On The Trails

RBG's nature sanctuaries feature more than 27 km of nature trails. There are four main trailheads, as well as two canoe launch sites.

Trail MapsTrail User GuideHamilton Burlington Trails Council
bloodroot in bloom


Record high lake levels have flooded sections of many of the trails limiting access to Hendrie Valley and Cootes Paradise, with this expected to persist through much of July. New life fills the sanctuaries in July, young birds are emerging from the nests, new fish abound in the wetlands, and butterflies and dragonflies are on the wing. Wildflowers in July are highlighted by the always impressive lilies, including wetland, woodland and meadow species flowering. Enjoy the views from the observation platforms on the Cootes Paradise north shore trails and Hendrie Valley. Two of the platforms provide views of our most spectacular areas, the South Pasture Swamp, Spencer Creek, and Hopkins Wood Special Protection Areas. The new Anishinaabe Waadiziwin Trail below the Nature Centre is a great addition to a relaxing trip to learn about indigenous use of plants.

Locally the commonly occurring lilies include the White (Nymphaea odorata) and Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar variegatum) of the wetlands, and the Turk’s-cap (Lilium superbum) and Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganese) of the uplands. The best trails to encounter lilies include Creekside walk in Hendrie Valley, and Sassafras Point and Captain Cootes trail at Cootes Paradise. The water lilies once virtually lost due to habitat destruction now carpet portions of the wetlands again, reflecting the success of the restoration. A sea of white water lilies can be found in Hendrie Valley, while at the Lamoreux Boardwalk on Captain Cootes Trail three species, two white water lily species and the yellow lily are present. For a view from the water, canoe launches can be found at Princess Point and Valley Inn with water levels very high this year. Lilies are also featured in the cultivated gardens, particularly Hendrie Park, where both aquatic and garden cultivars can be found.

You can experience the season with one of the many public programs for kids or adults, with field ID pocket guides available at the RBG Shop, and great lunch time dining available at the RBG Centre and Rock Garden restaurants. If you’re looking for a guided walk try the WIN walk in Hendrie Valley, or one of our weekly free Sunday Back to Nature walks also listed in our public programs calendar. Walks rotate between four locations, one for each week of the month and are provided by RBG volunteers.

Trail User Notes

Most trails and parking lots are open, however several trails at Cootes Paradise and Hendrie Valley have sections under water and are expected to remain this way through much of July. The Grindstone Marsh trail is flooded west of the boardwalk and has been closed as a through trail. The Desjardin Trail to the Fishway is also closed.

Please be aware ticks, including some ticks with Lyme Disease are found throughout the Hamilton Burlington Region. Protect yourself by staying on marked trails. RBG does not accept ticks for testing. For inquiries regarding ticks, please contact the City of Hamilton Public Health.


There are five main trailhead locations, Princess Point, Westdale, the Arboretum, Cherry Hill Gate, and Rock Chapel, as well as two canoe launch sites (Princess Point & Valley Inn). These lead to 27km of trails within the sanctuaries as well as links to multiple other regional trails. A fee of $1-$2/hour is required at all trailheads. The Arboretum entrance is regular RBG admission rate during May and June. An RBG membership provides free parking at the trailheads. The Rock Chapel parking lot will be closed for the season starting December 31 or earlier if icy conditions occur.

Click here to download a pdf version of the on-site map signage.

Trail User Resource Guide (pdf)

For more information on the trail guidelines, including walking dogs, canoeing, feeding birds and etcetera, please download the Trail User Resource Guide.

Trail Resource Guide (pdf)

Trail Maps

Find your route and learn more about the three major nature sanctuary areas using the brochures linked below.

map view of cootes paradise

Cootes Paradise Trails

Established in 1927 for its significance as a migratory bird stopover, Cootes Paradise is RBG’s largest and most diverse sanctuary at over 600 hectares.

Download Map (pdf)

map view of the escarpment properties

Escarpment Property Trails

Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve is represented here by several properties forming a 110-hectare, three-kilometre ribbon along the Escarpment edge.

Download Map (pdf)

map view of hendrie valley

Hendrie Valley Trails

This 100-hectare sanctuary is centred on the Grindstone Creek Valley. The area features forested slopes with towering trees, a 60-hectare river-mouth marsh complex and four creeks.

Download Map (pdf)

interpretive signage along trail

Anishinaabe waadiziwin

Native plants provided indigenous peoples with almost all of life’s essentials. Starting in the Arboretum near the Nature Interpretive Centre, this new trail explores plants used by the Anishinaabe peoples, and their connections to culture, language, ecology and history.

Learn More

blue bird on a branch


Royal Botanical Gardens provides easy access to some of the most diverse birding in Ontario. Read more

geotrail map overview


Explore our Trails with an interactive map from Geotrail! Read more

planting in the wetlands

Conservation Projects

Projects occur in forest, wetland and prairie habitats and range from Species at Risk inventories to invasive alien species management. Read more