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
Hickory valley trail


Spring is in the air, and the calls of chickadees, cardinals, and blackbirds can be heard throughout the nature sanctuaries. The cold winter has left the trails icy, and Cootes Paradise Marsh with thick ice to start the month. With the cold forcast the Fishway at Cootes Paradise is anticipated to open later in March. As of the beginning of March flocks of many species of birds, particularly raptors, have begun to arrive on their long journey north. The first spring wildflowers Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) is beginning to bloom with this large plant found in spring feed lowlands. The best trails to spot it include the Grindstone Marsh in Hendrie Valley, Captain Cootes Trail on the north side of Cootes Paradise, and Westdale Ravine Trail on the south side.

Operation of the Cootes Paradise Fishway will commence once the ice melts. The first species through include rainbow trout, northern pike, and yellow perch. The operation schedule starts with only a few baskets, before ramping up for full spring fish migrations in April. The Bald Eagles have been sighted regularly and have setup a nest in the Hopkins Wood Special Protection Area along Spencer Creek. The nest is in the same location as 2018 a top a tall pine tree, and can be viewed from the Marshwalk Boardwalk (Cootes Paradise north side). Aside from the eagles, the surrounding forest is among the best locations to encounter a year round resident, the Pileated Woodpecker.

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

Rock Chapel parking lot is closed and will reopen for the season on March 22 weather permitting. All trails are ice covered to start the month.

Please note the upper level parking lot at Laking Garden is closed for the season.

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.

Ice Skating

Ice Thickness: 3.5" (UNSAFE) - measured March 15

Princess Point provides access to a skating area across Coootes Paradise. Ice is measured each Friday (before end of day), and updated at the on-site signage, here, and on our Facebook page. Please note: weather changes quickly, and so upon arrival the ice may not be in the same condition as listed. Please use caution, take time to read the signage, and follow the listed guidelines.

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