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Try Out These Trails This Season

October 29, 2021

By: Emily Sharma, Communications Intern, Royal Botanical Gardens

The scent of fallen leaves and vibrant palette of colours make RBG’s 27km of nature trails irresistible every autumn — and there’s still time for a fall season hike!

As more people look for ways to stretch their legs and connect with nature, it can lead to congestion on some of our more popular trails. So why not take a different beaten path? Here’s a list of amazing but less frequented hikes to add to your itinerary.

Find your route and learn more about Cootes Paradise, Hendrie Valley, and Escarpment Trails nature sanctuaries.

Try out these trails on your next trek!

Spencer Creek

spencer-creek-fall-colours

Off Cootes Drive, this trail leads past the Spencer Creek Floodplain Special Protected Area in the southwestern corner of the marsh. There’s still a chance to spot the last of the migrating salmon as the spawning fish of Lake Ontario find their ways into the creeks. 

Rock Chapel & Borer’s Falls 

As the furthest trailhead from RBG’s main garden areas, the escarpment trails aren’t always top of mind — but they should be. Rock Chapel Trail/Escarpment Loop is an easy, flat path with lookout opportunities along the escarpment’s edge.  

Family At Lookout In Fall Credit Markzelinski.com

Or travel further for spectacular views of Borer’s Falls and Borer’s Creek Gorge, and try your birding skills along a forested hike down Ray Lowes Trail.

(Please note that Ray Lowes trail ends at York Road and does not connect to Cootes Paradise trails. This would be an out and back hike).

Homestead Trail & Hopkins Loop

The Arboretum is home to many great trailheads that are part of the network of Cootes Paradise trails. With a huge variety of trees, shoreline paths and easy access, it’s already a popular hiking spot.

But you can avoid some of the crowds and still enjoy the best of the Arboretum with a trip down Homestead Trail. Starting at the Pinetum, this two-kilometre trail takes through beautiful forests that are home to exciting wildlife. Add Hopkins Loop for a longer hike along a flowing creek. 

Hikers Walking Down Pinetum Trail In Fall

Creekside Walk 

Cherry Hill Gate is another well-used trailhead, but while most visitors gravitate to Grindstone Marsh Trail, there’s typically fewer people traveling down to Creekside Walk. Still accessible from Cherry Hill, you can venture down the Bridle Trail Loop (currently one-way to allow for social distancing). Add on Creekside Walk for a lovely trek featuring Grindstone Creek and South Pasture Swamp Special Protection area, home to minks, muskrats, beavers and wood ducks! 

creekside view

The areas near Grindstone Marsh are great for bird watching. In accordance with city bylaws and to keep these habitats healthy, please refrain from feeding birds or other wildlife on RBG trails. 

Heading out? Check out these trail tips before you go: 

RBG Trail Tips Series

Make your own adventures out on these trails, but to save the vegetation, stay on the beaten path! Find updates on closures, trail etiquette and seasonal plants and wildlife with the most recent On the Trails blog. 

Plan Your Hike

GeoTrail

Find interactive maps from GeoTrail! View trail lengths, terrain, lookout points, elevation, photos and more!

Geotrail Map With Logo

Featured Hiking Loops

Not sure where to start? Join Jackson for a virtual guided hike with our “Take a Hike” videos!

More from the RBG Blog

Check out RBG’s blog for announcements, articles, and more from Canada’s largest botanical garden.

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