Located on Plains Road, this thriving wetlands ecosystem is part of the Royal Botanical Gardens parklands. Free to explore, the beautiful sunny wooded trails circulate through marshes, on boardwalks and across small bridges. You’ll see chipmunks, geese, turtles and tons of birds – bring feed if you want to see them
eat out of your hand. You’ll also see just as many photographers and birders! It takes about 60-90 minutes to leisurely explore. Paid parking is in the lot across from the RBG entrance. Once there, look for the large trailhead sign that says “Cherry Hill Gate”
An area that a friend has taken me two times now and, each time we discover different trails to explore. is the Hendrie Valley Trails of the Royal Botanical Gardens.The Trails are rich with diversity,plenty of wildlife, and a pleasant quiet ,short hike.
A smaller scale version of Cootes Paradise, this area which includes the 100 hectare Grindstone Creek Valley stretches to the end of Carroll’s Bay and contains the finest collection of floodplain wetlands on western Lake Ontario. Transferred to the Royal Botanical Gardens in 1941 for ecological protection, the area features slopes forested with old growth trees, a 60 hectare river mouth marsh complex, and 4 creeks. Major access points are along Plains Road and include the RBG Centre and Cherry Hill Gate.
This is a great spot to see birds and assorted waterfowl. You will see in this area that a large project is underway to create new banks along the water’s edge and also provide a system that works as a natural barrier against invasive carp. This has been facilitated through the re-use of over 100,000 discarded Christmas trees.And other equally intelligent moves to keep the marsh as pristine as possible.
Following the trail through the Grindstone Creek Delta, you soon arrive at a spectacular boardwalk that borders Grindstone Creek providing an excellent vantage point to watch nesting birds and observe beavers and other wildlife. This is a great place to bird watch and if you bring some seed along you can have some fun feeding the friendly birds by hand.
On recent walks I have seen incredible amounts of red-wing blackbirds, blue jays and cardinals
Enjoy all Hamilton Has to offer.Was nice to see this fawn, he is actually in another shot, see if you can spot the fawn and Doe
This summer I highly suggest checking out Hamilton Harbourfront Park, which is easily accessible by car, e-bike, bus, or ride the Tramway from Haida all the way into Cootes Paradise. The Harbourfront Park not only offers activities, festivals and events all year long, but a place where you can take in the many sights and sounds of the RBG Centre. You can also bike, walk, hike, kayak and canoe into Cootes Paradise. Should you drive there, you’ll find ample parking close to all the amenities.
Last year, after biking the trail for three months, I still have much to discover, observe, and accomplish as a photographer. It seems the potential is endless, as each day the water beckons me to awaken before first light and immerse myself in Mother Nature’s cycle, which is always brimming with life.
I welcome you to join me on a journey to the hidden gems in Hamilton, Tobermory, Niagara Falls, and many other places. My hope is that together we enjoy an enlightening experience, to gaze through the camera lens together, to see the power, beauty, and wisdom of Mother Nature’s gift
Dundurn Castle is an historic chateau built to house Sir Allan MacNab, later prime minister of the united Province of Canada between 1845 and 1856. He hired architect Robert Wetherall and construction of this stately home was completed in 1835. It became the property of the City of Hamilton, and in the late 1960s, it was restored as a Centennial project. It is now designated as a National Historic Site.
It operates as a civic museum, and its grounds house other attractions. Dundurn Park, and associated green spaces, is a favourite for wedding portraits. The Hamilton Military Museum is housed in an outbuilding which was relocated when York Street was widened as York Boulevard in the 1970s. Another outbuilding, the Cockpit Theatre, occasionally housed outdoor events and dramas.
Operating Hours Victoria to Labour Day: Daily 10 am – 4 pm Labour Day to Victoria Day: Open Tuesday to Sunday 12 pm – 4 pm. The admission prices is $10 and also includes a ticket to the Hamilton Military Museum.
Royal Botanical Gardens
Canada’s largest Botanical Gardens, the RBG has five garden areas, including RBG centre, Hendrie Park, Laking Garden & the Arboretum. It also has four nature sanctuaries, including Cootes Paradise, Hendrie Valley, Rock Chapel & Berry Tract.
RBG Centre – The main centre for the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Centre has indoor greenhouses with a vast collection of cactus & exotic plants and flowers. Most popular is the Mediterranean Garden(cool, so bring a coat), where the bloom season is actually winter!
Hendrie Park – Gardens featured include Rose Garden (beautiful @ June & Early Summer), Medicinal Garden (herbs & spices), Small-flowered Clematis, Garden Lily (Lilium) Collection, Scented Garden (plants with attitude!), Thyme Garden, The World of Botany, Vines, Climbers and Espaliers, Kids’ Gardening Zone (plant veggies), The Morrison Woodland Garden, Border Buffet (whole collection of plant borders to give you creative edge), Queen Beatrix Narcissus Collection (daffodil gift that Queen Beatrix gave during her visit in 1988) & a Collection of Canadian-Originated Trees. This garden really tickles of five of your senses & offers a comforting atmosphere.
Rock Garden – My personal favourite, the Rock Garden is actually a hillside valley garden that uses altitude & the rocks to compliment the flora. It is also a favourite among photographers & newlyweds, who love the fact that the garden is surrounded by hills, gardens and a pond & stream. This garden also has many trees & shaded areas, so it is a comforting walk in the baking sun.
It is open all year (except Christmas & New Years), from 9 a.m. to dusk. Remember the gardens are seasonal, so come when your favourite flowers are in bloom.
The Hamilton Waterfront Trail (7.5km):Known for its heavy industrial waterfront, Hamilton will surprise new visitors. The past decade has dramatically changed the waterfront bringing with it new recreational uses and restored natural and cultural features.
The Trail in Hamilton splits into two sections: The Hamilton Waterfront Trail and the Hamilton Recreation Beach Trail.
Both Trails are largely off-road, 6m wide, paved asphalt.
Paved , both trails provide a smooth, wide surface for all users, especially bladers.
The trail follows Hamilton Harbour from Princess Point (Cootes Paradise) through Bayfront Park, Pier 4 Park, the Discovery Centre and on to HMCS Haida. You’ll also find Williams Coffee Pub, a Waterfront Ice Cream stand and the Hamilton Harbour Queen Cruises nearby
At Cootes Paradise there is an impressive staircase with a cycling trough leading to Dundurn Park and some amazing lookouts. From here you can connect to Burlington via York Street- extreme caution is needed when crossing the ramp from the 403.Note: The staircase at Coote’s Paradise is quite large and steep and can be a challenge for cyclists with full paniers.
Main Access Points (with parking) Hamilton Waterfront Trail:
Dundurn Park-York Blvd.
Bayfront Park-Harbourfront Dr and Bay St.
Pier 4 Park – Leander Dr. and Guise St.
Pier 8 – Canada Marine Discover Centre
HMCS Haida at Catherine St.
Enjoy The Images and the bountiful wildlife this weekend
Restoration of Natural Connections – Cootes Paradise Wetland
Thursday April 5 2011
“Cootes Paradise is on its way to looking like the pristine wetland it once was,” Tys Theysmeyer, RBG head of conservation.
As a Nature Sanctuary Cootes Paradise Wetland is (1) Canada’s most biologically diverse landscape, (2) an area of natural and scientific interest, (3) home to thousands of plant and animal species, both common and endangered,and, (4) a provincially (Ontario) significant Class 1 Wetland. Within Cootes Paradise is a remnant portion of a Carolinian Forest and a remnant of Ontario’s rare tallgrass prairie and oak savannah habitat. Regarding the Oak Savannah, go down to Dundurn Castle, cross York Blvd and dip down to the train tracks below the Hamilton Cemetery on York Blvd. There is a tiny strip growing along the west side of the tracks. It’s easy to spot the single, tidy row of tall White Oaks shading a healthy understory of Witch Hazel. This shred of Oak Savannahs is some of the last old growth oak savannahs remaining on this side of Hwy. #403, but not long ago, these Oak savannahs covered most of the sandy soils in the west. Today, less than 1% of Hamilton’s tallgrass prairie and oak savannahs remain. In order for their continuance, they require frequent disturbances to be maintained, such as, fire burns. Here, ecologists use low-density fire burns in order for re-growth. Within this Cootes Paradise wetland the Willow trees that filter toxins are dying with no young ones to replace them, which means they are suffering. The importance of Cootes Paradise as a biodiversity hotspot, to the local economy cannot be understated. The richness of the natural areas at the “Head of the Lake (Ontario),” especially around Cootes Paradise Wetland has been recognized for many years. In this light, there appears to be a call for a paradigm shift toward nature in Hamilton.
Cootes Paradise landscape is diverse ! There are 14 creeks that run into Cootes Paradise, and each year they bring 14,000 tons of sediment downstream from the rapidly urbanizing areas of Dundas, West Hamilton, West Mountain, Ancaster and Waterdown. Conservation and Management of approximately 1,550 hectares (3,800 acres) of natural lands are already protected by various agencies – RBG, Conservation Halton, Hamilton Conservation Authority, City of Burlington, City of Hamilton, Region of Halton, Hamilton Naturalists Club and Bruce Trail Conservancy. To create an awareness of the issues surrounding the protection of these natural lands that are internationally recognized as being biologically diverse and provide habitat for a number of threatened and endangered plant and animal species.
Peter Kent, Conservative Federal Environment Minister, informed us that $3 million is being given by Ottawa to support 43 projects to clean up the Great Lakes areas of concern in Canada. Within this $3 million distribution of funds is, as follows: (1) RBG receives $100,000 for Grindstone Creek and Cootes Paradise rehabilitation, (2) Hamilton Conservatory Authority receives $60,000 for Hamilton Harbour Watershed stewardship, (3) The Bay Restoration Council receives $18,000 for the harbour watershed health restoration, as well as $500 for the council itself, (4) Ontario Streams receives $15,000 for Hamilton Harbour barrier mitigation projects to find ways for fish to pass unnatural barriers like dams, culverts and hardened channels, and, (5) Conservation Halton receives $145,000 for its remedial action plan governance. HCA began its study of the region’s groundwater as part of a new province-wide monitoring program which involves $6 million between Ministry of the Environment and 36 Conservation authorities. Currently only inadequate core data exists in groundwater conditions. Within HCA there are 9 groundwater wells that collected data in both groundwater quantity and quality. Quarterly groundwater level data are downloaded from the wells and processed for analysis. Annually, the ground water levels are sampled for ground water quality testing.
Let’s look at a site bordering on a key waterway – Cootes Paradise. Maintaining and increasing woodland cover is an important factor to protecting biodiversity. It is valuable to have a diversity of habitats to maintain landscape richness. Here protecting and enhancing existing wildlife pathways, such as along stream corridors, and protecting natural features in close proximity to each other are also important to natural system functions. It is interesting that McMaster University’s parking lot area Zone M was until the 1960s part of RBG Coldspring Valley Trail System. Here in parking lot Zone M the potential is for an improved natural habitat adjacent to Colspring/Ancaster Creek.
The Master Plan refers to a desired 30 meter naturalized buffer between parking lots and Ancaster Creek. Moreover, Jacob Binkley (1806-67), great-grandson of Marx (Binkley) built a handsome stone house which still stands at the head of the ravine, 54 Sanders Blvd., that was completed in 1847 and named Lakelet Vale. It had a little springfed lake at the rear of this house, Binkley’s Pond, as it was known and used for skating, fishing and good times. Today ? Binkley’s Pond has given way to Zone 6 parking lot at McMaster University on the west side of Cootes Drive. Currently, HCA is tasked with protecting Hamilton’s natural assets, but this significant yet degraded area of Cootes Paradise is of course worthy of all or our attention. That means, opportunities for the restoration of natural connections need to be identified and implemented for Cootes Paradise Wetland.
Source: Loreen Jerome, the Way We Were, “The House That Jacob Built”; Restore Cootes; Mayday Magazine; The Cootes to Escarpment Park System Project; the Spec.com March 2,011; HCA – Healthy Streams, Healthy Communities