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Hike Info

N43.26600  W79.90830

12.5 km

4.5 h


335 m

This part of the Royal Botannical Gardens is relatively flat with some hilly sections; wetland areas; lookouts: more wild than the North Shore and less used. Trail surfaces are mostly packed earth, with some areas of mulch, crushed stone, asphalt and boardwalk.

Parking fee in lot; $1.00/h

Porta John in Aviary by parking lot.

At Princess and Kingfisher Points

31 Oct 2008, 30 May 2009

Not wheelchair accessible


Return somewhere after 012 but before the wetlands leading to 013.

Cootes Paradise Marsh; bridge over marsh.

No winter skiing allowed


The Site

Royal Botannical Gardens South Shore

The Royal Botanical Gardens hike is a must-see for those who enjoy gardens. Spread across 2700 acres, this is Canada’s largest botanical garden. The collection of plants includes five specialist gardens and four nature sanctuaries. Most notable of the nature sanctuary is Cootes Paradise, a wildlife sanctuary containing a 618 acres of coastal wetland located at the west end of Hamilton Harbor.

Beautiful view along the south shore

The trail surfaces at the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) on the south shore are mostly packed earth, with some sections hilly.  The RBG recommends staying off earthen trails during the spring thaw, and after heavy rains.  In addition, ice build-up in winter can make hills very slippery, so please use caution. The trails on the south shore are also less well marked than those on the north shore and are more "wild".

Cootes Paradise is a large and diverse sanctuary covering nearly 800 hectares or wetlands, fields and forests in the Royal Botannical Gardens. The area was named after Captain Thomas Coote, a British army officer, who discovered the area in the 1780s. Vegetation and trees found in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region, like hemlock, prefer the cool, damp coves of north facing slopes on these south shores. An area called the Pinery near waypoint (010)  exhibits some giant trees. Some of the large oaks found here are close to 400 years old, and a few majestic white pines, our provincial tree, also tower over the forest floor.

commentI actually prefer this hike to the more 'manicured' hike on the North Shore. Here the trails can be more rugged and narrow but not particularly difficult. For the most part, the trail keeps you right along the shoreline where you'll see lots of aquatic life as you pass by inlets and marsh areas. The first part of the hike on the Ginger Valley Trail takes you out to the beach at Princess Point and then you loop back through a park to join the South Shore Trail. Some of the trails in this section like the Sassafras Point trail have been closed for regeneration. Particularly interesting are the two bridges over marshes. One bridge is a very long wooden bridge seated on poles driven deep into the marsh and the other is a wooden floating drum bridge that gets you very close to the life in the marsh. As you approach President's Pond, the trail descends and passes through a wetland that is likely impassable in the wet season. The final leg of the walk is along an old canal which is an interesting but very deserted area.

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