Hendrie Valley Trails

Just the Facts about hiking Hendrie Valley Trails:

 main hike website
 google maps location
 hiking trails247 A.
 Distance to Toronto65 KM / 46 Mins

Hendrie Valley Trail - Sign Post Thanks to a tip from a family of Journeys Ontario fans, we were led to this amazing hiking trail in Burlington. The Royal Botanical Gardens supports a number of conservation projects in the greater Hamilton area (and beyond), including this 247 acre spread of forest and wetland. As a matter of fact, about 90% of the RBG’s property is nature sanctuary. There are four major sanctuaries under their care: Hendrie Valley, Cootes Paradise, Rock Chapel and Berry Tract).


We entered the Hendrie Valley Trails from the end of Valley Inn Road , where there is road-side parking, as well as a very small parking lot. The lot borders a wetland that is a seemingly a year-round home for geese and ducks that decided not to make the migration to a warmer climate.  The trailhead is marked by an information post and stone pillars.  You’ll also notice some bird feeders at the onset of the trail and no matter how many birds are partaking of some seed, it’s just a sampling of the number of birds you’ll see along the trails!

The shallow marsh waters of Hendrie Valley are home to a variety of birds and other forms of wildlife, including an array of native fish that spawn in a protected area of this wetland.  Like Kilally Meadows  in the London area, Hendrie Valley has been hailed as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI)

and the creek has been listed as an Environmentally Sensitive Area  (ESA).  When hiking along the creek or even along the raised boardwalks, please treat this area and its inhabitants with the respect they so deserve.  If you do so, you may be graced with a feathered visitor or two, close enough to feed them or to get a good look at the intense blend of colours they boast. 

Hendrie Valley Trail - Cardinal
Hendrie Valley Trail - Downey Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers are fairly common in Ontario. We have seen them on a few other hikes.
Finally! A place to consistently get shots of Cardinals. They are very shy birds!

On the afternoon of our hike, we were fortunate enough to stop and chat with a local family who had the foresight to bring some bird seed along with them.  They offered us a few handfuls and told us what they had seen along the trail that day: cardinals, chickadees, mourning doves, a jack rabbit and some downy woodpeckers.  Apparently, the chickadees were feeling the most social that day.  Even as we made our way along the initial stretch of paved pathway, we were greeted by swooping chickadees.  They were also most playful and curious when we decided to take a trek through the tall common reeds that tower over the edge of Grindstone Creek.  Much like walking through a cornstalk maze, you need to make your way through the roughly trampled out reeds, sometimes over or under fallen tree branches, as the chickadees glide in and out of the reedy brush.  This section of the trail (about 15 minutes from the trailhead) must be paradise for children—even we found it to provide a nostalgic rush!

Hendrie Valley Trail - Elevated Walkway
On the left is the walkway that leads to where all the birds congregate in the marshland (just hang a left at the end of the long initial stretch, then go half way down and look to your left!).

Keep an eye on the railing as you are walking down... this little guy is always sitting on the wooden fence, but he is so well camouflage you never see him until he flies off at the last second.

Hendrie Valley Trail - Grey Dove
 If you are quiet enough as you walk along the raised boardwalk that glides over the marsh, you’ll be able to get some great pictures of an array of birds.  We recommend stopping, waiting and watching for your best chance at an up-close encounter.  The cardinals like to stay at a distance but the woodpeckers seem to be slightly braver and landed within a meter of where we were crouched.  The doves would land on the railings of the walkway and munch on the seed piles left by other hikers and then fly back up into the trees once hikers were on the approach.  Rob went back a few days later, in the early morning hours, and found the birds to be even more lively and approachable.  They landed near and on his hand, to chow down on some seed.
Hendrie Valley Trail - Chickadee on my hand Hendrie Valley Trail - Chickadee in tree
These Chickadees are pretty brave. This picture is not cropped at all!

Truly, this valley is a bird watcher and nature-lovers paradise. With about 30 km of trails in the greater area that is home to an abundance of wildlife, you can easily spend a day exploring.  Pack a lunch, some binoculars, your camera and maybe even some bird seed!  This trail is rated as moderate in difficulty so make sure to slip on some supportive footwear and come prepared for the elements.  The trail can be quite slippery in the wet and winter months (just ask Nancy how she knows ;) )  The Hendrie Valley is a great hike for visitors of all ages.

Hendrie Valley Trail - River
Hendrie Valley Trail - Marsh
Hendrie Valley Trail - Lost in the reeds Hendrie Valley Trail - Grey Dove hiding Hendrie Valley Trail - Lot's of signposts along the way
Man, these grey Doves are good at hiding out. I always get the feeling if I were to run through the fields, thousands of different birds would fly out and away.
(PLEASE don't do this)
There are informative sign posts all along the hike. They great information relating to conservation, restoration of the area and the local wildlife.
For more information about Hendrie Valley Trail:

Royal Botanical Gardens- Garden Areas, Nature Sanctuaries and Trails (incl. map)


Map of Royal Botanical Garden grounds and trail heads

RBG’s Science and Conservation Links and Info

Bird Hotspots—Where to find and take great pictures of birds


Wildlife and Sensitive Environment Restoration in Hendrie Valley/Grindstone Creek


Hendrie Valley Trail - The river
Hendrie Valley Trail - Kids exploring the reeds Hendrie Valley Trail - Walking on the elevated walkway Hendrie Valley Trail - Boy checking out the water.
Here are the pictures that one of our readers sent in to entice us to try hiking Hendrie. The kids are reported to love the natural “reed paths” through the towering reeds and pretending to explore “where no man has gone before…!”
Why not try Geocaching in Hendrie Valley Trail?

Official Geocaching Website

What's geocaching?

Back to Hendrie Valley Trail.

This is fast becoming my favorite place to go for hiking or animal watching. There is a huge assortment of animals, and if you have some time and patience, they will let you get close enough for a great picture.

While up at Algonquin Park shooting moose, I had rented a 70-200 lens and a 2X teleconverter. (changes the lens into a 140-400 MM). I decided to stop in at Hendrie Valley trail and see if I could get some shots of some animals. I wasn't disappointed!

Hendrie Valley Cardinal
Cardinals are one of my favorite birds to shoot. Very bright and colorful, plus they are a little skittish, so getting great close up pictures is difficult. It took me a while to figure it out, but the Males are the bright colored ones, and they grey/red bird on the left is the female.
Hendrie Valley Chickadee
Another Chickadee. This is a great place to see them. Bring food!
Hendrie Valley Muskrat
I must say that if I was bite-sized and deliciously plump, I might not want to let creatures get this close to me...

This Muskrat is not that worried though, as he suns himself every day on the main path, and leaves it to the last minute to scamper away.

Hendrie Valley Chipmunk
Chipmunks are fairly common here in Ontario, except they don't like urban areas as much as their bigger cousin the Squirrel. Awenda Provincial park is another great place to see Chipmunks.
Hendrie Valley Canadian Goose Hendrie Valley Woodpecker
A male Downy Woodpecker. Ever hear a really loud fast knocking in the forest? It's probably one of these guys (or one of his 3 cousins in the area)
Here is a mother Canada Goose on her nest. It's hard to see at this resolution, but the little yellow patches under her are the baby chicks.
Hendrie Valley Turtles
Hendrie Valley Hare
Ok, not the most exotic of animals, but this goes to show the diversity of life around Hendrie valley.
Hendrie Valley Unknown black bird Hendrie Valley Unknown bird
Crazily enough, this is the Female Red-winged Blackbird.

(thanks to Audrey at the South Peel Naturalists' Club for identifying some of the birds we could not)

Hendrie Valley birds nest
A Blue Jay. These are such nice looking birds... too bad they are such big bullies. The will wait until a bird like a chickadee comes over to you to get some food, then chase them down and steal their food.
Keep your eyes open among the reeds..There are lot's of these ladies around. I cropped this one tighter than usual so you can actually see the bird in her nest.