On an unseasonably warm day, I once again searched for an easy trail to hit close to my house. Another Sunday Funday was upon me and I knew that I wanted to spend it outdoors, the only thing I didn’t want to do was drive over a half an hour for a hike. So, I hopped on my favourite hiking app; All Trails and searched near me for anything that looked appealing. I came across a bunch of parks owned by The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) but with the $14.00 per person entrance fee I decided that it wasn’t worth it given the short amount of time I had to spend outside (my partner works evenings at a restaurant and had to head to work for 5:30). I settled for a park on the outskirts of Burlington called Hidden Valley Park, it has a big field for events, a playground for kids, public washrooms and best of all a hike along the river. We parked the car and hit the trails, crossing Hidden Valley Road to start on what quickly became our new ‘go-to’ hiking destination for Burlington. Hurrah!
The trail is very easy to walk, I was wearing running shoes and found it perfectly fine and the majority of the hike is covered with trees which was great because it kept us cool on this very hot day. It also kept me from getting fried by the sun, something that is never fun. As you walk along the trail watch out for various woodland creatures; like the exotic chipmunk or elusive grey squirrel…which in all seriousness are pretty adorable. As you follow this trail you will come to another road with a small parking lot…this is the end of the Hidden Valley park but the start of Hendrie Valley; an area which is both owned by the RBG and free to enter. I didn’t know that you could enter the RBG for free and was pretty excited to start on this next phase of the hike as I have been meaning to visit the RBG for some time now.
The trail remains an easy walk and we saw many people out with their dogs and kids; a sure sign of a pretty leisurely hike. You will come across multiple ponds and swampy areas while on this trail, home to many different birds and wildlife. Luckily we didn’t see the all too common, mosquito but I bet in the summer months this is a spot you would want to avoid at all costs.
We saw people along our hike with seeds and nuts feeding the birds and chipmunks, who were very friendly and would often come right up to you to ask for food. My partner loved this! He thinks chipmunks are the best and I have to agree with him; they are pretty awesome little creatures.
We kept chatting about bringing seed the next time we came because having a chickadee eat out of my hand is now on my bucket list! As we continued walking we heard some splashing coming from a pond and saw a small animal slip under the water, at first I thought it was a beaver but the tail was too skinny and I now think it was a water shrew. It was so cute but I couldn’t catch up to it to take it’s picture, rats!
When we reached the boardwalk we were in awe at how much wildlife was out. There were geese, swans, raccoons, ducks, herons and chickadees; this may not seem like anything special but we have been hiking together for 6 years and rarely come across wildlife.
This is a pretty busy spot for obvious reasons but we still had plenty of opportunities to take pictures and walk along the boardwalk at our own pace. When we decided to head back to the car we were greeted by a mama goose and her babies…mama was very protective and this caused a little bit of a traffic jam as any Canadian knows…you don’t mess with the Canada goose. I actually had to climb up a small hill and over rocks because this goose was just not having it; she did not want you anywhere near her babies. People had to carry their dogs, a man had a stick to fend off the goose but left his family behind, a father had to carry his child while the mother attempted to carry the stroller…if you are Canadian, I know you have a wild story like this about running away from a Canada goose…if you don’t live in Canada, don’t judge us this is completely normal behaviour.
We ended our wonderful day out with a milkshake and a footlong from Easterbrook’s hot dog stand which is right in front of the RBG’s main entrance. It was a great way to cool off and fuel up after an unexpected adventure. That’s the thing about exploring new places, you do take a chance which can result in misery, pleasant surprise or in this case, down right awesomeness! After previous disappointing hikes within the Burlington area, this was the redemption I sought after and finding a new ‘go-to’ hiking spot is really the cherry on top of a wonderful day.