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Welcome to the 10,000 Year-old Red Hill Valley

Located in east Hamilton, the Red Hill Valley is one of the largest urban green spaces in Ontario. It is the only remaining natural corridor linking the Niagara Escarpment in the south to Lake Ontario shoreline in the north. Although most of the 640 hectares is forest, the valley also contains the Red Hill Creek, a provincially significant class one wetland, and a number of environmentally note-worthy areas. The escarpment portion of the valley is recognized as a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations.


After crossing the escarpment at Albion Falls, Red Hill Creek flows seven kilometres before emptying into Hamilton Harbour at Windermere Basin. The steep, red clay cliffs which provide its name, are visible south of King Street and north of Queenston Road. Red Hill’s tributaries also feature scenic waterfalls more than 20 metres high. Buttermilk Falls is visible beside Mountain Brow Boulevard, while Felker’s Falls can be accessed from Paramount Drive in upper Stoney Creek. These are both ribbon falls, emptying into spectacular bowl shaped cavities.


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The Flora and Fauna of the Red Hill Creek Valley

image1Host to more than 1,000 species of flora and fauna, the Red Hill Valley is rich in biological diversity. In 1995, the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club conducted a biological inventory of the valley which included surveys of breeding and migrating birds, aquatic life, reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and moths, mammals and plant species. Some highlights of this inventory are described below.


picture3-1024x907During the spring and fall migration periods, thousands of individual birds of over 175 species can be seen in the valley. In the forested areas of the valley, small birds, such as warblers, flycatchers and thrushes, can be seen. These birds use the woodlands to rest and feed on caterpillars and other insects. These birds depend on the valley during their migration because it provides them with a variety of habitats and a natural corridor through the heavily developed urban area at the head of Lake Ontario.

The valley provides breeding habitat for many species, including the provincially rare Cooper’s Hawk and the nationally rare Carolina Wren.


picture4-1024x926The Red Hill Creek has been identified as a significant spawning stream for migratory fish, such as White Sucker, Rainbow Trout and Chinook Salmon. A total of 23 species inhabit the creek during some part of their life cycle. Other significant species include Northern Pike, Brown Trout and the regionally rare Three-spined Stickleback.

Reptiles and Amphibians

DSC_4934 As you journey through the valley keep your eyes and ears open for its 11 species of reptiles and amphibians. Among the species you can find are Red-backed Salamander, American Toad, Northern Leopard Frog, Midland Painted Turtle and the Eastern Garter Snake.


DeerInValleyPic_2006or2007There are at least 24 mammalian species living in the valley. While hiking through the valley you may see Mink, Coyote, Red Fox, Beaver, White-tailed Deer, four different species of bats and Southern Flying Squirrels.


EcologicalRestorationFromTC-Nov-2013There are close to 600 plant species in the valley, representing 22 per cent of Ontario’s native flora. About 20 of these species are considered rare in Hamilton including Chinquapin Oak, Soapberry and Hispid Goldenrod. The forest area along the Niagara Escarpment section of the valley contains a mix of oak, maple, hemlock, birch, ash and pine.