Types of Habitats at Ruthven

Carolinian Canada

Ruthven Park is located in an area known as Carolinian Canada. This refers to the region of Ontario found south of an imaginary line running from Toronto to Grand Bend (on Lake Huron). This ecosystem stretches down to the Carolinas in the United States, with Carolinian Canada representing the northernmost edge of the vegetation zone. Though it comprises only 1% of the total land area of Canada, the Carolinian zone contains more species of plants and animals than any other ecosystem in the country. Nearly 400 species of birds and 2200 species of herbaceous plants have been identified here! This is also the most threatened ecosystem in the province; it holds a staggering 2/3 of all the rare, endangered, and threatened species in the country.

Our Natural Significance

The expansive 900 acres of forest found at Ruthven Park represents part of one of the largest remaining tracts of Carolinian forest in southern Ontario. Wetlands found within these forests have been designated locally and provincially significant and are the reason we refer to our woodlands as “Slough Forest”. Put simply, our forests can be very wet! In addition, one section of this forest has been declared an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest by the Ministry of Natural Resources, indicating that it is significant from ecological, research, and educational perspectives.

What Nature Lovers Will Find Here

  • Breathtaking Carolinian forests
  • A lovely stretch of the Grand River and view of Slink Island
  • Beautiful sloughs and vernal pools
  • Wooded streams (a fun place to look for wildlife footprints!)
  • Colourful meadows
  • A fantastic variety of fungus
  • Bird watching and banding (a unique way to learn about and interact with songbirds)
  • An opportunity to watch these habitats, and the species that make them up, change throughout the seasons

How to Best Explore the Site

Five hiking trails make discovering nature at Ruthven Park fun and easily accessible.

  • Enjoy a leisurely walk through our Butterfly Meadow where you can view native wildflowers and a variety of insects including, of course, butterflies.
  • Hike through a stretch of Carolinian forest and discover the diversity of trees, woodland plants, and dynamic wildlife.
  • Explore the habitats along the Grand River where you can spot waterfowl and hear the calls of a variety of songbirds and amphibians if the season is right!

A map of our trail system and more information about the natural and historic aspects of our site are available at the Gate House. There is no fee for walking the grounds; however, donations help support the on-going study, maintenance, and preservation of the site. Donation boxes are located on the grounds.


Spring Hours


Contact Us:
Phone: (905) 772-0560 

Mailing Address: 
243 Haldimand Hwy. #54,
Box 610
Cayuga, ON N0A 1E0