Kains Woods Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) is located in west London near Kains Road, north of the Oxford Street West Extension bridge, along the Thames River.
The publicly-owned lands cover 28 ha. This stretch of the Thames is called River Bend or The Thumb, referring to the river’s large northward meander.
The map on the reverse side shows the access points and trail system. Two access points are located at the western end of the site off of Westdel Bourne and Tigerlily Road. Two more access points are located at the eastern end off of Shore Road and Oxford Street.
The 5.8 km-long managed hiking trail is marked with yellow and white blazes on trees. The white blazes mark the Thames Valley Trail. The trails are somewhat challenging with several steep and muddy sections.
Please stay on the marked trails and keep pets on leash, to protect the sensitive environment.
The area was logged and farmed by European settlers, but the steeper valley slopes were probably never tilled. The remains of an old farmstead can still be seen in the ESA. The area remained rural until the 1990s when a large housing development and a golf course were constructed.
Shaping the Landscape
As the last glacier was retreating 10,000 to 14,000 years ago, large beds of sand and gravel were left behind in the meltwater. The ancient Thames Spillway cut its way through these deposits. Over time, the river meandered and shifted from side to side across its broad floodplain. This process created the terraces, meander scars, oxbow ponds, and linear marshy depressions that are visible today.
Several small streams have carved deep ravines through the site as they flow towards the Thames.
Along the river in the floodplain woods the trees include Black Willow, Cottonwood, Blue Ash and Sycamore. In the spring, Mayapples grow in abundance under the trees.
Hemlock groves are found on cool, north-facing slopes, where water seeps out. These coniferous trees are relatively uncommon in the London area. On flatter seepage slopes there are cedar swamps with Yellow Birch and Balsam Fir over an understory of ferns, Skunk Cabbage and Jewelweed.
Kains Woods is an important corridor for birds and animals that follow the river. Bald Eagles have nested in the area, and are often seen hunting for fish in the river. Killdeer and Great Blue Heron are frequently seen along the riverbanks.
Wild Turkey like the edge habitat between the woods and nearby fields. A wide variety of songbirds use the wooded habitat, including American Goldfinch, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Great Crested Flycatcher, Scarlet Tanager and Downy Woodpecker.
The animal life is typical of the London area with White-tailed Deer, Eastern Cottontail and Grey Squirrel. Gnawed trees are a sign of Beaver.
There are also some interesting and unusual amphibians in this ESA, including Grey Tree Frog and Yellow-spotted Salamander.