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Vermont

Otter Creek Swamps


Otter Creek, Vermont's longest river, runs for 32 miles through the largest and most biologically diverse swamp complex in New England. The swamps that surround the creek are teeming with wildlife. In the summer wide-ranging mammals like bear, moose and bobcat feed here. Otter Creek Swamps is also one of the most important stopover areas for migratory waterfowl in the region.

There are seven named swamps along Otter Creek?Brandon, Leicester Junction, Long, Salisbury, Whiting, Middlebury and Cornwall Swamps?which are all part of the larger wetland system. Cornwall Swamp was designated a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service in 1974. The Conservancy helped the State of Vermont acquire portions of the Cornwall Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

Size

1,049 acres

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Otter Creek Swamp complex is the most biologically diverse wetland complex in New England. The complex is an important lowland habitat bridge for wide-ranging animals like bobcats, bear and moose.

What the Conservancy is Doing

The Conservancy is working in concert with Middlebury College and the federal Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to restore portions of the swamp complex. The Conservancy also continues to purchase land and easements in the Otter Creek Swamps.

Otter Creek is an ideal waterway for flat water canoeing. See directions below for canoe access. Please read our Preserve Visitation Guidelines.

What to See: Plants

At least 10 different natural community types and variants are represented in the Otter Creek Swamps, including red maple-black ash swamp, northern white cedar swamp, floodplain forest and sedge meadow. One of only three examples of the red maple-white pine-huckleberry swamp documented in Vermont is located here, and the largest example of red maple-northern white cedar swamp in New England occurs in the swamp complex.

There are 32 rare and uncommon plant species in the swamp, including eastern Jacob's ladder, American hazelnut, nodding trillium and cuckoo flower.

What to See: Animals

Over 43 species of birds have been seen in the swamps, including as many as 15 different species of migrating waterfowl. In the spring flocks of mallards, pintails, American widgeons, green- and blue-winged teals, buffleheads and snow geese as well as unusual visitors like tundra swans congregate on the flooded fields bordering Otter Creek.

Blue-spotted salamanders live in the Salisbury Swamp, and significant populations of uncommon species like the four-toed salamander and the wood turtle have been identified within the wetland complex.

Directions

Traveling south on Route 30 from Middlebury pass through Cornwall and travel approximately 3 miles. Take a left on the Creek Road, also known as Swamp Road. The road goes through the Cornwall Swamp Wildlife Management Area. Drive about a mile until you reach the covered bridge, known as the Cedar Swamp Bridge. You can put your canoe into Otter Creek at the fishing access on the right.

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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