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Vermont

Raven Ridge Natural Area


Location: Charlotte, Hinesburg, Monkton

Size: 365 acres, Conservancy owned and managed

Access: There is a marked, 1 mile Conservancy trail that loops through the interior of the preserve.  Parts of the trail are very steep and can be icy in winter.
 
TRAIL CLOSURE: The ridge trail at Raven Ridge is closed from March 1- June 15 to protect nesting ravens and bobcats.  Please respect them while they are vulnerable by staying off the ridge.
 
Raven Ridge stretches from Lewis Creek south along a scenic ridge on the boundary of Charlotte and Hinesburg to a large wetland complex in Monkton.
 
The land is a rocky forest refuge for a variety of wildlife including the federally endangered Indiana bat.  Bobcats thrive on the ridge's rock outcroppings and ravens nest on the cliff ledges. Lewis Creek and surrounding wetlands provide a diverse ecosystem for aquatic species.
 

 

Photos
Raven Ridge Natural Area: A Rocky Forest Refuge for Bobcats, Ravens and Indiana Bats

About Raven Ridge

The continental ice sheet started melting roughly 15,000 years ago, deepening glacial Lake Vermont, and turning 800-foot-high Raven Ridge into a refugia – an island of dry land encircled by icy waters. Today, Raven Ridge is still a refuge, a craggy green oasis perched above a sea of civilization in the Champlain Valley. It remains a place where bobcats, ravens, and federally endangered Indiana bats find seclusion.

In 1991, Vermont ecologists recognized Raven Ridge as biologically state-significant, something neighbors had long known. Raven Davis and Ed Everts, for example, homesteaded here back in 1973. “We were attracted by the ledges. Beautiful, overgrown with mosses, rising like the walls of an old city,” Davis recalls. Raven Ridge boasts an astounding 142 bird species.  

In 2009, The Nature Conservancy joined with the Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to purchase a 201 acre parcel and accept a 165 acre donation from Raven Davis and Ed Everts, creating the Conservancy’s 365-acre natural area.

If Raven Ridge could be described in one word it would be diversity. The calcareous cliffs, outcrops and caves, vernal pools, shrub swamps, cattail marshes, seeps, plus streams like Lewis Creek, all offer extraordinary habitat.  Raven Ridge’s diversity is enhanced further by its landscape connectivity. More than 1,600 acres in conserved land are nearby, properties that together serve as a forested wildlife corridor stretching between the Conservancy’s Shelburne Pond Natural Area to the north and Bristol Cliffs Wilderness to the south, and to a lesser degree, between the Green Mountains and Champlain Basin.

Raven Ridge is particularly valuable to the federally endangered Indiana bat. Before the arrival of white-nose syndrome this mid-sized mouse-eared bat, in precipitous decline elsewhere, had found a safe haven in Vermont. Roughly 6000 Indiana bats at one time used Vermont’s Champlain Valley for summer maternity colony habitat. They roost under the loose bark of dead, large-diameter trees in upland forests and near streams. They forage in the canopy of floodplain, riparian, and upland forests--all habitats found at Raven Ridge. The preserve also supports river otters and ravens. The natural area includes two streams plus beaver ponds and wetlands. In addition to conserving brook trout habitat, Lewis Creek offers excellent habitat for mussels like the Eastern pearlshell.

At Raven Ridge, you will find an enjoyable hike up to the ridge with magnificent views of the Champlain Valley, and a chance to explore "The Oven", home to a family of porcupines. Further along the ridge more views open up, and in the summer months you can explore the slot caves at the end of the ridge trail. This is a multi-use natural area open to hikers all year, and for hunting and trapping of some species in season. Please refer to the preserve map for trail route, safety zones for a neighboring land owner and deed restrictions on portions of the property in Charlotte and Hinesburg. 
 

 

Directions

Directions to Raven Ridge Natural Area: 1278 Rotax Road, Monkton

Locate in Google Maps:

From Hinesburg:
1. Go south on 116 through the light at the intersection of Charlotte Road.
2. Take the first right after the light onto Silver Street and follow for about 5 miles.
3. Turn right onto Davis Road just before the center of Monkton. There will be signs for the Norris Berry Farm.
4. Take the first left onto Rotax Road and follow for about 1.2 miles until you see the sign for the ToDo Institute, which is just after the straight section of road with wetlands on both sides. The road curves sharply to the left at the driveway to the ToDo Institute.
5. Park on Rotax Road at the bottom of the driveway for the ToDo Institute.

From Route 7:
1. In Ferrisburg, turn onto Old Hollow road heading east and follow for about 1.7 miles. Old Hollow Road becomes Hollow Road.
2. Just after the intersection with Higbee Road, bear left onto Rotax Road and follow for 2.5 miles.
3. Park at the driveway to the ToDo Institute, which will be on the left after a sharp left turn and just before a sharp right turn and a large wetland.
4. Park on Rotax Road at the bottom of the driveway for the ToDo Institute.

From Bristol:
1. Go north on the Monkton-Bristol Road and follow for about 7 miles to the center of Monkton.
2. Just past the stop sign, bear left onto Davis Road. There are signs for Norris Berry Farm.
3. Take the first left onto Rotax Road and follow for about 1.2 miles until you see the sign for the ToDo Institute, which is just after the straight section of road with wetlands on both sides. The road curves sharply to the left at the driveway to the ToDo Institute.
4. Park on Rotax Road at the bottom of the driveway for the ToDo Institute.

 

 

Discussion

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