Places We Protect

Raven Ridge Natural Area

Vermont

An arched rock formation leading into a cave under the arch.
Raven Ridge Anticline A unique geological formation, the anticline or "the oven," at Raven Ridge Natural Area in Monkton, Vermont. © Gus Goodwin/TNC

Raven Ridge has lovely views, cliffs, caves and exceptional wildlife habitat.

Overview

Description

Notice

Raven Ridge is experiencing extremely high use, imperiling public access, wildlife populations and sensitive habitat. Please consider using Trail Finder to identify other nearby trails and visit them instead. If the parking lot is full when you arrive, choose another trail to visit. Be considerate of your fellow trail enthusiasts - pass at safe distances, wear masks, and move on from viewpoints if others are waiting. As always, leave your dogs at home to protect the unique wildlife here.

Overview

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 TNC’s 363-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 TNC’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.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Highlights

Bobcats, ravens and Indiana bats. 

Size

363 acres

Explore our work in Vermont

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. 

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 Raven Ridge Natural Area map for trail route, safety zones for a neighboring land owner and deed restrictions on portions of the property in Charlotte and Hinesburg. 

Hikers can now track their position while exploring our trails using the Avenza Maps app on their smartphones. To learn how to record your route, drop placemarks, and more using the Avenza Maps app, please see our Avenza How-to Guide and download the natural area's trail map

Access

There is a marked, 2.2-mile TNC trail that loops through the interior of the preserve.  Parts of the trail are very steep and can be icy in winter.

There is also a new universally accessible boardwalk. The boardwalk spans 935 feet over a sensitive wetland and leads to a 748-foot accessible trail, creating a third of a mile of access for visitors of all physical abilities.

TRAIL CLOSURE

The ridge trail at Raven Ridge is closed from March 1 to June 15 to protect nesting ravens and bobcats.  Please respect them while they are vulnerable by staying off the ridge.