Canoeing along Cumberland Marsh
Cumberland Marsh Canoeing along Cumberland Marsh © Daniel White / TNC

Places We Protect

Vandell Preserve at Cumberland Marsh


Enjoy views of the marsh from an ADA-accessible boardwalk.

Vandell Preserve at Cumberland Marsh is a mixture of freshwater tidal marsh and wooded upland. This preserve provides pristine habitat for wetlands species, migrating waterfowl, and has the world's largest population of the rare sensitive joint-vetch (Aeschynomene virginica), a member of the pea family listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Situated along the Atlantic Flyway, the marsh provides important migratory and wintering habitat for waterfowl.

Why TNC Selected This Site

Purchased in 1993, the preserve protects a pristine marsh habitat on the Pamunkey River, a major tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

TNC also monitors the endangered sensitive joint-vetch plant. Part of the preserve consists of working farm, and we are working with a local farmer to use best-management practices on the land. The adjacent Cumberland Hospital for Children also uses the preserve for outdoor rehabilitation programs.

Additional Resources


An ADA-accessible boardwalk and observation deck on the marsh offers views of a wide variety of bird species, including bald eagles.  There are no restrooms.

What to See: Plants

World's largest population of the rare plant sensitive joint vetch occurs here.

What to See: Birds

Bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, and egrets; wintering populations of black ducks, wood ducks, mallards, and Canada geese.

What to Do:

The nearest launch site for paddle craft is four miles downstream at the Whites Landing (Lestor Manor) ramp, just downstream of the Pamunkey reservation.

Paddlers are encouraged to plan trips in accordance with tidal currents, which can be very strong along this section of the river.

A set of river maps can be ordered from the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers Association at

Vandell Preserve At Cumberland Marsh
This preserve along Virginia's Pamunkey River provides pristine habitat for wetlands species, migrating waterfowl, and the world's largest population of the rare plant sensitive joint-vetch.

Vandell Preserve at Cumberland Marsh An observation deck on the marsh offers views of a wide variety of bird species, including bald eagles.

Additional Resources

We invite you to experience and enjoy preserves where we provide public access, but remember that every visitor has an impact. Please follow our visitation guidelines to protect yourself and nature.

  • Preserves are open to the public during daylight hours. 
  • Passive recreation such as walking, bird watching, and photography is welcomed. 


  • Bringing dogs onto the preserve
  • Picking flowers, mushrooms, etc.
  • Removing rocks or other parts of the landscape
  • Smoking
  • Camping
  • Fires or cookouts
  • Driving motorized vehicles, including ATV’s, except on designated access roads
  • Biking, except at Brownsville Preserve
  • Fishing, trapping or hunting, except as otherwise posted
  • Horseback riding
  • Feeding wildlife
  • Releasing animals or introducing plants
  • Disposing of trash or other waste, including biodegradable materials


  • Stay on trails.
  • Avoid walking in wet, boggy areas.
  • Inspect pant legs and shoes to remove seeds before entering and when leaving the preserve. Failure to do so could introduce invasive weeds to new locations.
  • If you flush a ground nesting bird, stop and avoid walking near the nest area.
  • Observe all posted signs.
  • Please do not remove stakes, signs, flagging, tape or similar objects. These may be markers for a research project.
  • Please do not trespass on private property adjacent to preserves.

For your own comfort and enjoyment, come prepared. Wear comfortable shoes for hiking, pack rain gear, and wear long pants with socks over them to protect yourself from ticks and poison ivy. Always remember to bring water, as dehydration is a serious year-round threat.

If you observe any illegal activity on a preserve such as ATV use, do not confront the offenders yourself. However, do feel free to call local law enforcement.

Enjoy your visit and please report any problems you encounter at a preserve to the Virginia Chapter at 434-295-6106.