Places We Protect

Vandell Preserve at Cumberland Marsh


Two women in a canoe paddle through open water at the edge of a marsh. Two kayakers float ahead of them. The bright blue sky is filled with high puffy white clouds.
Cumberland Marsh Canoeing along Cumberland Marsh © Daniel White / TNC

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



COVID-19 UPDATE (September 25, 2020)

TNC’s public preserves in Virginia remain open. We ask all visitors to observe our preserve access guidelines and to follow current health and safety precautions, including guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others (social distancing).

Thank you for helping us in our efforts to protect our visitors’ health and well-being.

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.



Please note: dogs are not allowed at this preserve.


Open from dawn to dusk.


Hiking, birding, ADA-accessible boardwalk


1,094 acres

Explore our work in this region

Get Involved: Preserve Volunteer Program

Virginia's Preserve Volunteer Community Program provides a vital service to help us maintain and monitor our public preserves across the state.

How can you get involved?

  • Community Members—become involved with a preserve without committing time to stewardship work. Receive periodic updates about the preserve and special events.
  • Preserve Stewards—visit Cumberland Marsh at least 4 times a year to assess trail and preserve conditions and perform basic trail maintenance by removing fallen branches and overgrown vegetation.
  • Preserve Leaders—demonstrated commitment to the preserve and willingness to take on additional responsibilities like managing communication & scheduling, leading workdays and guiding naturalist hikes.

Please contact Jen Dalke, volunteer coordinator, at 434-951-0572 or to receive further information.

Download the Cumberland Marsh Volunteer Program handbook to learn more.


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

Two women canoeing through open water in a marsh.
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.

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