LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area

Every acre counts in this rivershore natural area in Shelburne--an oasis of nature in an otherwise fragmented landscape. An important habitat for migratory waterfowl, this marsh complex is located at the end of the LaPlatte, a river that extends 16 miles from Lake Iroquois to Lake Champlain and drains 34,137 acres of Champlain lowlands. Nearly 150 acres in size, the marshes and floodplain forests are regularly flooded when the lake level rises and are inhabited by plant species that can endure these wet conditions. This ecosystem is essential to helping filter and clean the water that empties into our Lake and is part of our nature based solutions for water quality progress in Lake Champlain.

This preserve is a haven to sixty species of birds; twenty mammals including otter, mink and muskrat, and fifty species of reptiles, amphibians and fish. One the trail you can expect to be surprised by ducks, kingfishers, or an occasional osprey and paddlers often spy blue herons.


225 acres

What The Nature Conservancy is Doing

The Conservancy has been working with volunteers to control invasive species such as common buckthorn, which threaten the preserve's floodplain forests.

The Vermont Chapter completed an extensive invasive plant control project at our LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area last fall.  Access to the trail in the northwest portions of the property, near the trail and town are now open for visitation.

The LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area can be enjoyed by foot or by canoe. Interpretive brochures are available for download. Trail Guide (379KB) Paddle Guide (383KB) Please read our Visitation Guidelines

What to See: Plants

The moist soil of the bottomland is ideal for floodplain forests, and for tree species like black willow, green ash, and silver maple that thrive on the annual spring floods along the river. On the moist clay soils, above the level of annual flooding, is an example of the rare valley clayplain forest.

Broad-fruited burreed and common cattail, common arrowhead and river bulrush thrive in the wetlands. Stands of white pine, eastern hemlock, and northern hardwoods are found in the uplands.

What to See: Animals

Beavers have changed this landscape over time. They've removed trees from the forest canopy so that sunlight now penetrates to the forest floor, promoting the growth of tree species like gray birch and white pine.

LaPlatte is a good place to see great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, and several kinds of ducks. Birds like the woodcock, gray catbird, song sparrow, ruffed grouse and common yellowthroat frequent the LaPlatte River Marsh.


1366 Bay Road, Shelburne, Vermont

This natural area can be enjoyed on foot or by canoe or kayak. From I-89, take exit 13 to I-189 to South Burlington and Route 7. Turn left (south) on Route 7 and travel approximately 3 miles. Turn right (west) on Bay Road at the stoplight. From there, it?s about one mile to the natural area and the mouth of the LaPlatte River. Go under a railroad overpass and across a small bridge. Directly to the right will be the Shelburne Bay fishing access. Please do not park here. Park in the Town of Shelburne lot just beyond the fishing access on the right (north) side of Bay Road. The natural area is directly across the road from the fishing access.


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