Upper La Platte River

Upper La Platte River in SummerThe Upper La Platte River Natural Area is a 65-acre extension of Shelburne’s community effort to protect incredible wildlife habitat along a major tributary of Lake Champlain’s Shelburne Bay—a drinking water source for over 60,000 residents. Conserved lands like the Upper La Platte River Natural Area absorb floodwaters and capture sediment and phosphorous that can negatively impact water quality. This stretch of the La Platte River also provides key habitat for one of only two known populations of the rare Stonecat (a small nocturnal fish).

The natural area is open year-round for free public access. The easy-to-moderate main trail is wide and regularly mowed.  After crossing the La Platte River, the trail follows a gentle woods road, and then loops around a scenic hayfield. An out-and-back trail splits off the upper field loop, crosses a small brook, and then climbs gently to a stunning hemlock forest. (Please note that the brook may be impassable during early spring and following heavy rain events).

The Lake Champlain Land Trust has recently completed a major river restoration effort at the Upper La Platte River Natural Area to protect the water quality of Lake Champlain.

Upper La Platte River Natural Area News and Press

“Land Trust Volunteers Expand Shelburne Trail” – Burlington Free Press (Sept 29, 2016)
“VT Restoration Project Protects Rare Fish”
– Burlington Free Press (July 11, 2016)
“Upper La Platte River Restoration Project” – Shelburne News (May 19, 2016)

Upper La Platte River Natural Area Photo Galleries

Spring 2016 Tree Planting – May 16, 2016
Fall 2015 Tree Planting – November 7, 2015

Directions

From the South: Take US Route 7 N. After passing the Shelburne Vineyard, take a right at the stoplight (Marsett Road). Follow this road straight through the four way stop. After crossing over the bridge over the La Platte River Waterfall, take your first right onto Thomas Road. Follow Thomas Road up the hill and after it bends east, turn into the first marked driveway entrance of the Vermont Zen Center (480 Thomas Road). Find the marked Land Trust parking spots within the Center’s parking area and follow trail signs to the west of the Zen Center buildings.

From the North: Take US Route 7 S.  From Shelburne Village, follow Route 7 south past Shelburne Museum to the light at the top of the hill, turn left (east) onto Marsett Road. Follow this road straight through the four way stop. After crossing over the bridge over the La Platte River Waterfall, take your first right onto Thomas Road.  Follow Thomas Road up the hill and after it bends east, turn into the first marked driveway entrance of the Vermont Zen Center (480 Thomas Road). Find marked Land Trust parking spots within the Center’s parking area and follow trail signs to the west of the Zen Center buildings.


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Guides

Click here for a printable guide to the Upper La Platte River Natural Area, including driving directions.

Click here for a trail map.

Click here for a kid-friendly educational hiking guide.

 

History

The Lake Champlain Land Trust worked with the private owner of the property, the Vermont Zen Center, to purchase the development rights (also known as a conservation easement) and permanent right to have free public access to the 65-acre property.  The Land Trust worked with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Town of Shelburne’s Selectboard and the Shelburne Natural Resources and Conservation Committee to purchase the easement (including a special river protection zone) at a significant discount.  The Land Trust agreed to help the owner keep the trails maintained.

Please respect the sensitive habitat and please note that dogs are not allowed on the property.

Partners

The Upper La Platte River Natural Area was conserved in partnership with the Town of Shelburne, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Zen Center, and the Lake Champlain Land Trust.