Missisquoi NWR--Maquam Bog / Old Railroad Passage

Tips for Birding

From the headquarters parking lot, turn left onto Tabor Road. Drive about 1 mile south and turn left into the parking lot across the road from Stephen Young Marsh. A kiosk here gives information about the trail. The trail cuts across the field to an abandoned railroad bed. In this area, grassland birds can be seen, such as Bobolinks, Savannah Sparrows, and Eastern Meadowlarks. Tree Swallows, Yellow Warblers, and Common Yellowthroats are abundant, and a Northern Harrier often cruises the fields. As you reach the far end of the field, listen for Alder and Willow Flycatchers. The trail takes a short jog to the left, then rejoins the railroad bed. From this point on, the trail passes through a wet, forested area, with Maquam Bog stretching off to the left. Many warblers and the occasional Ruffed Grouse can be seen here. The trail eventually ends up at Maquam Bay, and the railroad bed becomes less obvious. If you go past the refuge boundary signs, be very careful that you know how to find the railroad trail again, since it can be very hard to see. Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

About Missisquoi NWR IBA

See all hotspots at Missisquoi NWR IBA

About Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge

The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1943 to provide a habitat for migratory birds. It consists of 6,729 acres, mostly wetland habitats, which support a variety of migratory birds and other wildlife. The 900-acre Maquam bog is designated as a Research Natural Area and the refuge was designated as an Important Bird Area in partnership with the Audubon Society. The Refuge in partnership with other publicly owned (State of Vermont) lands has been designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. A mosaic of wetland habitats offers opportunities to see and manage more than 200 species of birds. Fall migration features 20,000-25,000 migrating ducks. Nesting bald eagles, osprey, and a great blue heron colony numbering more than 300 nests are present on the refuge. Please note that most public use is permitted only on designated trails or along the Missisquoi River. Please consult the refuge office for areas that are closed to public use to protect sensitive wildlife and habitat.

About Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge Important Bird Area

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge is located in Swanton where the Missisquoi River joins Lake Champlain, forming one of the largest wetland complexes in the state. Missisquoi combines extensive bottomland and grassland habitat with a number of wetland community types. Management practices such as the creation of impoundments have provided critical habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl as well as a number of state-listed species. Vermont Natural Community types include Lakeside Floodplain Forest, Red or Silver Maple-Green Ash Swamp, Cattail, Deep Broadleaf, and Deep Bulrush marshes, Buttonbush Swamp, and Pitch Pine Woodland Bog.

Missisquoi is owned and managed by the federal government. Annual monitoring of waterfowl, Osprey, Black Tern, marshbirds, and grassland birds is ongoing. Conservation issues include invasive species such as purple loosestrife, Eurasian milfoil, and zebra mussels as well as agricultural run-off from farms upstream. A new headquarters is planned for the coming years.

Notable Trails

AllTrails.com has a description of this trail on the AllTrails website.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

Content from Missisquoi NWR IBA Official Website, Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge (Audubon IBA) webpage, http//friendsofmissisquoi.org/visit/trails/Friends of Missisquoi NWR website, and Ken Copenhaven, Green Mountain Audubon