By Sheri Duff
It’s been said that few Shelburne residents have heard of Shelburne Falls and even fewer have visited it; but all that is about to change. Last Sunday, the Shelburne Falls Overlook and the continuous walking trail that links the north end of the LaPlatte Nature Park to the south end officially opened in front of nearly 50 onlookers.
Now Shelburne Falls, an area along the LaPlatte River under the Falls Road Bridge and a large portion of the river below, is accessible to residents looking for a place to take a walk, experience nature, or enjoy a scenic vista.
At the dedication Selectboard member Al Gobeille noted that the improvements to the LaPlatte Nature Park were a collaborative effort. He specifically credited the town, the Holland family who constructed the Shelburne Falls Overlook with funds donated in memory of their young son, Hudson Holland IV, and the landowners Tim Loucks and Lisa Myers who granted an easement for public access to the site.
The paths and natural resources committees were also thanked for developing the walking trail made possible by two grants, one from VTRANS and the other from Recreational Trails Program, along with Chris Major who completed a bridge along the route as his Eagle Scout Project, and local landscape architect Kate Lalley who designed the Overlook.
At one time Shelburne Falls played an important role in the history of the town. Ira Allen established a saw mill, a grist mill, and constructed the first log bridge over the LaPlatte River back in the 1780s. Although very little of its historic significance survives today, this beautiful area of Shelburne will not stay unnoticed thanks to the efforts of the town, its paths and natural resources committees, and residents.
All are encouraged to enjoy walking, running, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing on the 145-acre town-owned open space as well as the peaceful views of the Overlook. Nothing could be more easily accessible and conveniently located. Parking for the LaPlatte Nature Park is available at the community gardens located off of LaPlatte Circle, at the north end of the Park in the Shelburne Shopping Park, while limited parking is available along Falls Road and near the south entrance off Falls Road near the Overlook.