It’s difficult right now to think of snow. I've yet to even see a flurry in the Champlain Valley. Mid November and we are still hitting 50-some degree days filled with sunshine. I am still seeing people in shorts and t-shirts! Nevertheless, I know winter weather is not far off and it's that time of year when it is necessary to do the shuffle in the outdoor shed; garden tools and pots to the back of the storage rack; shovels and ice scrapers to the front. Inside the house, the closet has seen parkas and snow gear shift accordingly. My snowshoes now hang clearly visible.....waiting.
There is nothing like a trek outside after one of the first, fresh snowfalls. I like to pick a sunny day, early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, when the angle of the sun adds intriguing highlights and shadows to the mostly black and white landscape.
One of my favorite places to enjoy our regional scenic beauty, smell the crisp fresh air and listen to the scrunch of fresh snow under the snowshoes is the Crown Point State Historic Site. This site won't disappoint you for a scenic winter trek. It is located on Bridge Road in Crown Point, just before you reach the new Lake Champlain Bridge. If you go, park at the entrance gate, don your gear and take off. There are roughly 380 acres to explore there; some wooded, some open. Incredible vistas await you. Icy Lake Champlain and the lower Adirondack Mountains make a dramatic backdrop as you look across Bulwagga Bay toward Port Henry in the Town of Moriah. Almost exactly west you can see a naked, snow-covered peak in Moriah. Treeless and barren, it stands out among its neighbors who are peppered with wooded landscape. The naked peak is a huge tailings pile; a remnant of Moriah’s rich iron mining past all explained in detail at the Town of Moriah’s Iron Center Museum.
Crown Point State Historic Site is the home of TWO separate and distinct National Historic Landmarks, Fort St. Frederic and Fort Crown Point. It is unusual to have two National Landmarks within such close proximity of one another. The stone foundations and remaining standing ruins contribute an extra ingredient to the dramatic views. Bring a camera for some fantastic photo opportunities, particularly if the sun is low in the sky.
Two miles of marked trails guide you through the wooded portion of the site where x-country skis and snowshoes are welcome, but not snow machines. These trails are un-groomed, but well-marked. After a snowfall it’s easy to follow the tracks of others who have preceded you anyway. I’ve yet to ever be “the first” to break through the snow, though it’s often appeared that I’ve had the entire site to myself. The trails are gently gliding and easy. Perfect for a novice or for someone who likes to take their time, pausing to ponder or enjoy the scenery.