Finding Your Way to the Lake Champlain Region

Perhaps you have seen luring pictures of our spectacular sunrises over Lake Champlain. Maybe you have picked out several hikes from the 50+ Champlain Area Trails. You might be itching to catch that record bass from our top bass fishing lake or cycle some of the Adirondack Coast theme loops, explore our world-class historic sites, or try the new rock climbing adventure at Ausable Chasm. Now you want to plan your route and mode of travel. Let me assure you, it’s no problem at all getting here from there - wherever you are. 

Running north and south, the Lake Champlain Region of Essex County is on the very eastern edge of upstate New York and stretches over miles of the western shore of this vast lake. It includes nine towns, Chesterfield to Ticonderoga. To provide some perspective, this region is along the route between Manhattan and Montreal. Read on for some tips and ideas on how to get here, pertaining to your choice of vehicle.

Auto, Motorcycle or RV

Whatever your choice of motorized wheels you will enjoy the fantastic vistas and incredible scenic beauty of the Lake Champlain Region. Those with RVs also appreciate the abundance of campgrounds throughout our region and motorcyclists particularly enjoy the rolling hills, sweeping turns and biker-friendly communities along Routes 9N & 22 that parallel the lake. In order to get to these highways, often it’s the interstates that connect us most directly. From points south or north, Interstate 87 runs through the Hudson and Champlain Valley’s and connects to the Lake Champlain Region via exits 28 through 34.

Off exit 28, travel east over Route 74 to wind past Paradox and Eagle Lakes and descend into the Town of Ticonderoga, our  southern-most Lake Champlain Region community. Here you will find lodging, dining and shopping options as well as nearby campgrounds. Ticonderoga is also home to a selection of museums, galleries, the beautiful La Chute River Walk Trail, as well as the world famous Fort Ticonderoga. The Town of Crown Point is just north of Ticonderoga reached by Route 9N & 22. (From Ticonderoga to Westport these two routes share pavement, so you will see both route numbers.)

Amenities, dining and lodging will readily be found in the hamlet of Crown Point. Penfield Homestead Museum (via County Route 2) will explain the iron mining history and the town’s significant tie to the Civil War. Out on “the point” (Route 185 off 9N & 22 north of the hamlet) you will find the Crown Point State Historic Site, the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse, NY State DEC Crown Point Campground, and the Lake Champlain Bridge which connects to Vermont and Chimney Point State Historic Site. These 500+ acres comprise the Lake Champlain Bridge Heritage Area and await your exploration.  Take the quest to win a commerative coin.

Off exits 29 and 30 from I-87, again travel east. Note that the Ensign Pond Road (off exit 29), and the Tracy Road (off exit 30), will initially travel through some of our Adirondack forests, with no services for 10 to 15 miles. You are making your way to the Town of Moriah and Village of Port Henry while passing through the hamlets of Moriah Center, Witherbee and Mineville. These are historic mining communities and you can learn all about their history at the Iron Center Museum in the Village of Port Henry.

Off Exit 31 you will find Elizabethtown to the west, home of the Adirondack History Museum, Cobble Hill Golf course and Blueberry Trail System. Elizabethtown also hosts a fabulous Farmers' Market on Fridays throughout the summer months, directly behind the museum. Find lodging, dining and shopping options in our searchable database. If you travel east off Exit 31 you will enter the Town of Westport that sits directly on the shores of Lake Champlain. (Read more about the amenities of this resort town under Train below)

Also, directly off Exit 31 going east, you will find Young’s Road and then NYS Route 22. This route will take you through the hamlet of Whallonsburg resting on the banks of the Boquet River. The Whallonsburg Grange, hamlet center, hosts numerous events, programs, lectures, films and activities. A few miles beyond you will enter the Town of Essex. This picturesque community is an historic shipbuilding port, and the entire hamlet is on the National Historic Register. It may be the largest intact collection of pre-Civil War architecture in the country. Numerous lodging, dining and shopping options are clustered around its tree-lined Main Street overlooking Lake Champlain. 

Off exit 32 on I-87 you will find yourself in the Town of Lewis. This is home to the world famous Meadowmount School of Music for accomplished string players and pianists. You will not want to miss their weekly summer concerts.   

At Exit 33 you connect directly with Route 22. Heading south/east, visit the Town of Willsboro. Take time to visit the 1812 Homestead Museum and explore the Adsit Cabin on Willsboro Point. This historical treasure may be the oldest log cabin in its original location and was once home to a family of 16. 

Off Exit 34 enter the Village of Keeseville within the Town of Chesterfield.  This is the location of Adirondack Architectural Heritage and the Clayton Family Gallery which features regular captivating exhibits. Take Route 9 to find Ausable Chasm and its abundance of recreational opportunities a few miles up the road as well as the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. At the museum you will learn about the Champlain Line used by fugitives of slavery and the role Lake Champlain played making their way to freedom.  

From all of New England and points east, the Lake Champlain Region is easily accessed via the Lake Champlain Bridge (VT Route 17 to NY Route 185) or one of many ferries. The Ticonderoga Cable Ferry operates seasonally, early May through late October, from Shoreham, VT to Ticonderoga, NY. A ferry has been operating at this location for over 250 years! Lake Champlain Transportation Company operates two additional ferry options to cross the lake within the Lake Champlain Region. One crosses from Charlotte, VT to Essex, year-round, though weather dependent. Another ferry crosses from Burlington, VT to Port Kent, right at the Port Kent Amtrak Station and near Ausable Chasm. This ferry is considered a “seasonal summer crossing” however, and generally operates mid-June to the end of September

   

Train

Numerous rail lines flow into New York City and Montreal, Canada. From Penn Station, NY and Gare Centrale, Montreal, Amtrak’s Adirondack Line travels north/south to connect these two major hubs. Morning departures are available at both stations with arrivals in the evening at either final destination, but along this route are four options for hopping off to explore the Lake Champlain Region: Port Kent, Westport, Port Henry, and Ticonderoga.

The Port Kent Amtrak Station is only about 3 miles from Ausable Chasm, our country’s oldest natural tourist attraction. It is referred to by some as “the Grand Canyon of the Northeast.” A campground and motel are adjacent to this natural wonder. With prior arrangements, transport from the station to Ausable Chasm, the nearby motel and campground, may be arranged by contacting this attraction.  

Westport’s Amtrak Station is also home to the Depot Theatre hosting professional theatre performances in the late 19th century train station. Right next door is the Westport Hotel and Tavern, and across the street the Essex County Fairground which hosts the Essex County Fair every summer and, new this year, the Adirondack Harvest Festival in mid-September. This fun-filled 2 day festival celebrates local agriculture and an abundance of locally raised and produced products. Hike the fields with Champlain Area Trails, learn from the demonstrations, taste a wide variety of culinary creations, while sipping locally crafted brews and listening to first class music. A picturesque historic resort town directly on the Adirondack Coast, Westport also offers lodging, dining, golf, concerts, water recreation options and an historic walking tour all conveniently clustered within the community. 

Port Henry’s Amtrak Station is within walking distance of two campgrounds located on the shores of Lake Champlain: Bulwagga Bay and Champ Beach Park. Also close by are dining and shopping options. Port Henry is also the “Home of Champ,” Lake Champlain’s sea monster. Numerous sightings have taken place in these waters. Adjacent to the train station is the Iron Center History Museum. 

Ticonderoga is another stop along Amtrak’s Adirondack Line. The station is right on the doorstep of historic Fort Ticonderoga. This summer, the Rails to Wheels program returned, a partnership between Amtrak and the Fort. Amtrak passengers planning a visit to Fort Ticonderoga will be met at the station and provided transportation to Ticonderoga’s Best Western Inn and Suites

 

Boat

Lake Champlain extends north and south for about 125 miles. It is easily accessed via canals on either end. The Champlain Canal, south of the lake, connects to the Hudson River and beyond to the Atlantic.

At its northern end, the lake also connects to the Atlantic via the Chambly Canal, the Richelieu and St Lawrence Rivers. Both north and south canal systems have a series of locks that will support some of the largest recreational vessels. Once on Lake Champlain waters, you will find numerous marinas that offer services and overnight stays in transient slips. Or you may opt to moor in to one of many of our protected bays. Cruising and navigational guides are readily available online. If trailering your boat, find numerous boat launches along our shores for easy access to the water.     

 

Bicycle

Lake Champlain Bikeways is a 1300-mile series of themed loops and trails throughout the Champlain Valley in Vermont, New York and Quebec. Connect with Lake Champlain Bikeways and you are here! A principle feature of their trails is a 360+ mile loop that extends around Lake Champlain and is some of the best cycling in the country. That loop passes through our region. In addition, 14 of their themed cycling routes, known as the Adirondack Coast Bikeways are within this special Lake Champlain Region. These themed routes are treasured links to the LCB network.  

 

By Air

The Lake Champlain Region is in close proximity (within an hour) to two major airports: Plattsburgh International (PBG) and Burlington, VT International (BTV). From PBG head south on either Route 9 or I-87 to begin your Lake Champlain Region adventure. From BTV you can cross the lake by Lake Champlain Transportation Company ferry, at Burlington (seasonal) or Charlotte, VT or make use of the Lake Champlain Bridge (VT Route 17), or Ticonderoga Cable Ferry from  VT & NY Route 74. 

It doesn’t matter by what method you arrive, you will be welcome. Once here, keep our phone number handy (866-the-LAKE).  We can help you find your way around if needed.  

 


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