Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor Recreation

Birding By BoatOur birding trip had already been successful when the group I was leading turned its attention to the La Chute River for a canoe trip into Ti Marsh. In fact, we had done so well that we were running late and we had difficulty pulling ourselves away from the birds we were enjoying — although that is the usual state of affairs for such adventures. We even debated skipping the paddle altogether to keep birding from the road instead....
It was a fight for the ages, a battle of wits that ended with the triumph of man over beast. I caught a fish. But it wasn’t just any fish — this was a beautiful, 30-inch long lake trout that weighed about 12 pounds. A catch of that caliber might not have excited a hardier fisherman; a hardy fisherman I am not. Most of my adventures involve walking and climbing, and since this was my first time fishing on Lake Champlain I was ecstatic about...
You don't have to believe those splashy ad campaigns that tell you how good the fishing is on Lake Champlain.Ignore that Madison Avenue stuff, and listen to the best bass anglers in the world, guys who fish all over the country. Let them help make your decision on where to go fishing. Take FLW tour pro Scott Martin, for instance. He's pitched, flipped, and drop-shotted all over the country, including Lake Champlain. Here's what he says:"You...
Submitted by Guest Blogger: Kathleen McLoud The day was basically clear, with beautiful blue skies and puffy white clouds here and there. The temperatures where in the high 70s — the perfect day for a few short to moderate and basically easy hikes in our immediate area of Lake Champlain Region. My friend and co-hiker decided we should take a light lunch and plenty of water, which made our backpacks light and easy to carry. Next we put...
Annually on a weekend in early August, this year on the 12th and 13th, the Crown Point State Historic Site hosts the French and Indian War Encampment. It’s an exciting weekend for the site, as hundreds of participants and close to a thousand spectators gather to commemorate the significant history of this location. Authentically clad French, British, and Native American regiments and groups camp amongst the ruins of two 18th ...
Let's assume you enjoy spending time in the woods, after all, that’s one of the draws of the mountains, right? One thing we need to be mindful of is the immense size of the Adirondacks and the remoteness of the situations in which we will place ourselves. No trip onto the trails should be seen as a quick jaunt in the woods, and a basic level of preparedness should be the foundation of every outing. If you are headed out to explore nature’s...
Champ Day is drawing near, and once again the residents of Port Henry are gearing up to celebrate their hometown lake monster, Champ. This annual bash at the “Home of Champ” keeps getting bigger, and this year is shaping up to be some fun doin’s.Champ Day is Sunday, July 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a special kickoff to Champ Day - “The Return of Champ Day Movie Night!” - which will take place on Wednesday, July 12, at 7 p.m. Come by the...
One of my favorite cookbooks from among my wife’s collection is a small slim book from 1885 entitled “Canoe and Camp Cookery.” This book is intriguingly subtitled: “A Practical Cook Book for Canoeists, Corinthian Sailors and Outers”.When I first read this wording, I assumed an “outer” was anyone experiencing an “outing,” but I was confused and fascinated by the term “Corinthian Sailor.” The mystery lingered until I remembered, “Duh- Google…”...
Kathleen McLoud is our guest blogger. Her husband introduced her to bass fishing and she has participated in tournaments with him for the last 17 years. She holds the Rutland County Bassmaster's record for large mouth bass. A day in the life...It’s 4:30 a.m., a cool 43-degree spring morning, and we’re off to a major bass tournament on Lake Champlain. I have dressed in several layers of clothing, knowing that by this afternoon it will get up...
It's National Trail Day Folks!Head to the Lake Champlain Region for a ChallengeBy Guest Blogger: Michael MartineauHiking in the Adirondacks is not merely an activity for many, it's a lifestyle. Those who embrace this lifestyle are out on the trails as much as possible. They will repeat trails and mountains so many times they know if a certain tree has lost a branch, or a rock was washed away, or if a trail blaze has fallen.They become an...
First Paddle of the Season!While we are firmly paddling through warm weather now, it wasn't so long ago that we loaded our canoe for the first ride of the year. Here's a little recap of another great day on the Adirondack Coast.Wren and I met up with a friend, and after enjoying some birding on dry land, we set out on Scomotion (Dead) Creek just south of Cumberland Head. The put-in is accessed from a small parking lot for a doctor’s office and...
 Recently my wife and I took a little spring outing. The morning sky was clear and the sun shown warm as we started out. Opening the car door, our two enthusiastic companions and intrepid explorers, Cappy and Waggs, excitedly jumped in and we embarked. We have been exploring our local CATS (Champlain Area Trails), starting with a lovely hike up Coot Hill/Big Hollow last fall. We decided Crowfoot Pond would be a more challenging follow-up -...
A Beautiful DayWith the shifting weather patterns of spring comes a changing diversity of birds — seemingly different every day. In an effort to get lucky and find species of note moving into or through the region, I have been outside as often as I can – mostly walking Wren near our home. But when the forecast looked as splendid as it did for a late-April day, it was time for a trip further afield.Species of NoteWhile many locations came to mind...
Port Henry, NY, March 31, 2017- Local Officials unveil a major project aimed at confirming the existence of “Champ,” the Lake Champlain Monster, once and for all.“This will be a shot in the arm for tourism,” stated Super Town Advisor, Bean Favascossa. “This is a huge undertaking that has been in the works for many years. Lake Champlain already has great waterfront activities like boating and fishing, but once Champ is declared real then...
Birding my way around the lakeWhile our recent late-season storms have made the North Country look like winter again – as it should look at this time of year, in this climate – spring continues to press upon the landscape and the birds know it. With that in mind, Wren and I took the chance to bird our way back from Vermont the other day. Birding has been great in the Lake Champlain Region all winter, but I was curious to see what else was...
Spring WeatherWith spring pushing winter out faster than many of us would like, it is a good time to explore Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Wren and I had a chance to do so the other day – she loves to play in the sand at the point during the winter.We started by checking out a few close ducks – Hooded Mergansers and Mallards – along the edge of the marsh along the campground road on our way to the point, watching a male Northern...
Starting with Boreal Birds and then off to the ValleyMy family recently headed to the Adirondacks to join me for a long weekend of birding. After our success in finding Great Gray Owls in Massena, my brother, his son, and I decided we'd head to the Lake Champlain Region.Before we left the Saranac Lake region, we thought we'd start with a search for boreal birds. We began at Bloomingdale Bog north of Saranac Lake where the Gray Jays entertained...
February 2017 featured a nice dump of snow in the Lake Champlain Region that created great cross-country ski conditions in the backwoods area. Our guest blogger, Chris Maron, Director of Champlain Area Trails, shares his solitary ski experience.  We just had a great February snowfall. Finally, in the Lake Champlain Region, there is deep snow. The family is away so I’m on my own. Now, where to explore? I pull out the CATS Map--that’s...
Norm’s Bait and TackleThroughout your life you’ve probably received all kinds of unwanted advice on those embarrassing topics of a romantic nature. Invariably these are inflicted on you by people whose life choices have been even worse than your own. Who am I to break with such long-standing traditions? I just have one gem to add the pile of axioms, idioms, malaprops, and metaphors given to you by anxious parents, tacky uncles, drunken...
The "Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks" is our oldest and largest natural attraction. It opened to the public in 1870, and now summer activities include rafting, hiking, and various canyon adventures. But that's not all.In the winter, Ausable Chasm becomes another kind of adventure. The sandstone gorge grows multiple stories of frozen waterfalls. The Ausable River at the bottom forms skeins of frozen water and dark not-yet-frozen water. Bare trees...
Westport BirdsI was out with some folks on the weekend, and after some initial debate we stuck to our plan to bird the Lake Champlain Region - even with the excitement surrounding the Ross’s Gull in Tupper Lake. As usual, we began our day at Westport, watching a flyby Pileated Woodpecker, looking through the small groups of Bufflehead and Mallards, and spotting two Double-crested Cormorants – quite uncommon in the valley during the winter. But...
January 2017: Once the ice on Lake Champlain formed this winter and I started to see groups of ice fishing shelters scattered across Bulwagga Bay in Port Henry, I remembered that I had planned to get my own ice fishing gear and join them immediately after my surprisingly fun guided experience described below. I guess I've been too busy since then to follow through - it's been a couple of winters already. But after re-reading this story, my...
A Return TripAfter our success along the Adirondack Coast a couple weeks ago, Wren and I used the recent long weekend to poke around the lake yet again. It was a fantastically sunny – albeit windy - day. As we often do, we started in Westport, which has been quiet the past few weeks. It stayed true to form with a collection of Mallards and American Black Ducks and a flock of Bufflehead at the boat launch. After checking the overlook at...
New adventures on a beautiful dayWith the beginning of the new year, and a beautiful day in the forecast, Wren and I headed to the Adirondack Coast the other day to see what we could find – it had been too long since we had explored there. We started at Westport like we usually do, and Wren led herself around with her nose while I scanned for ducks on North West Bay. The water was pretty quiet, but I did note a few Common Mergansers, Bufflehead...
2016 TOP 3 BLOGS IN REVIEW We scoured our blogs for the most popular, most informative, and just downright funniest pieces from the past year. In case you missed them when they were originally published, here are our top three picks from the Lake Champlain's Adirondack Coast. Enjoy!3) The Adirondack lean-toIf you've ever hiked in the Adirondack wilderness and experienced a pop-up storm along the way, I suspect you were happy to stumble...
It’s that time of year againHard as it is to believe, we have once again cycled through the birding year to the time when Christmas Bird Counts fill our calendars. A few local CBCs were held on Sunday, 12/18/16, including Elizabethtown, Plattsburgh, and also the Vermont Islands count which overlaps across the lake to include the area surrounding Point Au Roche. I was planning to help with this latter count, but I was unable to do it on the count...
Blogger's note: As we once again find ourselves smack in the middle of the holiday chaos, we can't help but remember this adventure at Ausable Chasm. It took place at this time last year, and we think it may be time to head back!It’s a chasm. It’s right there in the name, "Ausable Chasm." I’ve seen chasms before in other parts of the country, and I’ve toured chasms. They’re usually pretty cool but more or less the same. I’ve driven by this...
Early winter birding along the northern Adirondack CoastSo I’ve heard that the ducks, geese, loons, and other aquatic species in the northern Lake Champlain Region complained because their hangouts weren’t profiled in my recent blog post. The responsible party – whom I’m now realizing is me – has been chastised and I’m writing this to make up for my oversight. The truth is, there are many good places in the early winter to look not only for...
Is your holiday shopping incomplete? Still in search of that perfect gift for that special someone? Let me give you some ideas for gifts that will stay with the recipient forever, do not require assembly or the additional purchase of batteries, and won't have you standing in a long checkout line. As an added bonus, they're easy to wrap! We are talking experiences, of course, and the Lake Champlain Region has a wide variety to offer —...
In the photos it looks like they’re gliding across the water’s surface, the clouds reflected in an enormous, aqueous mirror. The nordic skates on their feet look a little too big, a little too cumbersome, striking an odd juxtaposition with the skater’s elegant movements.“On a good day, visually, your senses are on overload,” said nordic skater Kevin Boyle. “There’s this amazing color spectrum. With the jet black ice, if you catch it when it’s...
Where the odd birds areFinding a diversity of species of waterfowl – or other aquatic species – in the Southern Lake Champlain Regions requires a number of things.1) You must spend time. 2) You must be patient and work through the shifting flocks which have been arriving from the north.3) You must be lucky.Here's where we can help you! Read on to find out how to use your time, diligence, and luck more effectively by going to the right spots....
With the wind in your hair and the Coast in your sights, biking is a favorite way to explore the Lake Champlain Region. //  Keep voting for your ADK favorites:Lake, pond, or river?Family-friendly, close-to-town trek with best views?Where will you reel in the big one?Favorite 6er?Which way up?Winter activities, anyone?What’s your next bite?
A great place to exploreI was heading to Plattsburgh the other day so I figured I would give myself a few hours to explore in and around AuSable Marsh and AuSable Point. It is a great place along the northern shores of the Adirondack Coast to poke around for birds, and the weather, although very windy, was pleasant. Wren and I started with a quick scan of the marsh from the short boardwalk. From here I spotted a Northern Harrier - before we...
After Labor Day, our summer may begin to wane along the Adirondack Coast, but this means we can start getting excited about autumn. Soon the colors will be arriving and dressing our landscape in vivid oranges, yellows, and reds. We have some exciting fall events planned that will be showcased against that colorful scenic backdrop. Here are a few highlights!Adirondack Harvest FestivalYou definitely will want to plan on attending the Adirondack...
Guest Blogger: Audrey Schwartzberg Communications Associate, Adirondack North Country AssociationHitting the roadI’m on my trusty touring bike, hauling my 5-year-old in the Burly buggy. She’d rather be pedaling her big-girl bike, but she’ll have to be content admiring the view from the trailer. My husband and son are up ahead pedaling [almost] in tandem with their bicycle/tag-along combo. Grandpop is joining us for the day, and Grandma...
From May to October, visiting Fort Ticonderoga is always great, but I particularly like visiting in the autumn months. The changing seasons play a role in creating new experiences for visitors every month. Though we are not quite into the fall season yet, it is not far away. Let me share some reasons why I find fall a great time to visit the Fort.To provide you with the most updated information, I made a recent late-summer visit....
Top Three Quick HikesGuest blogger: Gail TestaBlueberry Hill, Elizabethtown, NYMy children grew up in the Adirondack Mountains and my youngest son was only about four or five years old when he began walking with us as we hiked. As he grew he joined us on more difficult hikes, and as he got even older, he enjoyed climbing the larger mountains on his own. He no longer lives in the area, but he still loves the mountains and returns often to hike....
A warm startIt was warm and approaching mid-day when Wren and I took to the La Chute River in Ticonderoga to paddle into Ti Marsh the other day. That’s out of the ordinary for me, as I don’t usually paddle during the heat of the day, but that’s how plans sometimes go. I let Wren take a quick dip so she was cool and wet before we pushed off.Birding along the La ChuteThe river offered shade on our way out which was a nice plus, and I hugged any...
All in the FamilyI’ve ridden a ton of miles along the Adirondack Coast on my bicycle over the years, many on my own. But I do find that if I ride with someone else, I’m more motivated to achieve a certain distance goal. Plus, it’s just plain more fun. My sister Jennifer lives nearby, and just acquired her first real road bike this summer, so now I’ve got a built-in cycling friend with whom I can share my favorite loops. As a bonus, she’s...
Heads up, campers — particularly those with RVs looking for full hook-ups! Within the Town of Moriah there is now an additional campground option for you to choose from. This one privately owned and boasts a distinctive personality of its own. After 10 years in development Petro’s Millbrook RV Park recently held their ribbon cutting and opening. This is a family-run operation, with three Bills at the helm. I refer to them as Bill 1, 2, and 3....
An essential part of summer is hitting the beach, and the hot, sunny days we’ve had lately are driving us to water. Current Lake Champlain water temperatures are a refreshing 70 degrees. Within the region we have numerous choices for beachgoers. Let me introduce you to a few of our favorites located on two different lakes. TiconderogaSituated in the southern portion of the Town of Ticonderoga are the northernmost waters of Lake George. The...
It’s easy to find the Ausable Brewing Co. when they are open. It stands in stark contrast to the adjacent farmland because there’s usually a crowd of people and a lot of cars filling the converted field that now serves as a parking lot.  Ausable Brewing Co. is located at 765 Mace Chasm Rd. in Keeseville, N.Y. They offer tastings, pints, and growlers to go (when supplies allow) from Thursday to Saturday from spring well into the winter....
She said/she saidKIM: A few years ago, we adopted a doberman/shepherd mix from a rescue in Vermont. The rescue agency told us we could take her home and if it didn’t work out, we could return her to be adopted by someone else. We got home, named her Katie, and 4 years later we can’t imagine having taken them up on their offer. She’s smart, loving, loyal, and action-packed. She's also an integral part of our family and our home on New York’s...
Welcome to a huge water playground. Lake Champlain has over 435 square miles of surface — that’s 271,000 acres of fun for any water sports enthusiast. There is a multitude of options to get you on the water along the Adirondack Coast, so pick your pleasure.On the WaterEveryone should have an “on the water” experience on Lake Champlain. The sights, smells, and sensations are unsurpassed. The surrounding landscape takes on an entirely different...
Birding between the raindropsAfter our successful trip to the Four Brothers Islands the other day I looked at the sky, and at the time, and debated the possibilities. Rain was already starting and it was forecast to get worse throughout the day, but it was currently light and intermittent and I had already made the trip to the valley, so I decided to bird until the rain sent me home. Since I was in Willsboro I headed north and drove along...
Let’s talk about a different type of training. Were you aware that National Geographic Traveler magazine rated Amtrak’s Adirondack Line as “one of the 10 most beautiful train trips in the world?" Yes, I am talking about a rail line, and the shout-out was in the year 2000, but no worries, the scenery hasn’t changed. I have ridden the Adirondack Line from one end to the other, and I can also tell you the most beautiful section of that trip is...
An overcast day on the waterThe day was gray and overcast as five birding friends and I set off from Willsboro Marina to visit the Four Brothers Islands in Lake Champlain. I had never been to the islands before, but my friend had set up a trip with a local charter company (which usually takes fishermen) and it seemed like a good opportunity to check the islands out. After all, the Four Brothers are well known in the local birding world for the...
Submitted by guest blogger: Gail TestaWhy would anyone want to live anyplace else?I have been riding a bicycle for as long as I can remember.According to my family, I first got on a bike at age 4 and just took off. I grew up on a small farm in eastern Pennsylvania, so my bike was my transportation to visit my friends when I was young, and to go to the movies or my babysitting jobs as I got older. When I was a young stay-at-home mom in a one-car...
Living on the Adirondack Coast of the Lake Champlain Region has its distinct benefits especially if you are a fan of two-wheeled activities. The same roads that welcome tons of human-powered bikes each year are also great for touring on motorbikes. I am a fan of two-wheeled activities, and since I DO live here, I’ll impart directions for visitors to take a tour along the Adirondack Coast from Ticonderoga to Keeseville.  (This is one of...
After a couple long weeks on the job it’s inevitable that we would get out and enjoy nature, the best prescription for whatever ails you. On this ridiculously hot and humid day in May, Corenne and I set out for a most attractive hike, one which we'd wandered on before. Rattlesnake Mountain was where we ended up with the post-hike plan of visiting a new brewery in Keeseville called Ausable Brewing Co. Needless to say, we were excited about both....
A season filled with events is upon us, and so are activities and gatherings of all varieties including weddings, graduation celebrations, and class and family reunions.Anyone organizing a celebration should do some advanced planning. A primary concern is location. The setting needs to be easily accessible for all attendees and should provide shelter if the weather decides not to cooperate. The location also needs to have adequate space for the...
Another spring trip to the Adirondack Coast - or - How I blew off work to go birdingWork to do, but birds to seeA friend of mine called me a few days ago to ask about the ducks that have been congregating near Crown Point for weeks. He was interested in heading there to see them and to take some photos, and as we chatted he began to tempt me for another run to the Adirondack Coast to find them. I really needed to get writing work done –...
I recently reached out to Nancy Ockrin, the race organizer of the NY/VT 5K Champlain Bridge Run coming up in May. I had a few questions to ask, but started with simply finding out if she’d be participating. “Not in this race” she informed me, “I will be too busy organizing and attending to the details.” However she offered to enlighten us a bit about the race and how she got started running. The following is Nancy's guest commentary for this...
A follow-up tripAfter my successful trip last weekend to the Champlain Valley, I wanted to follow-up to see what I could find as the migration continued to push birds along the lake. While the ducks at Crown Point were once again my main target, I wanted to see what else was around. I started my day at the Westport boat launch like usual. I scanned the water and found a string of Common Loons on their way to northern lakes, as well as a few...
An afternoon in the ValleyI took an afternoon this weekend and headed to the Lake Champlain Region with Wren to see what we could find. There have been a variety of birds arriving in the region and a friend of mine found a Tufted Duck (likely the same bird that was at the Champlain Bridge this winter) in Port Henry a few days earlier. I started in Westport like I often do and found the lake scattered with a few ducks, migrating Common Loons...
Crown Point, N.Y. — A public meeting will be held to present new traffic restrictions for the Lake Champlain Bridge at 10 a.m. on April 15 at the Lake Champlain Visitors Center in Crown Point, N.Y. The new regulations are being put into place in order to facilitate a safer flow of traffic in response to an overwhelming increase in cycling activity in the Lake Champlain region.The bridge, which spans between Crown Point, New York and...
Spring Break on the Adirondack CoastWhen most folks think of taking a spring break trip, they often picture warm, sunny places with their toes snuggled deep into the sand. I’ve taken my share of spring trips to such places – landing me in the likes of Florida, Mississippi, and Arizona. But I don’t travel to sit on the beach, go shopping, or lay around the pool. I journey to such places to explore and go birding. So when I go to the beach, I’m...
If you've ever hiked in the Adirondack wilderness and experienced a pop-up storm along the way, I suspect you were happy to stumble across a remote rustic shelter welcoming you in from the rain. That may have been your first appreciation of an Adirondack lean-to. The three-sided cabin with a floor and an overhead roof might have seemed like a luxurious accommodation miles from civilization. Even if your pack had included a tent, the solid roof...
Ducks at the BridgeOver the past few weeks there has been a large congregation of ducks at the Champlain Bridge in Crown Point – best viewed from Chimney Point State Historic Site in Vermont. Then, just before Super Bowl Sunday, a drake Tufted Duck was found in the mix, but my schedule of work and other responsibilities kept me from searching for it until this past weekend. Ugh – I hate having to wait to find a good bird. The waiting became more...
Coupled up? If so, you've probably given some thought to the second Sunday in February. If you are looking for ideas to make that day unique, I’ve put together some options for couples to experience a very special weekend indeed. Perhaps you need to unwind, take a break from the routine, or simply spend some one-on-one time together. Pack your bags for the Adirondack Coast and a perfect Valentine's getaway.Two Romantic Lodging OptionsIf you are...
It was only a few years ago that I became acquainted with the term Nordic Skating. At the time I think I thought of it as Nordic skiing, only on a frozen body of water, but I have recently become a bit more familiar with this winter sport that is growing in popularity. As a youth, I lived right on the shore of Lake Champlain and winters found my brothers and me on the lake ice. However, I was on figure skates, they were on hockey skates; both...
A Chance to ExploreWith long weekends comes more time for Wren and me to get out exploring. So we took advantage of the recent 3-day weekend to not only stretch our cross-country skiing muscles near home but to go birding in the Lake Champlain Region where a growing throng of ducks has settled near the Champlain Bridge. Well, I went birding. Wren was mostly in it for the ride and the chance to nose around through the snow.The day had started...
The season may be off to a bit of a slow start, but that doesn’t stop the excited anticipation of snowmobile enthusiasts here along the Adirondack Coast. Conditions are improving as I write - with a good 3 inches of fresh powder last night. If you are one of these enthusiasts that like to venture onto some remote Adirondack trails, then more often than not you can thank a local snowmobile club for that opportunity. It is the effort and hard work...
An unseasonably warm start to winterWinter has had a difficult time making it to the Adirondacks and the entire northeast this year. A strong El Nino, a jet stream which remains far to the north, and perhaps a dose of climate change have mixed together delivering a concoction of warm air for much longer than many of us would like. Our ski centers were screaming for snow through Christmas and my skis and muscles were getting dusty with neglect....
It’s a chasm. It’s right there in the name, "Ausable Chasm." I’ve seen chasms before in other parts of the country, and I’ve toured chasms. They’re usually pretty cool but more or less the same. I’ve driven by this particular one on a number of occasions and have always been impressed with the view of Rainbow Falls from the bridge. But, until last week, I now shamefully admit I had never actually stopped at Ausable Chasm. I will now also eat a...
Wilderness Survival 201It’s amazing what you can learn in just 2 hours, even with the smooth sounds of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” running in the background of your mind.I signed up about 1.2 seconds after receiving a notice that Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (PMOEC) and Champlain Area Trails (CATS) were partnering up to host a Survival Skills Workshop at the Blueberry Hills Trail system in Elizabethtown. There was a family-...
A holiday traditionDuring this time of year of lights, shopping, travels and celebrations, birders add an additional item to their busy calendars: Christmas bird counts. The counts began this past Saturday with counts in Plattsburgh and Ferrisburgh, Vermont (this count includes the Westport area). While my busy schedule precluded me from helping with those, the following day was marked by the Vermont Islands Count, a count which includes the...
The Champlain Area Trails System (CATS)Hiking for me isn’t always about trying to outdo the difficulty of my last adventure. Sometimes I like to just take it easy and visit places I don’t get to go very often. That’s what I had planned for this crisp morning in the Champlain Valley. It was late morning, and as we were wiping the cobwebs out of our eyes we decided to go for a bit of a drive and check out a place we hadn’t visited in a long time....
Skiing and Snowshoeing the Champlain ValleyThe Champlain Valley is chock-full of unique trails located up and down the Adirondack Coast, but sometimes the best bang for your buck are areas with many trails, loops, and levels of enjoyment. At the five locations I'm going to highlight, you will have the opportunity to XC-ski at all levels, snowshoe as long as your heart desires, and in non-snowy conditions you can trail run, hike, or just sightsee...
Stompin’ around the Champlain Valley is a good time in my mind, but on this trip I found myself reach out just a bit further. While doing a bit of historical research online the other day I happened across this preserve, set up by the Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC), called the Pole Hill Pond Preserve. I've never heard of this spot before but I have heard of Pole Hill, and although I knew its general vicinity I remembered it was on private...
Local residents are buzzing with their winter predictions - all the “whens” and the “ifs": Will we get much snow? Will it last? Will the big lake freeze? In recent years we have seen milder winters. This fall has been unseasonably mild which leads some to believe we are in for it “big-time.” No matter, we are prepared to give you some ideas for a few adventures to enjoy the magic of winter along the Adirondack Coast, regardless of the snow or...
Heading North to SouthI had a few stops to make in the Plattsburgh area this weekend, and after I was finished I took advantage of the trip by birding my way south along Lake Champlain. I started at AuSable Marsh Wildlife Management Area and the marsh was quiet, so I walked out to the beach where I could scan the lapping waves. Common loons were scattered here and there across the lake, joined by about the same number of horned grebes....
Predictions are for better than average amounts of snowfall this season which should make for some great winter trail activity. We are part of the Adirondack Park; 6-million-acres of winter wonderland playground, but let's keep in mind, that land is both public and private. If we simply want to venture out, not necessarily hitting a formalized ski center, where do we go? Whether we seek outdoor winter solitude, an opportunity to view wildlife...
We are rapidly approaching the end of October where thoughts turn dark as the sun sets early. Halloween prompts us to think in eerie, spooky, and macabre tones. These are not exactly typical thoughts when one thinks of Lake Champlain. How many enjoying the water’s surface on a sparkling summer day are aware of the dark, cold, somewhat grisly, lake bottom or realize they are playing in a graveyard.On the Water ActivityLake Champlain stretches...
Planning Around The WeatherI was looking at the weather for a planned guiding trip and saw our recent cold front poised to dump rain and wind upon us. We moved the trip off to coincide with the windy end of the front when it might push some birds of interest our way. It was good that we did. It rained and rained on our original date but when we met at Westport Boat Launch a couple days later it was sunny and blustery with a strong wind out of...
When I think of fall, spectacular scenery, musical goose migration, finding the perfect decorative pumpkin, colorful hikes, and of course, apples, spring to mind. Have you noticed the nights are getting cooler? Some of them are dropping into the 40s. This makes the apple growers smile. I learned it takes the cooler nights for the apples to develop their desired red color. That’s not all I learned during a recent visit to Gunnison’s Orchards,...
New at Fort TiconderogaBoat cruises are a new feature this summer at Fort Ticonderoga. I can’t say that they are underrated, more undiscovered, as yet. Once the word gets out, we may have to book far in advance. I picked the perfect late summer day to hop on board and give this new experience a try. I was not disappointed. For this start-up year the boat is operating out of the NYS DEC’s Ticonderoga Boat Launch. Next year the Fort plans to...
In my opinion, autumn is actually the best time to visit the Lake Champlain Region. The Adirondack Coast sparkles during this season with some crystal-clear sunny days and cool, crisp, great sleeping weather, nights. It’s the perfect season for hiking one of the many CATS trails. The views from atop one of our mountains along the lake go on forever. Often winds subside and boaters enjoy skimming across, or paddling, the flatwater which like a...
Starting in WestportI was guiding and birding with a friend last week in the Champlain Valley where we worked a section of lakeshore from Westport to Willsboro. We started at the Westport Boat Launch - where I often begin trips that will focus on that region of the lake. The woods were largely quiet, but as I stood there overlooking the water the scolding chatter of Blue Jays and other birds brought a Cooper’s Hawk sitting in a tree to my...
A Chance to ExploreWren and I were exploring the Adirondack Coast and Ticonderoga Area this past week and as part of our adventure we paddled Ticonderoga Marsh. Our trip started off well as a Merlin raced above us as we put-in at the Town of Ticonderoga Recreation Park. We nosed our bow quietly down the La Chute River waving to a few fishermen, who, if we can believe their fish stories, told us they were having good success.Birding as I...
Time for a Trip to ChazyWith August in full swing, it was time for me to take a trip to the Chazy Riverlands to check what shorebirds may be migrating through the area along Lake Champlain. I had a bit of a late start, but I like the afternoon and evening at Chazy anyway. I brought my boat since access to Chazy comes by paddling down along the marshes from the Great Chazy River boat launch, but I ended up deciding to walk into the marshes where...
Hiking in the Eastern Pharaoh Mountain WIldernessIt sure has been hot and humid the last few weeks and on those particular days when it seems to be the worst I have been available to get out and explore. The only remedy for that is to stay home and stay cool, but quite honestly I don’t see that as a plausible option. So, I packed extra water and planned for a bit of an earlier start, which are two very important steps. First off you have to stay...
Sunday is often “family day.” The entire family wants time together, but what to do. Where and how to find one destination that will appeal to family members with diverse ages and interests can be difficult. The historic community of Ticonderoga is prepared to cater to a wide variety of family-friendly interests, particularly on August 2nd.  On that Sunday consider making Bicentennial Park the central family hub. Car Show!Antique and...
It’s all about the outdoors in the Adirondacks! Does the idea of having your own little plot of ground sound appealing? That’s what our many campgrounds are all about. The key to a great camping vacation can be finding the ideal campsite that will be a good fit for your family. Whether you are coming with a tent, a lengthy RV, or merely supplies and gear, we are ready to accommodate. Here are a few ideas and features of our many campground...
Another ATBI!This year the Adirondack All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) took place in the Essex and Willsboro area of the Champlain Valley and I again helped with it. ATBIs, or Bioblitzes as they are often called, are conducted by naturalists and citizen scientists to help survey and document the diversity of the natural world around us. They are also events where naturalists from different disciplines can meet and learn from one another....
Paddle the Adirondack Waters with the Right GearFlatwater paddling, sure it’s relaxing, calming, and great exercise, but it should not be taken lightly. The Adirondacks, and especially the big waters in the Lake Champlain Region, have fast-changing weather patterns and sometimes ice cold water. When unforeseen mishaps occur, you can quickly go from a fun day in the sun to a very cold swim in deep waters. Hopefully this will never happen to you,...
In 2010, Velo Quebec hosted their Grand Tour through the Lake Champlain Region. This first-class Canadian cycling organization organizes numerous cycling tours.  Their top-of-the-line is the Grand Tour, an annual tour consisting of approximately 500-miles held at premier cycling destinations in North America. Each year approximately 2000 cyclists register and participate. Though most participating cyclists are from Canada, participants come...
When it comes to buying gear for your paddling adventure you shouldn’t make the wrong decision on what paddle to use. There are also special steps that should be taken to get the appropriate paddle for your time on the water. Below I would like to share with you a few important tips to help with purchasing the right paddle and, more importantly, sizing yourself for a paddle.Local rental programs      First, start...
How to decide which boat to buyPicking the right boat doesn’t need to be as daunting and overwhelming as you might think it’s going to be. Sure there are a ton of boats out there to choose from, and many questions you need answered to narrow down the field, but if you are prepared and start your shopping early, I know you can do it and be happy with the results. Go into this experience with an open mind, and you'll come out with a great ride....
Adirondack PioneersImagine it is the late 1970s and you have moved your family, including six children, into a Civil War-era farmhouse in the middle of the Adirondack wilderness. Let’s add to the challenge. The farmhouse has neither running water, nor electricity! Situated on its own 200 acres there were no neighbors very close and no market, or other community amenities, for miles. The thought of raising six children is scary enough, but pull...
Time for Another Trip to the ValleyWith spring pressing in on all sides, I had been itching to get to the Champlain Valley again to catch migrant and arriving birds while I could. When I found out that a Pink-footed Goose – a European rarity – had been found not far from the Champlain Bridge in Vermont, I contacted a friend to see if he wanted to go look for it. I had seen a Pink-footed in New Jersey in January and this could have been the same...
Flower Show AlertGet ready for the Grand Opening of the Adirondack's Annual Flower Show. It is a little early yet, but time to make plans and preparation. As the temperatures warm and the snow melts our forests and woodlands begin to display their finery. For me this is the best time to get out on a hike, connect with nature, and get a peek at some of the gifts it has to offer. I love the Adirondack's earliest blooms, perhaps because it has been...
Of Melting Snow and Frozen IceThe first changes which come with spring are always exciting. I had to meet someone in Plattsburgh this week and took advantage of the trip and the beautiful spring weather to look for birds in the Champlain Valley. The ground was almost devoid of snow across the valley as the warmer temps (when compared to the center of the park) have melted off most of what was on the ground. They still have a long way to go in de...
Prolong the life of your gearThe end to a long winter season is once again upon us. It’s time to start thinking about how you make you winter gear stay in the condition you desire while being stored in the off-season. Throughout the winter season your gear gets wet then dry, wet then dry, and this process continues right through the season. The more active your season the more important it is to take care of your gear, so it takes care of you....
No ProblemEvery family with a tail wagging member faces the big dilemma when planning the annual vacation. What will we do with the dog? The wagging tail droops as all eyes focus on the subject. Then the head lowers and those sad, pitiful eyes begin to make contact with everyone around the room landing on the pack leader with a sorrowful, questioning, expression. Yes, it can rip your heart out. Making any attempt to justify kenneling such...
Abundance of Recreation and NatureSituated directly on the Adirondack Coast, on Lake Shore Road about half way between the hamlets of Westport and Essex, is an unusual site - a remarkable playground for any outdoor enthusiast. There is a plethora of outdoor experiences and recreational opportunities to be had all in one place, rather a one-stop “shopping mall” for nature lovers. This site has everything: history, water, views, cliffs, forest,...
Searching for Open WaterThis past weekend I took advantage of some warmer weather to head to the Champlain Valley for some birding. I’m leading a birdwatching trip in a week and a half and I wanted to scope things out ahead of time. Chief among my concerns was the lack of water, or more correctly, the dominance of ice on the water’s surface. The Essex-Charlotte Ferry recently shut down temporarily due to the ice conditions and that means there...
TwoThis week’s blog topic is “TWO” and I have been searching for inspiration ever since the assignment. This has had me thinking like Noah for days. The Lake Champlain Region has an abundance of everything. Where are the important twos I should be blogging about? Distracted by having to thaw water pipes twice this past week and continually having to search for my second glove, I began to feel plagued by twos. It finally hit me. Like the missing...
A Rare and Exciting FindIt was exciting news, although frustratingly so since I couldn’t do anything about it at the time: my friend had texted me that he had found a white-phase Gyrfalcon on the frozen waters of Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh. However, I was out of town and had become quite sick, I needed to wait to heal up before I could go looking for the bird. Other birders did search over the ensuing days, yet none of them came up with...
What's the one thing you need to hike safely on icy terrain?The snow and ice is here, sorta, and while the snow might not stick around for too long, the cold weather will come back around and produce some pretty darn good ice. No matter the course of the future, the current conditions are what you should think about. And in most areas, especially below 3000 feet, there is more ice than true snow coverage – this last warm spell didn’t help...
One ThingWhen asked to make a recommendation of one thing that was not to be missed when visiting our Lake Champlain Region I had a very difficult time. After all we are rich with unique features: historic forts, quaint villages, world class art and music, 100+ year old attractions, and an abundance of recreational opportunities. And, all of these features are set against a back drop of awe-inspiring scenic beauty - some of the best in the world...
A fundamental requirement for ice fishing is, of course, a body of water with a frozen surface. Right now, as I write, that is not the case on Lake Champlain, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen soon. Here it is near the end of December and Lake Champlain is, for the most part, wide open. In fact I saw boats on the water just yesterday, pretty much unheard of at this time of year. I asked a few of our local veteran fishermen about their...
Winter Birding in the ValleyWhile winter offers us fewer species of birds than does the summer, winter birding is no less interesting as a variety of species from the north come into our area to enjoy our relatively balmy temperatures (when compared to the arctic). I guided a few recent birding trips into the Champlain Valley and while each was a success, the composition of the species we found varied from day to day. For instance, there was a...
Skaters Gonna SkateLet me start with the following statement: I am not a strong swimmer.I’ve always had a slight fear of the water - though I realize it is a necessary evil if I’m going to paddle anywhere. I can swim, yes, but it’s not my best subject. Frozen water, is, of course, still a form of water.  And a healthy fear of water has gotten me this far, so I’m going to retain my cautious approach. I grew up on the shores of Lake...
A Holiday TraditionChristmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have now started across the country and on Sunday I was out with a friend helping count birds in the area surrounding Point Au Roche north of Plattsburgh. This one is actually part of a count of the islands of northern Lake Champlain in Vermont, but the count circle overlaps the state boundary. After a week filled with snowy, windy, and overcast weather, we had lucked out with a good day. Cloudy...
100+ MilesWhen out enjoying the public recreation land along the Adirondack Coast it’s easy to become enamored with the undeveloped natural landscape and captivated by the scenic beauty of the mountains, streams and forests. But, are we sufficiently appreciative of all the components that make this possible? Do we ever consider who maintains the trails that permit us access, or wonder who built the convenient lean-to for our shelter and how it...
Staying Fit for the HolidaysThe Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is a rather large network of trails for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, birding, and picnicking in the Champlain Valley that stretches as far west as Elizabethtown. Many of the trails are built and maintained by a not-for-profit organization that was started back in 2009 to link communities, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality. Along with these ever so important...
A Great Day to go Birding in the ValleyWhile the late fall in our region has been marked by a string of snowy days and wintry weather – which may portend a good ski season – I was happy to have a sunny (if cold) day on the weekend to head out for some birding in the Champlain Valley. I had been in and out of town and I hadn’t been able to make it to some of my favorite spots in the Valley for a while so I was excited to see what birds were...
Keeping active when the snow hasn’t arrived While not all trails in the Lake Champlain Region area are perfect for trail running, many you will find do fit the bill. Trail conditions and topography play a huge role in what’s good, OK, and not-so-OK. Trail running has hit the scene in a big way with running clubs, races, endurance races, and just plain old keeping in shape; what better place than the Lake Champlain Region to get started. Are...
Something new around every cornerThe Split Rock Wild Forest is made up of 3,700 acres which lies on the Shores of Lake Champlain in the Eastern Foothills of the Adirondack Park. The wild forest is made up of nine different trails, all of which intersect at least one other, making for nearly countless loops and adventures at your fingertips. Want vistas, mountain views, wildlife, water access, wild flowers, birding, trail running, snowshoeing,...
It’s so easy to fall in love with the Lake Champlain Region. I see it on visitors’ faces all the time. “It’s SO beautiful here,” say many first time visitors that walk through the door at the Lake Champlain Visitors Center. The site distance and scenic beauty are captivating; awesome really. The level plane of the lake, juxtaposed against a back drop of the Adirondack Mountains offers an incredibly visually appealing contrast. When you combine...
Putting in on the LaChute RiverWren and I completed a camping trip this past October with a paddle into Ticonderoga Marsh, a beautiful stretch of cattails and mucky edges formed where the LaChute River flows into Lake Champlain. There are two chief ways to access the marsh. The first is to put in at the boat launch near the Ticonderoga Ferry and head south. The second is to use the small boat launch at the Town of Ticonderoga Recreational Park...
NCNST InfoThe North Country National Scenic Trail winds 4,600 miles through 7 of our northern-most states and ends (or begins, depending upon your perspective) practically at the door step of the Lake Champlain Visitors Center. This trail began as a brainstorm of the US Forest Service in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1980 that Congress passed the necessary legislation and created the North Country National Scenic Trail. My understanding is...
Far from home The phone call caught me by surprise. I was out walking with Wren on a recent Saturday, when my friend called to tell me that a Brown Booby had been discovered at the Crown Point Bridge. The Caribbean species was a long, long way from home and I packed up some birding gear and headed down to Crown Point.There was a small gaggle of birders flocked at Crown Point State Historic Site looking through their scopes when I arrived....
 The Fish Are Jumping…A few clouds never scared us away from an adventure, and today we are taking on Lake Champlain - and betting that the haze will burn off by mid-morning.We head out of Lake Placid at 6:30am and an hour or so later, after a quick pit-stop for much-needed coffee and snacks, we are ready to launch the boat and take to the ‘high seas’ as Oliver calls it. We are at the Ticonderoga Boat Launch and Lake Champlain is looking...
Coot Hill and Big HollowSome time ago Chris Maron, CATS' Executive Director, told me that this spot has a great view--one that's different from the vantage points I'm used to. He was absolutely right. Located in Crown Point, Coot Hill is a new trail on the Champlain Area Trails map. With a name like Coot Hill I had to check out this destination.Getting to Coot HillFrom Port Henry I traveled south on Rte 22 to Edgemont...
I love to fish. Can’t say I’m any good at it, but I do enjoy trying. Fishing Lake Champlain is rather like treasure hunting. With over 90 different species of fish, you never know what you may pull out of the water. At least that is the case with me.Fishing without a boat on Lake ChamplainNot having a boat in my life right now, I fish from shore. One of my favorite places to fish is the Port Henry Pier which is adjacent to the Village of...
Looking for a great hike to fit into a busy vacation?  Last weekend I hiked one of the nicest peaks in the area. Joined by Sophie Gagnon and her companion from Dunham, Quebec I set out to show my visitors as much as I could of the Ticonderoga area. The easiest way to do that is to get up high and see the lay of the land from above.B & B Breakfast I started the morning by picking Sophie and Denis up at Sugar Hill Manor Bed and...
Never the Same TwiceEvery time I enter the grounds of Fort Ticonderoga, I feel like I have stepped onto a sacred place. I am somewhat aware of all the hardships, struggles, and sacrifices made on these 2000 acres when our country was just beginning; although I learn and appreciate more with every visit. Thanks to the Fort Ticonderoga Association, the stories here are preserved, explained in intricate detail and become vividly alive. No matter...
Favorite hike on a favorite day - National Trails DayEach year the first Saturday in June is designated as National Trails Day. There were lots of local celebrations underway last weekend but I decided to do a quick hike on my own to a favorite destination I have frequently done with children--Mount Gilligan. The name itself sounds fun.The Trail for Gilligan BeginsThe trail begins 2.6 miles south of New Russia from a parking area on Scriver Road...
Lake Champlain Adirondack Coast BikingThe term “coast” as applied to a stretch of land elicits a certain image in your mind, right? You’d think that a region along a “coast” would consist of a largely flat, waterfront landscape.Well, the Adirondack Coast IS, indeed comprised in part of rolling farmlands along the western shore of Lake Champlain. But it is also the eastern edge of the Adirondacks, after all, so there’s bound to be a hill or two....
Boating From Manhattan to MontrealMany are surprised when I tell them that they could launch their boat anywhere along our Lake Champlain Region and easily end up in Manhattan or Montreal. I often get a raised eyebrow, but some are aware that the Champlain Canal connects the southern end of Lake Champlain to the Hudson River. At the northern end, the Chambly Canal connects to the Richelieu and St Lawrence. Although I have never made the...
Spring Brings Wildflowers on The Grand HikeYesterday I hiked fourteen miles, beginning just up the hill from home. Thanks to the Champlain Area Trails I was able to hike from the Westport Hotel and Tavern to the Essex Inn on a series of connected sections of easy roadways and very, very pretty trails. For the Champlain Valley this is a new feat and the successful completion of a goal set several years ago by local trailbuilders.I was joined on...
In my youth the mention of history would make me wrinkle my nose. That was during the school years of course, when I related history to a classroom setting with nothing but a boring memorization of strange names and odd dates. On Lake Champlain, I was living in the birthplace of America and enjoying history on a daily basis, but did not connect the dots. Textbooks aside out of the classroom, the historic sites of our Lake Champlain Region were...
Tracking Wildlife on Snowshoes Sure, a lot of people love snowshoeing on a marked trail to the top of a mountain or along a loop through a beautiful Adirondack forest. That’s admirable.In contrast, my recent snowshoe excursion involved bushwhacking through deep snow over downed trees and frozen swamps; all to solve a mystery. It all started when I saw that Champlain Area Trails (CATS) was hosting a winter wildlife tracking snowshoe...
Ready - Set - LaunchLaunch your boat at one of the many boat launches or marinas along the Adirondack Coast and a 450 square mile playground is available to you. Stretching approximately 125 miles from northern to southern end this vast lake borders two states and rests in two countries. It may surprise you to learn that once on the Lake Champlain water, you could easily voyage to Montreal by traveling north, or Manhattan by traveling south....
Lake Champlain is a big attraction in the Adirondacks through every season. The lake dictates weather, moods, activities and gear. This winter has been a wild one. Each week Lake Champlain has had a completely different character. I walk my dog to the boat launch in Westport most days so I have a chance to get up close and watch as the season progresses.  Natures mood swingsIn January, temperatures were too warm to cool the water but...
Spider Kim at The Crux - Indoor Rock ClimbingDoes everyone know that there’s an indoor rock climbing gym in Willsboro on the Adirondack Coast? I have known for years. Amazingly, however, this winter represents the first time I’d visited our local indoor gym, The Crux. After all, it has been there since 2009, and my friends have all raved about it. So THIS winter, I decided to plan a visit on one of their special Ladies’ Nights, when women...
February events in the Lake Champlain RegionThe Lake Champlain Region is gearing up for a busy February, with historic re-enactments, concerts, rock climbing and snowshoe hikes for starters.Ice and rock climbing talkWinter Climbing will be the subject of the CRUX Climbing Center's event on February 4th. Famous Adirondack ice and rock climber and author, Don Mellor, will be on hand along with Mark Scott to discuss ice climbing technique in the...
            Wren and I visited AuSable Marsh and AuSable Point the other day to look for birds and take a walk.  Even though our goal was to look for waterfowl, our first bird was a Merlin flying fast and low along the road as we were arriving.  The small falcon turned toward the road and came directly over our car!  Merlins tend to make beelines between their destinations and...
            I did a little birding and hiking with Wren in Point AuRoche earlier this week.  We started around Cumberland Head just north of Plattsburgh, checking out the mouth of the Saranac River and the Ferry Terminal.  There was a mixture of open water and ice at the river mouth, but there were very few birds besides a handful of Mallards and a lone American Black Duck. ...
Updates on Fresh Catch & Peak Ice Fishing SpotsOnce Lake Champlain starts firming up with the cold weather, local fishermen start thinking ice fishing. Jigs and tip ups are rousted out. Shanties cleaned and prepared for their annual trip out onto the ice. Sub- zero ice making temperatures are wished for like the pre-Christmas sugarplums. Not a lot of the colorful wood constructed shanties have appeared as yet, but some recent artic temps...
  Searching for Raptors (and other predatory birds) in the Magic Triangle          Earlier this week some friends and I drove over to what some birders call the Magic Triangle located between Westport and Essex. We were looking for raptors and other field birds, and there had been reports of a Snowy Owl in the area and we were hoping to see and possibly photograph it.   ...
            Our invasion of Snowy Owls in the Northeast continues.  Snowies are being found up and down the Atlantic seaboard with large numbers in places like coastal Massachusetts and New Jersey, where I saw four while visiting family over the holidays.  In the past week in our region alone a Snowy Owl was found along Moffit Road in Plattsburgh, at least one and perhaps two...
Family Fun along the Adirondack CoastHere's a little chronicle of my family's recent picks of outdoor fun.  When you have ice you have to go with it.Most of what we love is free and local, making for easy, family vacation time. Despite cold temperatures we needed to get outside and exercise to justify our caloric intake (!).  You all know what I mean.The day before Christmas was super icy so we opted for a hike on--what else--a nearby...
            Over the holidays I took a trip to the Champlain Valley for some birding. I started at the Westport boat launch where there were a few species of ducks assembled including Bufflehead, Common Mergansers, and Common Goldeneye.  The area around the wastewater treatment plant held it usual flock of gulls as well as a few ducks, but it was fairly quiet.  I did find a small...
Snowshoeing the Black Kettle TrailLast week before the ice came I had a great hike with my daughters who are both home for a few weeks.  They love to get outside after months in urban places so we take every chance we can to check out the woods. The snow last week was fluffy and light and every little crystal was twinkling because the temperature was so low (16 degrees when we left the car) and the sun was out.Getting ThereWe parked near...
            We have reached the time of year when birders everywhere span out across the landscape and conduct Christmas Bird Counts.  This past weekend’s winter storm was cancelling, postponing, and threatening many counts held on Saturday and Sunday and so a friend and I went up to Plattsburgh on Saturday to scout and look for count week birds should the Plattsburgh count (held on...
            This weekend found me in the Champlain Valley birding with some friends, taking advantage of the nice weather.  We found 46 species of birds – not a bad tally for a December day.  We started our day at Westport where the boat launch had a small collection of ducks and large numbers of Canada Geese.  We searched through the geese for something different in their...
Living in the Lake Champlain Region sure has its benefitsBecause of its topography, linking the peaks of the Adirondack mountains to the fields of the Champlain valley and eventually to the big lake itself, the region offers some of the very best terrain for two of my favorite outdoor recreational activities; road biking and cross country skiing. The varied and meandering country roads that I cycle on in warmer months aren't necessarily...
            With our current arctic freeze bearing down on us this weekend, my friend and I jumped on the last warm(ish) day in the forecast and headed to the Champlain Valley for some birding.  We didn’t find much of interest at Cumberland Head north of Plattsburgh so we headed north to Point AuRoche to check out the enormous numbers of Snow Geese which have been assembled there....
This morning the wind was blowing like fury and the temperature was 16 degrees but I needed to go outside.  After spending a day at my desk yesterday I was ready for some fresh air. I'm spoiled and have my pick of the entire Champlain Valley and Eastern Adirondacks right out the door but today I headed for a favorite overlook with an easy retreat if the wind proved too hostile.I bundled up and donned my blaze orange head band (it's still...
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;...
            Over the past couple years I’ve occasionally seen a Red Fox in my neighborhood.  I first noted fox scats on the rocks which border my steps – something which caught Wren’s attention as well.  Sometimes when something out of the ordinary has visited the yard I can tell by how excited Wren is when I let her out first thing in the morning.  I finally had my first...
            I went looking for Snow Geese in the Champlain Valley the other day with one simple goal– find the flocks of Snow Geese that were staging there on their way south and search them for a Ross’s Goose.  I started at Point AuRoche State Park where I went to the beach and let Wren run around the large open field while I scoped through the five or six hundred or so Snow Geese...
            I had to be in Plattsburgh at the beginning of the week and so I took the opportunity and a beautiful day to go birding in the area in the afternoon.  My goal was to check out an immature Sandhill Crane which had been found a few days earlier.  The bird was discovered hanging out along Moffit Road a little north of Plattsburgh, feeding in some recently plowed farm...
            My friend and I spent some time birding in the Champlain Valley on Saturday.  It was chilly and overcast early and we did have to tuck into the car during some cold showers and wind later in the day, but we still had a successful time out.  We started at Westport, and while there weren’t many birds at the boat launch besides a few Bufflehead, we found quite a few gulls...
            While I was out birding a couple weeks ago with friends, we found good numbers of rusty blackbirds.  The first birds we noted were in some state land north of Westport in Webb Royce Swamp.  Rusty’s spend most of their time in such wetlands – both breeding in the north, and during the winter months in the southeast.  The birds we found were migrating on their way...
            The other day, my friends and I were checking out what some birders call the Magic Triangle, just north of Westport.  We poked around along a series of hedgerows and fields, finding good sized flocks of red-winged blackbirds, yellow-rumped warblers and white-throated sparrows, but not much else.  We chatted with a couple deer hunters who were returning empty handed, and...
            This past weekend I went birding in the Champlain Valley with some friends and one of our stops was at Noblewood Park in Willsboro.  Noblewood’s sandy spit may be best known for attracting shorebirds during the late summer, but we were interested in anything that might be stopping through on a fall day, beginning our time with a pileated woodpecker at the parking area....
The fall colors keep tempting me to fit little hikes in between appointments and events.  I love going back to see what's new on a trail I haven't seen for a few months. This week I hiked the Homestead Trail.  It's a CATS trail in Whallonsburgh that starts .75 mile from the Leaning Road, just west of Black Kettle Farm.The trailhead begins heading south from a very inconspicous break in the woods through an area of spindly pole timber....
            My friends and I checked out a few spots in the Champlain Valley this weekend for birds.  We had hoped to find a variety of migrants heading south, and while that didn’t materialize, we did find a few nice birds.  We had a bit of a late start after birding in the Lake Placid area in the morning, but we headed north to the Chazy Riverlands to look for shorebirds. ...
            Last week I checked out Noblewood Park in Willsboro for late summer birds.  Noblewood’s sandy spit attracts a variety of species such as gulls and shorebirds at this time of year, and I wanted to see if anything of note was there.  There had also been a report of an immature little gull at Noblewood and I wanted to see if it was still around.    ...
Harvest Festival Week is coming! This is one of my favorite times of year; as it allows one to explore the abundant local produce and farms in our area.  Essex County has a wonderful selection of small farms that distribute their goods via CSA, farmers markets, roadside stands, grocers, and local restaurants.  Adirondack Harvest works to connect these local farmers to their communities and regional markets, expanding consumer...
This week I hiked the Rocky Ledges Trail of the CATS system. It starts at an inconspicous trailhead on the Leaning Road in Essex, just south of the Jersey Street bridge over the Boquet River.  The trail begins in what was once a meadow and I quickly came to an apple tree that had probably belonged to a former farm.  You don't usually see apples under pine trees but there were pretty yellow apples all over the ground beneath the white...
            Over the past few weeks, local birders have been heading to Chazy Landing to an area where the Great and Little Chazy Rivers empty into Lake Champlain.  The rivers create a small set of mudflats and wet meadows, and since shorebird habitat is difficult to come by in the region, the small area attracts a wide variety of species.  And while the location is on private land...
I’m not a “big fish” kind of fisherman.I still like to go out and “just catch fish.” They don’t need to be big, although I do prefer a steady stream of them. I guess I’ll never be a muskie fisherman.But I have to admit that the lake trout in Lake Champlain have always been in the back of my mind. Although I’ve never gone out on the lake and specifically targeted lakers, that thought is always there when we’re floating for bass (what has become...
            I was again birding with friends this past weekend in the Champlain Valley, and one of the places we stopped was at Noblewood Park in Willsboro.  Noblewood has a nice forest of mixed deciduous trees and eastern hemlock and we found a few woodland birds such as tufted titmouse and red-eyed vireo on our walk there.  But we weren’t particularly interested in woodland birds...
            A friend and I went birding in the Champlain Valley this past weekend looking for late summer birds.  All told we found better than 70 species and started our day at the Westport boat launch.  There we found a horned grebe in splendid breeding plumage – its yellow tufts and rufous neck looking great in the sunlight.  We generally only find horned grebes during the...
This is the time of year when I sometimes have to force myself to fish. Yeah, I know – tough decision. But it’s hot and it’s sticky and, well, I just really don’t feel like sitting out on a boat in the blazing sun on the lake all day.But when Steve suggests an evening run up Lake Champlain for smallmouth, sometimes I’ll bite.There were evenings, back when we had the Bass Tracker, I would let him go fast enough to feel the wind on my face and...
You know that moment when you’re about to come to a stop on your road bike, and realize that you’ve unclipped from your right pedal, but you’re leaning to the LEFT?Well, that happened the last time I cycled on the Stevenson Road. This time, I paid better attention.We live in one of the best places in the world for road cycling here on the Adirondack Coast. And as it’s near our house, I often start off on a ride from the southern end of Stevenson...
When President Lincoln issued a call for volunteers in the spring of 1861, the citizens of Essex County responded immediately and in numbers far out of proportion to their population.  Crown Point, Elizabethtown, Keeseville, and Moriah quickly formed companies. Throughout 1861, men from all over the county followed suit; joining existing infantry regiments, forming new ones, or creating special cavalry or artillery units to fill specific...
Ah!…. A chance to learn about Adirondack Fire Towers!  These mountain-top sentries have a particular fascination; and, of course, incredible views! The Adirondack History Center Museum received an Education and Outreach Grant from the Champlain Valley National Historical Partnership to sponsor a series of classes and hikes focused on the historic role of Adirondack fire towers in forest stewardship. There are three choices of dates to...
This is the time of year when we Adirondackers – after 16 years up here I'll take theliberty of counting myself as one – wonder where in the hell the summer has gone, why we haven't done enough fishing, why the boat hasn't been out on Lake Champlain nearly enough, and whether we have enough wood stockpiled for the winter, which could arrive anytime between now and mid-October.It's a North Country paranoia of sorts, one that usually spawns a...
I wondered why the parking lot at the boat launch was empty.All day, I knew that it was predicted to rain late that afternoon, and all day I planned to get out on Lake Champlain for a short paddle. Yet I didn't pack up a boat and gear until around 4pm; the time after which there was an increased chance of rain.No matter. There wasn't a hint of a breeze at our house, only a few miles away from the boat launch in Port Henry where I planned to put...
No, bastard toadflax isn't profanity from a peak bagger with road-rage. It's a wildflower. Comandra umbellata to be exact. Actually the USDA plant data base calls it a "subshrub."  It's starting to bloom right now on many of the Champlain Hills.  Catchy name if you ask me. Yesterday I got out of a meeting in Essex early so on the way home I decided to check out the Wildway Overlook trail on South Boquet Mountain. With the weather being...
The other week while I was out hiking and birding with friends, we saw a great horned owl fly silently through a clearing and disappear back into the woods. I was screened by trees in the forest, but could see the owl's big head (my friend calls them jughead as a result) and broad wings, leaving no doubt what it was. My friends and I quickly turned around and tried to find it in the trees. We didn't need to do so.As we walked a few paces back in...
This week when thunderstorms were threatening just about every hour I cancelled two trips and it never stormed. By Thursday I decided to brave the forecast.  I had planned to bike or paddle but in light of the thunder that was predicted I opted for low elevation and good canopy at the Blueberry Trails in Elizabethtown.  I've been working with two young hikers on completing the entire circuit of the trail system and we hadn't covered...
This is it--the big week of the year for ephemeral wildflowers.  The show has been building and it's full-on flowers right now. Every color and every size and shape. These flowers show themselves for such a short time you have to take advantage of every chance you get to see them. The forest seems like a deliberately designed garden in places.  I guess that shouldn't seem surprising. Mother Nature does that sort of thing. Each year the...
The timing of bird migration is a tricky thing to predict. Over the past two weeks, I've seen a variety of migrants passing through the area – including some nice species in my yard. But reports of many species are still few and far between, and other species are absent altogether. It is still early for many species after all.At the beginning of this week Kendra and I ventured to Crown Point to check out the bird banding station which will...