What a day and what a destination! Yesterday I took a group to the Crown Point State Historic Site for an adventure that definitely made history for us. I selected the spot because the snow conditions had the potential to be sticky but we wanted a crack at some skiing if there was a chance. With one in the party feeling under the weather we picked a flat route and a guaranteed view.

The trails at Crown Point are listed in some written guides but seem to be underused. Not finding much in the way of trail signs, we just followed our instincts. We had a blast tracking foxes all over the grounds and checking out the margins of the ice where it's receding from the main ice sheet and the new Lake Champlain Bridge.

The snow turned out to be fantastic so we cruised the perimeter then cut down through the area where the bird banding station will be set up in May. As we stopped for a snack we heard birds in every direction, calling and singing and screeching. It is only March but there are returning migrants everywhere. We checked out the shrubby trees where many birds take cover and find food. The hawthorns in the mix have ridiculously, threatening thorns but the leaves, flowers and seeds provide important food for bird and butterflies in their season. That happens later in the year though...

Crown Point State Historic Site
Crown Point State Historic Site

We continued across the field and came back through the ruins, first ascending the high embankments that protected the various fort structures over the centuries. All of my young expedition-mates tore up the short, steep grade without a care, knowing they'd have a great view at the top and the fun of either navigating the ridge or descending the other side.

There were tracks throughout the ruins and on every ridge. We found several foxholes—not the military style but the places where foxes pounced through the snow to nab a mousy snack from beneath the surface.

Cross Country Skiing in the Champlain Valley
Cross Country Skiing in the Champlain Valley

Physical energy was high due to the gorgeous sunny, cool weather so we only stopped briefly to check out the historic interpretation signage. There are good graphic explanations of the officers' quarters and the soldiers' barracks. There is also a panel that explains the fortifications that used to complete the stone structures that are left standing. I took just enough time to learn that a parapet is a section of a rampart.

In addition to being a place of historic events and structures, the Crown Point Historic Site is the eastern end of the North Country Trail National Scenic Trail. We spent two hours and didn't even cross the road where the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse and the Crown Point Pier have more history and adventure to offer. Next season we return with bikes! 


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