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 Water
Everyone 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 character. Champlain Valley views flanked by the majestic Adirondacks to the west and Vermont’s Green Mountains to the east are breathtaking.
One of the most straightforward ways to accomplish this is to get aboard a watercraft, and a simple solution is to ride a ferry. For a brief, but historic, excursion head to the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry at the end of Route 74 near the entrance to Fort Ticonderoga and adjacent to the NYS DEC Ticonderoga Boat Launch. This is a cable ferry and one of the oldest ferry crossings in North America. The trip across only takes 6 or 7 minutes and welcomes pedestrians, cyclists, cars, trucks, and RVs from early May until late October. Lake Champlain Transportation Company offers the year-round opportunity for a ferry ride out of Essex, NY. Here the lake is a bit broader and the crossing time is about a half an hour long.
Cruising on the Water
If you trailer your own power boat, you have many free NYS boat launch options to choose from to get it in the lake. Marinas and campgrounds located on the water often have boat launch options too, but may charge a fee. Once on the water the adventure is yours. Whether you simply want to cruise and take in the scenic beauty, ride a tube or waterski, or try your luck in one of America’s top fishing lakes — the options are abundant. When it’s time for a meal and refreshment, Port Henry, Westport, Essex, and Willsboro all have dining options directly on the water or within steps from the tie up.
Should the boat stay at home, there are still many possibilities for getting out on the water. Power boat rentals are available at most marinas, though you may want to reserve in advance. Stop by a marina to check out their selections or talk to the Adirondack Boat Rental Company, who will trailer the boat to you.
Consider a historical cruise narrated by the highly knowledgeable interpretive staff at Fort Ticonderoga. The Fort offers cruises aboard the Carillon, a 49-passenger tour boat. Special group tours and charters can also be pre-arranged.
The Westport Marina offers a Captain and You cruise in addition to a selection of boat rentals. Sit back, relax, and your own captain will escort you around the lake pointing out key features and local history. Check this marina also for narrated lake cruises aboard the Escape, a 45-foot cruise vessel that holds over 45 people. This cruise boat normally operates out of the Basin Harbor Club in Vermont, but it does do special excursions from the Westport Marina on select summer dates.
Normandie Beach Resort also offers a variety of boat rentals, and you needn’t be an overnight guest there to make use of them. The resort offers day, week, and even seasonal memberships for you to take advantage of their gorgeous lake front grounds, beach, restaurants, and amenities. Instructors are available to acquaint you with a wide variety of watersports.
There are several local options for fishing charters and guides should you want to try for a record bass, salmon, or lake trout while enjoying the boating time. You could also watch the masters as fishing tournaments begin in June. H2O Adventures not only serve as fishing guides, but also offer charters for a sunset cruise or other water excursion of your choosing.
If paddling is more to your liking, you have an additional selection of sites to get your boat on the water depending upon your craft, of course. Canoeists and kayakers love the car-top boat launch in Ticonderoga on the LaChute River. Below Bicentennial Falls, this rushing river flowing from Lake George to Lake Champlain with a drop equivalent to Niagara Falls, flattens and provides a delightful, shady paddle out to Lake Champlain right at Fort Ticonderoga.
If you left your paddling craft behind, Fort Ticonderoga rents canoes on a full- or half-day basis. You can paddle the LaChute in reverse and have lunch at one of the many restaurants within walking distance in downtown Ticonderoga. The trip back would be downstream — easier on a full stomach.
Canoes, kayaks, pedal boats, and even stand up paddle boards are available for rent at a variety of locations as well. Some accommodations and campgrounds even have these available for their guests, as with Bulwagga Bay Campground in Port Henry, Normandie Beach Resort in Westport, and Cupola House and Cottages in Essex.
However you get there, you need to include time to ride the waves of Lake Champlain. Tote along your boat or let us help you get onboard.
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