How to Enjoy a Colorful Fall in the Lake Champlain Region

Fall can be a spectacular time to visit the Lake Champlain Region. In my opinion, it can be the best time to visit! The Adirondack Coast comes alive with color and its typically stunning scenic beauty is magnified when “in bloom.” Crystal clear sunny days and cool nights can be the perfect conditions for enhanced viewing and outdoor recreation.

A little pre-planning and patience

Of course, 2020 is no typical year. It’s advisable to do a little homework and pre-planning to make certain your visit does not disappoint, regardless of the spectacular surroundings. Many sites and places of business are operating under restrictions and limited hours during this pandemic. Be certain to bring a mask and be prepared to courteously accommodate any request that you wear it. Remember staff doesn’t make the rules, nor likes asking you to follow them.

At the top of every page on our website is a link to current travel updates. This is a “what to know before you go” page filled with updated information that will help you plan your visit. It will also inform you of many state, local, and individual site restrictions and visitor guidelines. In addition, our events calendar will let you know what is happening during your visit. It also will give you more “what to know” information regarding our most popular sites and attractions.

Tip:  At some point we all need rest facilities. These can be a little elusive during this unusual time. Some sites that were able to provide restroom access prior, are now under restrictions for everyone’s health and safety. Our region has several Stewart’s Shops that do provide public restrooms. Find one in Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Elizabethtown and Keeseville. But there are numerous locations throughout the North Country; the Stewart's website can help you locate one nearby. These happy little convenience stores are a great place to grab an ice cream, a snack, or fill up the gas tank as well.

 

Some ideas to expand an autumn visit

Fort Ticonderoga

This fall, Fort Ticonderoga welcomes visitors Wednesday through Sundays, 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. through October 11. General admission is capped at 450 visitors per day, so it is highly recommended that tickets be purchased online in advance. You may purchase tickets at the gate with a credit card.

The Annual Heritage, Harvest and Horse Festival will take place at the fort on Saturday, October 3. Discover the historical importance of horses as well as other working animals during this day of demonstrations, a farmers’ market, and many other family fun activities. Mick and Mack, the Fort’s friendly, hardworking oxen team will be there! If you can make this festival you will be able to enjoy that along with Fort Ticonderoga’s regular daily programs. In addition, you will be able to tackle the Heroic Corn Maze, open weekends, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., through October 11, as well.

Know that your general admission ticket permits access to Mount Defiance. Talk about a bird’s eye view of this historic landscape! You will be amazed at the scenic beauty from this peak, particularly when dressed in autumn color.

 

Gunnison’s Orchard

This family-owned orchard is one of the oldest and most highly esteemed in New York state. It has been in operation since 1826! It is a “must do” stop when visiting the region in the fall. Whether you seek farm fresh apples, (they have numerous varieties!), cider, or their famous cider donuts, you will be thrilled. Check out their gift shop which features the works of local artisans and crafters. Their bakery now includes fresh, hot roasted nuts: cashews, pecans and almonds, as well as a seasonal selection of pies, breads and rolls. The pick your own apples option runs from mid-September through mid-October. The orchard is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. until early December.

 

Scenic Drives

 

It’s hard to not take a scenic drive in this region particularly during the fall. A few of my favorites during this time pass by a pond or lake for the double whammy of color reflection. Some suggestions are:

Route 74 between Schroon Lake and Ticonderoga. I prefer it coming east toward Ticonderoga for the expansive view as you descend Chilson Hill into the Champlain Valley, but either way is spectacular since you pass by both Paradox and Eagle lakes en route.

County Route 2 from Route 74 into the hamlet of Crown Point. This route takes you through Ironville, passing by Penfield Pond which can be gorgeous. In addition, migrating geese often flock on the green near the northern end of the pond at the Penfield Homestead Museum making a picture perfect scene with a beautiful backdrop.

Probably my third favorite is County Route 7 between Moriah Center and Elizabethtown. This route passes Lincoln Pond and though scenic anytime of year can be especially awesome in the fall.

 

Getting immersed in the color

Here are a few ideas to get you out of your vehicle, breathing the fresh air and walking among the colorful, crunching leaves.

An easy hike, or nature walk really, would be to stroll along the LaChute Riverwalk Trail. If you are more ambitious you could complete the entire trail, but there are incredibly scenic portions that can be easily accessed directly off Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga. There are even benches to sit, relax, and enjoy the view and falling water.

A step up, but still considered easy would be the trail to the Belfry Mountain fire tower. A mere 4 tenths of a mile on a log road will get you to the tower. The steepest/most difficult part of the trek would be climbing the steps up the tower. You certainly will want to do that to take in the 360 views. Find the trail head on Dalton Hill Road, just north of the hamlet of Witherbee.

A little more of a challenge, but still considered a moderate trail, is the Cheney Mountain Trail. This trail is about 1.5 miles round trip, but is recommended because it has three spurs that will take you to three individual overlooks permitting you to see up and down Lake Champlain for miles.

Find the trail head on Pilfershire Road, about 1.5 miles west off Route 9N and 22 north of Port Henry.

Our lodging and dining pages will also help you plan a spectacular fall visit.  

Alternatives to Indoor Dining in the COVID Age
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