Cycling Lake Champlain (With an Empire State of Mind)

A cyclist rides along a road at dawn with trees silhouetted in the background

“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”

-Eddy Merckx

One of my earliest childhood memories involved cycling. My “bike” may have been made out of plastic, had four wheels, and been molded into the shape of a giant pink sneaker, but it had pedals, the perfect outlet for letting out some energy and finding my own form of mischief.

Whenever I reflect back on my life, I marvel at how many memories involve a bicycle: getting taught to ride as a child (with a long learning curve), playing bike-tag with the kids in the neighborhood, and biking through town to get ice cream and visit playgrounds with friends. Even as an adult, I have made some of my dearest friends and experienced my most cherished memories while on a bicycle. But through years of being asked why I love cycling so much, the same answer has served as my top reason: it is my absolute favorite way to explore the world.

And now, thanks to nearly four years of proposals, financing, planning, and building, the Empire State Trail provides a way to explore the abundance of beauty throughout New York state, including our beloved Lake Champlain Region.

A zoomed-in photo of a bike traveling down a road

A trail is born

Geared towards hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers, and both road and gravel cyclists, the 750-mile multi-use Empire State Trail was first proposed by New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo in January 2017, reaching its completion in December 2020. The trail consists of both paved and gravel roads and is the longest trail of its kind in the nation, touching Manhattan, Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, the Lake Champlain Valley, and Rouses Point at the Canadian border.

But the fun doesn’t stop there on the Empire State Trail. The route also links to other hiking and cycling trails around the region, including the Appalachian Trail, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, the Genesee Valley Greenway, the Catskills, and—you guessed it—the Adirondacks.

A cyclist rides past a wooden barn

A legendary ride through Lake Champlain

The Lake Champlain portion of the Empire State Trail is broken into numerous sections along a 99-mile route, extending from Ticonderoga to Rouses Point:

This entirely on-road section will delight cyclists with gorgeous views of the Adirondack Mountains, rural Essex County, and Lake Champlain. 

Note: cyclists will be riding next to vehicle traffic along this route, and this section of the trail is recommended for cyclists with experience riding comfortably on trafficked roads.

A cyclist rides down the road with mountains in the background

Ride for a day or stay and play—the choice is yours!

The Empire State Trail is perfect for individualizing your visit to the Lake Champlain Region. The paved trail presents stunning views along an easily navigated out-and-back course along State Routes 9N and 22, ranging anywhere from a lap around the parking lot to completing a full out-and-back double-century. Ride your miles all at once, or pack a bag to go on a bike tour, complete with a stay at any one of our accommodations. With so many shops, restaurants, and attractions to explore in the area including museums, there are endless reasons to extend your stay! The Empire State Trail is home to a number of bike-friendly lodging options to rest and recover between miles. 

A cyclist rides past a field


So bring your trusty two-wheeled steed and If you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse of Champ, Lake Champlain’s favorite local monster!

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