With over three dozen ponds, three rivers and countless streams, brooks, and creeks, it's hard to ignore the water connection within the region. Water is a major element and attraction here. The big lake dominates the region. At 120 miles long and 12 miles across at the widest point, Lake Champlain is more than impressive. It’s vast and alluring. You want to connect with this fascinating body of water; get ON, IN or even UNDER the water to explore its entire personality and hidden treasures.
Here are some ways to do just that.
If you happen to be towing or carting your own vessel you have no problem whatsoever. There are numerous boat launches throughout the region; most are New York State launch sites and free to use! Some private marinas have launches too, and there you could rent a slip to use during your visit, like Indian Bay Marina on beautiful Willsboro Bay. Don’t hesitate to bring the boat.
Cartop vessels, such as canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards, have even greater access to getting out on the water. Many waterfront amenities permit easy access in shallower depths and some, like Bulwagga Bay Campground and Noblewood Park, even rent equipment if you didn’t come prepared. Many marinas along the waterfront, like Westport Marina, will rent you a boat with, or without, the power of a motor as well.
If you prefer to sit back and relax while on the water and let someone else "do the driving" that’s possible too. SAIL Adirondacks will provide you with a variety of experiences from 1-2 hours sailing excursions, to sunset cruises. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the breathtaking views of both the Adirondack Mountains to the west, and Vermont’s Green Mountains to the east.
If you prefer to be a bit more hands-on, the Captain will be happy to provide you with a “learn to sail” educational opportunity!
At Fort Ticonderoga, you also can expand your knowledge of the lake and its history, as well as enjoy a cruise, by hopping aboard the Carillon. Onboard, a member of Fort Ticonderoga’s professional staff will narrate and fill you in on the significant military history of the lake, particularly at this extraordinary location. Sonar readings will spot and show historic shipwrecks and key historic features. A selection of beverages and snacks are available for purchase on board.
A simple way to experience what it’s like out on the water and go for a boat ride would be to hop aboard a ferry; walk on, drive on, or pedal on. Ferries have been providing an essential service to this region for centuries, helping people get across the lake. Covid did limit options during 2020, but generally three are available in this region. Check before making plans. Port Kent to Burlington, Vermont is about a one hour cruise that will take you across the widest part of the lake. Its operation is designed for the visitor experience. Unfortunately, it is not running in 2021. Essex to Charlotte, Vermont is about a 30 minute option and the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry, an historic cable ferry connecting Ticonderoga with Shoreham, Vermont gets you out briefly; the ride is under 10 minutes.
Hot summer days may have you longing for a swim, and several public beach options are available. You have numerous choices both on Lake Champlain, Lake George, or in one of the region’s many ponds. Pack the cooler, grab the beach towels and sunscreen, and go.
A lake this vast with centuries of human interaction holds many stories, particularly at its bottom. Over 300 discovered shipwrecks lie in its depths. These are protected by both the states of New York and Vermont, but some are accessible to divers for public access. A detailed brochure is available from either the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation or the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which manages the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation.
One discovered shipwreck, the Champlain II, lies close to the shore north of Westport. It ran aground in 1875. Remember these precious historic resources are strictly protected; view only and take nothing but pictures. This history is irreplaceable and future generations of divers want to be able to enjoy them too.
Getting a good view
Maybe you simply prefer to watch water in action. Spring is an ideal time to check out the region's many waterfalls, but they will be there to entertain you regardless of the season. Two great places to view the action are the LaChute River Walk Trail and Ausable Chasm. The LaChute River is a powerful one. In fact, it has been generating power for human use for centuries. It connects Lake George with Lake Champlain and has the same vertical drop as Niagara Falls, but spread out over 3+ miles. The trail, accessed easily from Ticonderoga's downtown area, offers benches along the way for you to sit, relax, and get hypnotized by the river's action. Waterfalls can be mesmerizing.
Ausable Chasm has been drawing visitors for over 100 years. They are open year round and each season is a new experience. This incredible river gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks, offers miles of trails to view its phenomenal personality, but also a simple waterfall walk that will provide you with great views of the major falls.
Whatever reason you are drawn to water, you will find fulfillment here in the Lake Champlain Region!