Written by Guest Blogger Tonya Whitford Condon, Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce
The LaChute River is a fun, family-friendly paddle in the scenic town of Ticonderoga, NY. Having learned about this trip from a friend who paddled it a couple years ago, I decided it sounded like a nice adventure/challenge to see if I could make it all the way from the boat launch at the lower LaChute Falls to Lake Champlain. There is plenty of parking and easy access to a sandy launch.
The current, for being just below the falls, was slow and easy this August day, but springtime may be a different matter. Not long after taking off, I crossed under the pedestrian access only Kissing Bridge. On this stretch of the river, you are in town, so not wilderness quiet, but not too noisy. I was delighted right away, being an avid wildlife and nature photographer, to encounter a juvenile Great Blue Heron on shore. He wasn’t very shy, so I was able to take many great photos. He even seemed quite curious about me.
On the next stretch of river, it becomes woodier. I passed under two vehicle bridges, which are pretty neat to see from below, a real different perspective. The trees are mostly cottonwoods, willows and silver maples. Many trees have fallen into the river, providing great habitat for wildlife like turtles. In fact, I saw dozens of the Common Map Turtle, which I had never seen before, basking on the logs. They are mostly found here in the Champlain Valley. I did also see a few Painted Turtles as well.
The river narrows at this point and becomes more of a corridor, but wide enough for small motor boats and kayaks. There are limited opportunities to come ashore at this point for comfort breaks, but I managed to find a spot and take a rest. Beware: mucky shoreline may claim your water shoes! This marshy landing was surrounded by beautiful wild red cardinal flowers, a birders paradise too, especially early in the morning.
The next section of river changes greatly. I entered a wide channel, lined with tall cattails and marsh grasses. The water is now the more murky Lake Champlain color. I wondered what could be swimming under my boat. Perhaps very large creatures like Champ? In front of me was the railroad bridge that I had seen so many times before driving on Route 22. As I passed underneath, a much larger bass boat was anchored in the channel. He had come in from Lake Champlain scouting prime locations for an upcoming fishing tournament.
Entering what some call Ti Marsh, where the LaChute flows into Lake Champlain, I saw Mount Defiance on my right and a large beaver lodge on my left. I was not alone here. Two more paddlers were making their way in from Lake Champlain to try their luck at some fishing. After getting some direction from them as to which channel I should take through the marsh grasses to reach Fort Ticonderoga, I had finally made it! Fort Ticonderoga could be seen to my left. I paddled a little ways into Lake Champlain, but decided to turn around, as my little, but sturdy inflatable kayak seemed way too small for all this open water. Yes, I was still thinking Champ! Ha, ha!
I took my time on the return trip, as I was still very excited to photograph so many map turtles. I also realized at this point that I definitely should have applied another coat of sunscreen sooner. Arriving back at the boat launch, two more paddlers with kayaks were just pulling in to park. More adventurers for the LaChute!
About the paddle
- Length about 4 miles round trip, but can shorten or extend to suit your needs by turning around or paddling further into Lake Champlain
- Time about 2+ hours, especially with all the photo ops
- This paddle is suitable for all abilities, and would be a good activity for familieswith children. Always wear a life jacket.
For more information about kayaking the LaChute River, contact the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce website.