The picturesque Lake Champlain area is a magical world to explore, whether you’re looking through a pair of binoculars or exploring in a kayak or canoe. Nestled on the border of Vermont and upstate New York, the Lake Champlain region was dubbed “glimmerglass country” by James Fenimore Cooper, author of Last of the Mohicans. This gorgeous waterway is home to thousands of migrating birds that travel the eastern corridor to and from Canada each year. This year, you can travel the 300 mile route of the Lake Champlain Birding Trail, exploring the walkways and natural vistas along the way—and taking in a charming part of New England..
The Lake Champlain Birding Trail is a highway-based trail that links together 88 bird-watching sites along the shores of the lake and upland areas. Every stop along the trail is marked with interpretive signs, and some stops include boardwalks, bird-viewing blinds, and viewing platforms. A network of volunteers keeps an eye on the species that visit the various sites around the lake, publishing up-to-date information on bird sightings and migrations.
You can explore the southern stretches of the trail by starting in Burlington, Vermont, a charming farm and college town on Interstate 89. With its old-fashioned clapboard houses, fresh fruit and vegetable markets, and specialty shops, Burlington is a great place to stroll around. Be sure to sample some Vermont delicacies like locally-made cheddar cheese or ice cream. You can arrange to take a boating cruise on the lake, where the kids can look for Champ, the Lake Champlain monster. Fishing tours are also popular.
At the southern end of the lake lies historic Fort Ticonderoga, a fort that played a pivotal role in the American Revolution and in the French and Indian War. This strategic site has been occupied for thousands of year. There is evidence that Native Americans have lived in this area since 8000 BC, more than 6,000 years before Samuel de Champlain explored and charted the region. You can take a tour of the fort, stroll through the King’s Garden, and watch a re-enactment of one of the fort’s great battles. The fort offers special children’s activities and events in July and August, and family programs all year long.
West of the lake, the charming town of Lake Placid has a great history in sports. Lake Placid was the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. With its amazing natural beauty and sporting facilities, this is a great place to play in any season. The nearby Adirondack Park offers more than 200 miles of trails, rushing rivers for white-water rafting, and coves and bays for canoeing, kayaking, boating, and fishing. Winter sports abound at nearby Whiteface, Algonquin, and Marcy Mountains. Take your pick from downhill skiing and ski jumping to luge, bobsledding, and ice skating. The town also has terrific dining, shopping, and family entertainment.
Farther north along the lake, you’ll find the yawning natural cavern of Ausable Chasm, a geologic wonder in the heart of a primeval forest. With natural stone walkways leading visitors down into the chasm, it’s no wonder that more than 10 million visitors have flocked here. You can hike to Rainbow Falls, view the Elephant’s head, see Column Rock, or explore Hyde’s Cave and Mystic Gorge. Guests enjoy rafting and inner tubing down the Ausable River, admiring views of the canyon up above. Don’t miss the chance to do the Rim Walk, taking in the views, or to pan for gemstones. This is a great way to get to know the Adirondack Mountains, an area known as the “Home of the High Peaks.”