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The Adirondack Coast.

I moved to the Adirondack Park more than 25 years ago, and after seeing the Park's Champlain country I knew almost immediately that it was the place I had been searching for. This very beautiful and tranquil valley--the "Adirondack Coast"--is a treasure, one that grows infinitely richer as you explore it. Through the combined efforts of numerous public and private sector groups, there are a growing number of ways to see and experience this stunning region--a landscape full of rolling hills and low mountains, undulating meadows and pastures, and the gleaming and vast waters of mighty Lake Champlain.

Varieties of Exploring

A paddler's trail has been established on the Lake and along its shores and islands. A bikeway courses through the nicely spaced communities and goes on to encircle the entire lake, connecting the Adirondack Coast with Vermont and Quebec. A series of interpretive bicycle loops branch off from the 350-mile long principal route, meandering through the rich and bountiful natural, cultural, agricultural, and historic resources of the townships of Moriah, Westport, Essex, Willsboro and Chesterfield. Clinton County offers its own possibilities for exploration.

A New Effort Emerges

A relatively new effort, Lake Champlain Walkways, is underway to explore the feasibility of connecting Adirondack Coast communities with a primarily off-road, countryside walking path. The walkway would connect as well with a similar pathway linking Vermont's Champlain Valley communities, via the four ferries that have long connected New York with Vermont. Loop walkways, off the principal route, would take walkers to mountain summits and hilltops and other special attractions like wildlife viewing areas.

Planners envision that launches will eventually cruise the Adirondack Coast, ferrying foot passengers--possibly with their bikes or boats--stopping at each coastal community, where tourists could disembark to explore local attractions, and then walk, paddle or bike back to board the launch once again.

If You Build It ...

Sustainable heritage tourism is alive and well--and growing--along the Adirondack Coast and will increasingly beckon adventure travelers. The encouragement of bicycling, boating, walking and hiking should help to keep roads and parking lots from being overcrowded. The existence of ferry and train access--there are nearby Amtrak stops in Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Westport and Port Kent--is also advantageous. Bus and mini-van service are potential options as well.

Conservationist readers are encouraged to visit and sample the Adirondack Coast's wares. Among many area attractions are the Iron Museum in Port Henry, here visitors can see how that town helped build a nation. Cruises are available on Lake Champlain with the Philomena D out of Westport; or hiking up Coon Mountain or to the rocky summits of the Adirondack Forest Preserve's Split Rock Tract offer great--and inexpensive--day outings. Essex--an entire village on the National Register of Historic Places--is a destination to itself and is among the quaintest and most historic villages in the United States. Sun hounds can relax on the beach at Willsboro's new Noblewood Park at the mouth of the Boquet River--and you can even paddle a canoe up this pristine and beautiful waterway. Ausable Chasm is just a short drive from Keeseville, where vistors can also walk an interpretive path through that village's historic district. For a wilder escape, bushwhacking into the wilds of the Split Rock Tract is always an option--or hike into the town of Ticonderoga's Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. Hiking trails there lead to a series of ponds that shine like jewels in a forest designated as Forever Wild.

Several Adirondack Coast communities have received generous grant monies from both state and federal sources to establish interpretive centers. In the near future they will be operating to locally serve and inform travelers, and tell different chapters of the story of this most interesting and enchanting coast of the Adirondacks.

Gary Randorf is an author and photographer residing in Essex County. His latest book, The Adirondacks: Wild Island Of Hope, was published in 2002.

If you go:

The Lake Champlain Visitor Center at the Crown Point Bridge serves as a clearinghouse for information on the Adirondack Coast, whether it be for accommodations, attractions and services, or for the recreational amenities described above. Telephone: (518)597-4648, or email lcvisit@capital.net. For more information about the Lake Champlain Bikeways Project, visit www.champlainbikeways.org. For regional info: www.lakechamplainregion.com.
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Author:Randorf, Gary
Publication:New York State Conservationist
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Words:710
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