Saturday, August 19, 2023

Destination: Valcour Island

valcour island

The Explorer’s Mike Lynch and Jak Krouse were on the water in June, paddling to the 970-acre Valcour Island on Lake Champlain, south of Plattsburgh.

The island with its historic lighthouse and scenic cliffs has 29 first-come, first-served campsites, and plenty of interesting diversions. It was here in 1776 the Benedict Arnold (before the “unpleasantness”) savers the day for the colonists by delaying a British advance down the lake.

Valcour has a 7.5 mile hiking trail and quite a rich history of development and proposed development, and a good summation is at

Among the more curious notations is that of the Dawn Valcour Agricultural and Horticultural Association, a short-lived utopian community in 1874 based on the concepts of spiritualism and free love. It succumbed to financial problems and scant membership — the former, it would seem, being a downer to spiritualism, the latter to free love.

“Paddling to the island is less common because Lake Champlain is such a large and challenging waterbody for small crafts. But paddling is definitely doable, especially in August when the waters are warm,” Mike wrote. “If you’ve got the proper equipment for paddling big lakes, I recommend visiting the island. But don’t take the trip lightly. Lake Champlain can be extremely challenging for paddlers due to its large size.”

Photo at top: Scenic shoreline of Valcour Island. Photo by Mike Lynch

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Tim Rowland is a humor columnist for Herald-Mail Media in Hagerstown, Md., and a New York Times bestselling author. His books include High Peaks; A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene and Strange and Unusual Stories of New York City. He has climbed the 46 high peaks, is an avid bicyclist, and trout tremble with fear when they see his approaching shadow. He and his wife Beth are residents of Jay, N.Y.

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