Lake Champlain

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The once sixth great lake in the U.S., the historic waters of Lake Champlain stretch 120 miles north to south with almost 600 miles of pristine shoreline. Surpassed only by the Great Lakes in size, Lake Champlain features 435 square miles of surface area carving through the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Fast Facts

  • In 1609, on behalf of France, Samuel de Champlain first sailed the lake now bearing his name.
  • The first U.S. Naval battle was fought off Valcour Island, just south of Plattsburgh during the Revolutionary War, led by Benedict Arnold.
  • With a maximum depth of 400 feet, Lake Champlain features more than 80 species of warm and cold-water fish.
  • Lake Champlain was named one of the “25 Hottest Fishing Spots in the U.S.” by Field & Stream in 2005.

Lake Champlain

The historic waters of Lake Champlain stretch 120 miles north to south along New York and Vermont, with almost 600 miles of pristine shoreline and 435 square miles of surface area carving through the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, making it one of the largest lake in the U.S.

Sail our open waters. Visit historic lighthouses. Dive century-old shipwrecks. Experience some of the East’s best inland windsurfing. Fish one of North America’s most renowned fisheries. Or just sit on one of our many beaches and take in the spectacular mountain views of New York and Vermont.

The Legend of Champ

When visitors explore Lake Champlain’s expansive waters, they hope to catch a glimpse of our very own sea monster.

Some historians place the first sighting of the creature back in 1609 by Samuel de Champlain himself. Both the Abenaki and Iroquois tribes, living nearby, told their own legends of a creature in the lake – Tatoskok. Today, it is affectionately known as Champ.

The "Mansi Photograph", taken in 1977, is perhaps the most convincing piece of evidence swaying visitors and locals to believe in Champ’s existence. While vacationing on Lake Champlain, Sandra Mansi snapped a picture of a long necked creature emerging from the water.

Intrigued? Check out more information about the legend of Champ and the annual festival, Champ Day, here.

War of 1812, Battle of Plattsburgh

In September of 1814, fifteen thousand British regulars fresh from victories in the Napoleonic Wars invaded New York from Canada, along with a small fleet of Royal Navy ships on Lake Champlain. Their intent was to reach New York City and divide our infant nation in two.

A fierce battle ensued on land and water, devastating both sides. A dying wind left the British unable to maneuver giving the Americans the advantage. Within three hours the British colors were struck and their commander, Captain Downie, lay dead. Seeing his fleet defeated, General Prevost withdrew his troops back to Canada.

The totally unexpected American victory thwarted the British plans to control Lake Champlain and led to the signing of the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812 on Christmas Eve, 1814.

Hiking Locations

Hiking in the Adirondacks is like running water - it’s bound to happen. Many of these opportunities along Lake Champlain offer natural sand beaches, forested walking/hiking trails, or wildlife habitats to add as part of your hike? Check out these Lake Champlain hiking locations!


Lake Champlain is undeniably one of the best fisheries on the continent. As one of the largest lakes in the U.S., Lake Champlain stretches 120 miles north to south with almost 600 miles of shoreline dotted by boat launches and a maximum depth of 400 feet. Its 435 square miles of surface area carve through the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont offering spectacular views and unprecedented fishing. Whether it’s just for fun or you’re looking to enter a tournament, Lake Champlain is the ideal place for many kinds of fishing year-round.

Boating & Water Sports

With such a huge lake at our doorstep and several other rivers and lakes in the region, it’s no wonder boating and watersports make up a huge part of the lifestyle on Lake Champlain. Each season brings new adventures to explore on our lake. From sailing to paddlingice fishing to swimming, windsurfing to snowkiting Lake Champlain is the perfect location for so many boating and water sport options.

Sightseeing Opportunities

Whether you’re looking to dive into our rich history, or just pass by a monument or lighthouse, the sightseeing opportunities along Lake Champlain are as vast as the lake itself. While history is hard to avoid, there are plenty of sightseeing options that don’t blast you two or three hundred years back. Check out our full list of sights to see on Lake Champlain here.


The beaches along the shores of Lake Champlain boast amazing views, kid’s activities, camping, outdoor grills, and paddling opportunities and rentals. Plattsburgh City Beach is notably one of the largest freshwater beaches in America. Come for a quick swim on a hot day or bring the whole family for a full day of relaxation and fun.


The Adirondack Coast’s parks promise the very best of recreation and relaxation – whether you want to spend the day hiking  around the Adirondack Mountains or a few hours kicking back in an Adirondack Chair on Lake Champlain. Our parks offer picnic areas, fishingcampingnature trailspaddlingboating, and snowshoeing in the winter. Many of our parks are connected to sandy beaches with unparalleled swimming opportunities, doubling the fun and making it easy for families.

A month of official greatness

In 1998, Lake Champlain actually became a Great Lake when a Vermont senator attached a few words to a bill pending in congress stating, “The term ‘Great Lakes’ includes Lake Champlain.” With President Clinton’s signature, Lake Champlain became a Great Lake – for one month. With pressure from the Great Lakes region over potential funding issues, the designation was reversed just 4 weeks later.

But for water lovers, Lake Champlain is truly a great lake, offering year round recreation.

Sail our open waters. Visit historic lighthouses. Dive century-old shipwrecks. Experience some of the East’s best inland windsurfing. Fish one of North America’s most renowned fisheries. Or just sit on one of our many beaches and take in the spectacular mountain views.

> See it on a map

A Division of the North Country Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 310 |  7061 Route 9 | Plattsburgh, NY 12901 USA