Valcour Island Paddle/Camping, August 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot too many days of summer left here in Northern Vermont, and I hadn’t been hiking, biking, or otherwise carousing with my friend John. He suggested a paddle/camping trip. I said yes and picked Valcour Island, just off the New York side of Lake Champlain.

With John driving up from Nash-Vegas, NH, we got a mid-day start, putting in just opposite Sand Bar State Park on the Vermont side. With our meandering course bouncing to hit a few points, we had about OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa 10-mile paddle with a couple long crossings. (Hey, Lake Champlain was officially one of the Great Lakes for 18 days back in March 1998.) The conditions on Champlain made for some pretty easy paddling on the way out, fairly calm, with just tiny wind waves.

We stopped to stretch the legs at the bike ferry on the causeway (the narrow causeway let’s you pedal with the lake on both sides for a couple of miles—and the free bike ferry connects the 50’ opening). We took a second stretch with a guerrilla stop on a rocky stretch of Providence Island.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing one of the last weekends of summer, and gorgeous at that, the crackheads were out in their motorboats (OK, not everyone in a motor boat was obnoxious, but there were a few bad apples). In fact, arriving at Valcour, we spent a couple of hours hiking around looking for an empty campsite. Ironically we wound up almost right where we landed on a wee rocky peninsula at Smugglers Cove. There was a tent pitched at the site, and we’d originally moved on, but (see “crackhead” reference above) some boaters said they had seen no one there for a day-plus and the tent was empty. We decided it was ours. It was an excellent site to hang out on a very nice island.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKayak camping is a different than backpacking with the stuff that can be carried! We settled in for some salmon cooked over the fire, and some arugula/avocado/onion salad. Well, minus most of the avocado and onion since moments before serving I dropped it on the ground where it was instantly covered in grit. The night was surprisingly mosquito-free, and we enjoyed the little campfire, Malbec, and banter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMorning’s cool temps were pushed aside by some oatmeal and coffee. Just about then, the glassy calm gave way to a steady and fairly stiff wind from the Southeast. Ah, on the paddle back we’d be fighting headwinds to crosswinds most of the way. There was a good deal of chop and some minor whitecaps—all meaning the paddle back was a lot less leisurely. One of the Canadians apparently enjoying a morning mimosa on a lovely sailboat in a calm cove asked, “did you guys just paddle across THAT?” It wasn’t that bad, but it was tiring.

This is one to be repeated…but maybe in the fall when most of the boaters have called it a season.

Happy trails!


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2 Responses to Valcour Island Paddle/Camping, August 2013

  1. Sailing Dad says:

    We are heading to Valcour next weekend. What’s the scoop on camping, do you need a permit, and do you have to stay in the designated sites?

    • Mike Rogers says:

      Good question! Alas, you won’t get the definitive answer here. Everything I’ve read indicates that you must camp in designated campsite only, and that a permit is required, but the site are first-come, first-served. I understand that permits are obtained from a ranger who walks around the island. We saw none. The groups near us couldn’t answer, either. Valcour Island is in NY, and I suppose to get the definitive answer you’ll have to call NY DEC. Please let me know if you learn anything!

      BTW, the Western side of the island was a zoo of boats. The Eastern side quieter. If you’re going on the weekend, you’ll want to get there as early as you can on Friday.

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