Blueway Trail: Westport (Split Rock) to Essex
It is recommended that this segment be completed south to north. This segment explores the beginning of the section of the lake known as “The Narrows,” justly-named as it is the narrowest part of the lake. The trail takes paddlers through the many ins and outs of the harbors and points along this part of shoreline. Many of these spots have individual histories and stories. This route passes the renowned Palisades of Lake Champlain, a geological masterpiece of sheer cliffs ornamented with waterfalls and wildlife. Paddlers will also pass Split Rock, a historical landmark used to establish territory boundaries by Native Americans, and later by Europeans. This segment ends in the town of Essex, a popular summer tourist destination.
Launch Sites: Westport NY Boat Launch; Beggs Park
Insider Tip from Paddlers Cathy Frank & Margaret Holden: "Hands down, this is the most spectacular section of shoreline on Lake Champlain. Save it for a calm sunny day so you can stop and cherish each natural wonder. This is also the steep and deep part of Lake Champlain. The depth plunges from 200 feet near shore to 400 feet farther out. And the cliffs rise to 1,000 feet."
Other Notes: This segment is best in calm weather. Do not attempt this segment if north/northwest or south/southwest winds are moderate to strong, or if storms are predicted. The narrow part of the lake near Split Rock funnels winds and waves to a higher pitch, and there is only limited shore access in case of emergency. The shoreline along this segment is the natural habitat of the timber rattlesnake, and its bite is a serious medical emergency although rarely fatal.
Bug spray is useful for this segment.
Paddling Distance: 14.5 miles (23.3 kilometers)