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)

Layers
Westport State Boat Launch
1
Westport State Boat Launch
Recreation | Boat Launches and Fishing

The Westport state boat launch features a hard surface ramp for float-off and float-on launching with parking for 35 cars and trailers. It has designated wheelchair accessible parking spaces, as well as an accessible privy and an accessible path…

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Furnace Point
2
Furnace Point
Heritage Areas and Sites | Historic Districts and Sites

This was the location of the Sisco Blast Furnace, which produced pig iron, bars of pure iron used in manufacturing. This area is now owned and operated as a summer resort called Normandie Beach Club. It specializes in water sports. A substantial…

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Rock Harbor
3
Rock Harbor
Transportation and Travel Routes | By Water

Rock Harbor is one of the oldest ferry sites to Vermont. James Ring, an English Master Sailor, ran the first ferry here for Platt Rogers, established in 1790. Rock Harbor is a Historic Landing. Moses Felt operated a small sawmill here and cut…

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Steam Mill Point
4
Steam Mill Point
Heritage Areas and Sites | Historic Districts and Sites

This is the location of the grounding and sinking of the Champlain II, a passenger steamer ferry. The boat went aground under Captain John Eldredge, who was under the influence of morphine at the time to treat his gout. All of the…

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Barn Rock Harbor
5
Barn Rock Harbor
Transportation and Travel Routes | By Water

Barn Rock Harbor only lacks wave protection from the south, and is a favorite spot for power boaters. The immense rock face at the entrance is the harbor’s name sake. Daredevils will sometimes jump from the 75-foot cliff. This is also the site of…

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The Palisades of Lake Champlain
6
The Palisades of Lake Champlain
Natural Areas | Geologic Feature

The Palisades of Lake Champlain is a visually striking spot, and for over 125 years, postcards and commercial photographs have captured its beauty. In spring, several of the pocket wetlands perched on the rugged top spill streams of water over…

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Snake Den Harbor
7
Snake Den Harbor
Transportation and Travel Routes | By Water

This small harbor with a pebble beach is an ideal lunch stopping spot. The name is derived from the local and abundant inhabitants, eastern rattlesnakes, also known as the timber rattlesnake.

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Ore Bed Harbor
8
Ore Bed Harbor
Heritage Areas and Sites | Historic Districts and Sites

In September of 1868, chemist and mineralogist Professor Herring described Split Rock Mountain as containing “the largest deposit of Magnetic Ore in the State of New York, and as yet I have seen none to equal it in the United States." The altered…

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Split Rock Wild Forest Trails
9
Split Rock Wild Forest Trails
Transportation and Travel Routes | Routes and Trails

The 3,700-acre Split Rock Wild Forest is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Located in the eastern foothills of the Adirondack Mountains along the shore of Lake Champlain, it comprises the largest tract of undeveloped Lake Champlain…

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Grog Harbor
Transportation and Travel Routes | By Water

This is a Historic Landing site that was used for cross-lake transportation by early travelers from the early settlement in 1765 by William Gilliland. In fact, it's believed to be one of the earliest ferry points on the lake north of Crown Point.…

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Split Rock Lighthouse
11
Split Rock Lighthouse
Heritage Areas and Sites | Historic Districts and Sites

The original cone-shaped, 30-foot tower of brick was not properly sited or high enough to properly serve mariners. It was originally built in 1838 by Peter Comstock. The rebuilt octagonal tower dates from 1867 and was made of blue limestone by…

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Split Rock
12
Split Rock
Natural Areas | Geologic Feature

This is a Historic Landing. Split Rock marks the northern end of “The Narrows,” and both Native Americans and early Europeans used this as a boundary marker. This spot also marked the boundary between the Mohawk and Algonquin tribes. The Treaty…

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Marion Fraser Beggs Memorial Park, Essex
13
Marion Fraser Beggs Memorial Park, Essex
Heritage Areas and Sites | Historic Districts and Sites

Marion Fraser Beggs Memorial Park, or Beggs Park for short, sits on the site of a horseshoe nail factory and a window sash factory, both of which burned in the early 1900s. The frequent loading and unloading of canal boats made this a busy and…

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the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Gretel Schueller

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Trip Plan Details

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In This Trip Plan

1 Westport State Boat Launch
2 Furnace Point
3 Rock Harbor
4 Steam Mill Point
5 Barn Rock Harbor
6 The Palisades of Lake Champlain
7 Snake Den Harbor
8 Ore Bed Harbor
9 Split Rock Wild Forest Trails
10 Grog Harbor
11 Split Rock Lighthouse
12 Split Rock
13 Marion Fraser Beggs Memorial Park, Essex