What I did this weekend on the Adirondack Coast take two…… Paddle some more. Crab Island.

Floating gently on lake Champlain about eleven hours prior, my kayak partner and I had decided to take a different approach  to our kayak trip. We decided to paddle from Plattsburgh to Peru without paddling back. We left one car at the Peru Boat launch on Route 9 and put in at the Plattsburgh Boat basin on Dock street in the City.

Blue Heron taking off from the Plattsburgh boat basin.
Blue Heron taking off from the Plattsburgh boat basin.

Our journey starts very similar to our venture the evening before. Clear sky, calm water, and wind “light and variable” according to NOAA. We began with a gentle paddle between the many yachts anchored in the harbor. beyond the breakwater we encountered very mild chop out of Plattsburgh bay. There was little activity at this early hour, but a few were out on their yachts getting prepared for an outing and there was the occasional “early bird” fisherman out searching for a monster. Beyond the breakwater we had the bay to ourselves all the way to Crab Island.

Plattsburgh Boat Basin

Crab Island plays a very important role in the history of Plattsburgh, Lake Champlain, and ultimately the entire United States. The Island is much smaller than both Valcour and Schuyler Islands, but huge on history. All three islands played a major role in the United States success during the war of 1812. This small 40 +/- acre island has been a farm, a hospital, a battleground, and a graveyard. Today it is a state park maintained by a few volunteers who keep the grounds surrounding the 100′ flagpole, hiking trails, and the 50′ granite obelisk in honor of the fallen soldiers. Somewhere on this island is a mass grave of an assumed 150 fallen soldiers of the Battle of Plattsburgh and the Battle of Lake Champlain which were both fought on September 11, 1814. Landing on the shores one can only imagine what it was like to be there on that day in 1814 when the waters we just paddled were filled with battleships and gunboats in a full-on war.

Crab Island in the distance

We landed at the base of the flagpole and strolled along the coast and up to the many plaques in honor of that battle. Keep in mind, venturing too far away from the shore can prove painful. Crab island, like the inner working of both Schuyler and Valcour is covered in Poison Ivy. If you are easily affected by Poison Ivy, maybe a stroll to the plaques is best left undone. The Poison Ivy is easy to spot near the shore through the rocks, but in the high wildflowers, you might just find yourself in an itchy situation.

Watch your step. Poison Ivy has taken hold of Crab Island.
Flag Pole on Crab Island

Crab Island is loaded with wildflowers of all kinds. The kind of natural garden that many could only wish they had in their own back yard. I’m not an expert on flowers, but I know how to enjoy them.  Morning glory, Indian paintbrush, and coastal roses are the only three I could name among the many varieties all blloming at once.

After an After an informative and beautiful stroll along Crab Island, we hopped back in our kayaks and made our way to Peru dock. Accessing both Valcour Island and Crab Island is quickest from Peru dock, but I always enjoy a longer paddle if time allows. It seemed that during our visit to Crab Island, Lake Champlain had come alive with activity. The sailboats had put up their sails, motor boats were cruising by, and the jet skis were skimming the top of the water. Not only were the boaters coming alive with activity, but a huge flock of Cormorants were filling up the bay between the coast of Peru and Valcour Island.

Cormorants near Valcour Island
Crab Island behind us

Our adventure was coming to a close as the clock was passing 11:00 am. The Peru boat launch was buzzing with activity. There was a traffic jam of boaters 6+ deep and growing waiting in line for their turn to get to the launch. Nobody was pulling out of the water this early but us early morning kayakers. Another magnificent Lake Champlain paddle behind us and an equally magnificent visit to Crab Island. As with all of my paddle trips, I reccoment this one for sure. Just remember to watch for Poison Ivy and wear your sun block! Always check with NOAA before venturing out on Lake Champlain. I can’t stress more how unforgiving this large body of water can be in the event of wind shifts or storms.

To take this trip you’ll need to plan ahead to leave one car at the Peru boat launch about six miles south of the Plattsburgh Boat Basin. The boat basin is located on Dock Street in the City of Plattsburgh with plenty of parking. Of course you can always do the trip in reverse with intentions of stopping by the Naked Turtle restaurant and bar at the boat basin as a great spot to kick back and re-live the highlights of your trip or near the Peru launch a visit to Dana’s Rusty Anchor for their incredible lobster pie.


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