There’s this magnificent slice of the Great Chazy (pronounced Shay-zee) River that I had never explored. This 4.8 mile stretch that traverses a unique range between Champlain New York and the mouth of the river at Lake Champlain’s King Bay winds its way through farmland, forests, and riverside marinas. The Chazy River is a stark contrast to the high cliffs and rocky coastline of Lake Champlain that I am accustomed to, but beautiful in its own way.
The put in spot in Champlain on River Rd is an old steep boat launch next to a gravel parking area and a line of picnic tables set up as a public park. We had left one of our cars at the Great Chazy boat launch at the mouth of the river and another we took to Champlain. On this day, my paddling partner and I had the park in Champlain to ourselves. We chose to leave our kayaks at home to take on the Great Chazy River on our stand up paddleboards for an extra unique paddle. Standing up along the river brings your line of sight much higher than the sitting position of a kayak. There was a stiff breeze rushing through the trees at our launch site that would later prove to us the difficulty of stand up paddleboarding in hard wind.
Our adventure was to travel down river in order to keep the current nudging us along to the mouth of the river. if we had chosen our Kayaks for this trip, that would have been true. On the stand up boards, our bodies acted as a sail with the wind blowing directly at us trying to push us back up river. At times this strong wind was almost too much to pass by, no matter how much we paddled. None the less, we managed through this with occasionally kneeling on our boards and paddling along the toughest stretches to reach the mouth of the river. We were both holding inside us a determination beyond our own physical ability to make it through no matter how much nature pushed us back.
on our path through rolling hills, wide open farmlands of corn, cows, and wildflowers, we both found ourselves ignoring the intensity of our paddle and becoming engrossed in the beauty of the northern Champlain Valley. At times the stiff breeze was a very distant part of the paddle with distractions of such memorable beauty around us. The journey down the Great Chazy River is certainly best enjoyed on a day with less direct wind. I will be doing this trip again on a calmer day.
Our struggle though the wind brought us to the mouth of the river 4.8miles from our launch site after three hours of paddling.We were guided through the last mile by a skittish Great Blue Heron who would land and take off every few minutes as we ventured through the riverside marina. In the end, silently, we both had achieved something beyond reaching the end of the paddle that made this physically challenging stand up paddle something that we will both hold on to for a lifetime.
How do you take this trip down the Great Chazy River? leave one car at the Great Chazy boat launch. From Interstate 87, take exit 41 (Miner Institute). Turn right on the Miner Farm Rd. At the road end turn left onto State Route 9. Continue on State Route 9 to State Route 9B (Lake Street) on right. Take the third right onto lake Shore Rd. The Great Chazy Boat launch is ahead on the left and clearly marked by a large brown sign.
Travel to the Samuel D Champlain park in Champlain: Leave the boat launch and turn right only Lake Shore Rd. At the end of the road take another right onto route 9B. Just over the bridge, turn left onto Mason rd. Continue on mason Rd to State Route 11. Turn left on 11. Just beyond the sign for “Champlain Industrial Park”, turn right onto Elm St. River Rd is just past the stop on Elm St. You’ll see the Samuel D Champlain Museum on your right.