I had the opportunity to make several road trips on the American side in thestate of New-York and also in Vermont. This is how I came up with the idea of putting together a sample itinerary, filled with must-sees!
East American Road Trip
Crossing the Canadian border
Indeed, I lived for about ten years, less than a kilometer away from a rural customs office, between Quebec and New-York State. Surrounded by apple trees and a maple grove is the customs office in Covey Hill, Havelock, Quebec. We used to cross it regularly, especially to go and fill up with gas. Even today, the price of gasoline is cheaper in the United States (CA$5 per gallon of 3.78 litres, or CA$1.30 per liter in March 2022 compared to CA$1.75 in Montreal).
Anecdote: our house was itself the old border post before the construction of the new building at the top of the hill. It even happened that people came to our house to declare their purchases!
Getting to New York State
The American counterpart of the Covey Hill post is called Mooers Forks, New York. That’s where the road trip on the American East starts.
Well, not quite if you are coming from the Montreal area, because it means you first have to cross half the garden of Quebec, which are the black lands of the southwest. St-Urbain, Ste-Clotilde and Sherrington for example.
Take route 209 from Ste-Martine, then south on 203 from St-Chrysostome to the customs.
The Covey Hill station is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. I recommend it if you want to avoid the crowds in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle either way, during the construction vacations or the Labour Day weekend.
You can also stop by after 4:00 p.m. on your way back from New YorkState, but be sure to report as directed at the next open station. At the bottom of the hill, you must turn right, towards the customs of Hemmingford.
A well-concealed police car often waits for those who decide to go straight ahead. Who wants to end a road trip in the USA this way?
New York State
The itinerary for this road trip of a few days in the north of New York State goes up to Lake George, with well known highlights, but also small secrets.
Some will choose to return to Canada afterwards, but I suggest that you continue with a trip to Vermont.
Just 30 minutes from the border through small roads (10 & 11), Chazy Lake and its beach are nestled in the foothills of the Lyon, Johnson and Ellenburg mountains in New York State.
Mostly locals can be found there. The water is clear and clean, and lifeguards are on site between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. You can bring your own kayak or canoe. Perfect for avoiding the crowds at Plattsburgh beaches.
The latter, on the other hand, seems to have had its moment of glory centered on shopping in the 80s when the American dollar had the same value as ours. Today, we go there more for its airport which allows us to take discounted flights to Uncle Sam’s country. I won’t include Plattsburgh in this road trip.
A ten-minute drive from Chazy Lake, the small town of Dannemora, New York has everything you need to fill your picnic basket unless you stopped at B’s Quick stop on the way.
Outdoor activities in the Adirondacks
The Adirondack Mountains in New York State are a huge playground. They are full of outdoor activities that can be done in all seasons.
For example, Mount Titus in Malone is a family ski center with about 50 trails less than two hours drive from Montreal.
There are 46 mountain peaks, six of which offer breathtaking views. You’ve probably heard of the highest point at 1,629 m, Mont Marcy. Did you know that we nickname hikers who have climbed each of these peaks “46ers”?
The Adirondack forest is also dotted with lakes, rivers and streams. So many opportunities to indulge in water activities, excursions, and swimming.
For a list of hiking opportunities of various levels in New York State, it’s here .
From Chazy Lake, head to Route 9 along Lake Champlain. The trip will be enhanced by the view on the water, its islands and its rest stops. Allow less than an hour for the trip to Ausable Chasm if you don’t stop.
Ausable Chasm has been around for ages (1870) and is still interesting to discover. It is known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Its gorges are magnificent and it remains a must for this road trip.
You can visit it by rafting, on foot (with a beautiful footbridge), by via ferrata for the most intrepid, or on tubes. Finally, you can spend the night in a tent or a cabin.
Then take highway 87. It’s scenic, well maintained and will get you to Lake George in 90 minutes unless you want to branch off to Lake Placid. After all, a road trip is about getting around and discovering, right?
Look at the tops of the trees along this highway. I sometimes saw raptors there, including the bald eagle, an American symbol.
The site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the Lake Placid region will host the 2023 World University Games. This means that its infrastructure has been updated. In fact, they are very busy.
There is a museum, and winter and summer sports enthusiasts enjoy cross-country skiing, skating, bobsledding, and hiking at Mount Van Hoevenberg and Mount Whiteface. There are trails for everyone: for sportsmen, families and beginners. In the center town there is a well-marked trail of about 4 km that circles Mirror Lake.
Finally, if you like bird’s eye views, try the gondola tour or discover the one that ski jumpers have from the top of their ramp. There is indeed a glass elevator that takes you to the top of the starting platform.
High Falls George
Would you prefer a short, spectacular 30-minute walk with your stroller? It’s over here in High Falls George.
Still in New YorkState, here’s what I like about it:
- 4 waterfalls in the heart of a forest of large pines,
- walkways over the falls,
- pots of giants.
A popular place for many Quebecers, only three hours from Montreal, the village of Lake George is located at the southern tip of the lake. It is the final destination of many road trips for vacationers.
In the heart of the village, Shepard Park is a regular venue for concerts and exhibits, as well as a family beach. The walk along the lakefront allows for breaks in the iconic Adirondack chairs, which were created in this part of New York State.
This was the scene of an epic battle between the French and the Natives against the British. The famous novel and film: “The Last of the Mohicans” depict the historical drama.
Further south in the town of Queensbury is “The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom”, a great Six Flags amusement park in the Lake George area.
Finally, don’t forget to visit Martha’s Ice cream whose products and flavour menu can’t be beat. The business ranks among the top 10 creameries in the United States.
Lodging in Lake George
Of the 170 islands in Lake George, 148 belong to New York State. You can camp there with a reservation. From small, intimate islands for two tents, to larger ones that hold up to 60 tents, the choice is yours. The payment is listed as “government service-camping”, so there is little chance that it will be considered in the travel category.
Two Marriott hotels are nearby.
- Courtyard Lake George: Category 6 from 50,000 points per night.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Queensbury Glens Falls/ Lake George Area: Category 4, starting at 25,000 points per night and including breakfast. It is located about 15 km south of downtown Lake George.
Finally, the supply of cottage rentals and Airbnb in this region is generous. Points can be applied against spending like those on the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® or the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.
Itinerary to follow
The most direct route from Lake George to Burlington, Vermont is less than two and a half hours. However, we suggest you take the 9N which runs along the western shore of the lake, still in the state of New York.
You’ll come across Fort Ticonderoga, which offers a variety of programming: corn maze, king’s gardens, cruises, battle reenactments, etc.
Route 185 will then take you over the Lake Champlain Bridge and into Vermont . You are now on route 17.
American covered bridges
Do a small search with Google map and write: “Covered bridges in Vermont“. You’ll see about 20 of them in the Burlington area. This is one of the State’s signatures. Here is also a link that mentions some of them.
And why not prepare a small itinerary to visit them? They are in rural Vermont, with beautiful barns, animals grazing peacefully, and some taking advantage of the opportunity to swim under the bridge during the summer.
Finally, to extend your road trip, I suggest that you discover, 20 minutes from Burlington, the round church of Richmond, whose architecture is quite exceptional.
This Vermont college town has so much to offer. Notably:
- the Waterfront, whose boardwalk runs along Lake Champlain for a little over a kilometer. We picnic in the beautiful swings suspended here and there. Finally, the ECHO Center for children, educates them about the science and ecology of lakes. It is located at one end of the walkway.
- Do some shopping or simply stroll along the lively pedestrian street that is Church Street . Restaurants, terraces and micro-breweries are all there.
- Enjoy a guided tour with some tastings at Lake Champlain Chocolate. Or go enjoy an ice cream at Ben’s & Jerry’s unless you’d rather wait to visit the production facility located in Waterbury. A 30 minute drive.
- Visit the Burlington Farmers’ Market on Pine Street. It is held every Saturday between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm from May to October.
We also go there for:
- Shelburne Farms; a must – it’s loved especially by families. You can sleep there, go shopping, stay the day to enjoy the different activities with the animals. I refer you to the excellent blog of “Côté Hublot” which describes his experience.
- Microbreweries including the popular Magic Hat Brewing Company and Switchback Brewing Company.
- Finally, for those in great shape, there is the challenging 10 km climb up Mount Mansfield. The highest peak in Vermont ‘s Green Mountains, it tops the region at 1,340 meters. It is also possible to take a gondola from the village of Stowe to get there.
Lodging in Vermont
There is a wide range of accommodations in and around Burlington, Vermont. We looked at the three brands that most Milesopedia members earn points with:
- Just 12 minutes from downtown Burlington, the category 4 Fairfield Inn by Marriott Burlington Williston goes for 25-30,000 points per night during peak season. In our opinion, it is a very good choice. The hotel offers free breakfast and has a swimming pool. Having enjoyed 4th of July festivities in an American city in the past, I invite you to get in on the action.
- The Best Western Plus Windjammer Inn & Conference Center starts at 24,000 points per night.
- Finally, the DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington Vermont starts at 38,000 points per night.
For the return trip, take Highway 87 and then 105 to Jay Peak if you’re in the mood for a large indoor water park with water slides; the Pump House Indoor Waterpark.
You are then only a few kilometers from the Highwater rural customs station in the Eastern Townships. Open every day from 8 am to 8 pm.
Return to Canada: Testing
When you return to Canada, you should first know:
- that the law allows, at the discretion of the customs officer, for a $5,000 fine if you arrive at the Canadian border with a positive test. In fact, we have not heard of this measure being enforced,; it’s mostly been replaced by the request for a quarantine plan.
Regarding COVID testing, in the Plattsburgh, New York area:
- Walgreens pharmacies in Plattsburgh and Champlain offer free NAAT/ID NOW and antigenic testing. Results are shared in less than two hours and appointment slots open seven days in advance. However, they disappear very quickly.
- If you are returning home on Highway 87, Walgreens locations in Chertertown or Ticondera provide the same service by signing up 3-4 days in advance.
Walgreens and CVS pharmacies in Vermont offer free appointments that are also flying off the shelves like hotcakes. They open 7 days in advance for required testing. Results are sent within 2 hours at most locations.
Conclusion on the American East
With this article, we have dusted off our memories of road trips to the United States in anticipation of the border measures being eased, which has already begun.
Many of us will then return to travel outside the country using the land route.
Please note that the steps required to leave and return to Canada described in the article are those that prevail in March 2022 at the time of writing.
We are ready!