Running 84 miles between the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lake Champlain, the Military Trail offers a dynamic mix of recreation, war history, and scenic beauty. The route parallels the border between the U.S. and Canada, and was used by the military for many years to transport troops and equipment between the two major waterways.
Rouses Point to Malone
The Military Trail follows part of the Old Military Turnpike, a route once rumbled over by troops, cannons, and even boats during the height of the French and Indian War when the French and English armies began constructing forts along the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lake Champlain.
Start your journey on Route 11 in Rouses Point at the northernmost end of Lake Champlain. Look for the ruins of Fort Montgomery (not open to the public) near the bridge to Vermont. It is also known as "Fort Blunder," because after its construction by the U.S. army in the 1800s, it was discovered that the fort was actually built on Canadian soil. Stone from the old fort was used in building the bridge to Vermont. Following Route 11 out of Rouses Point, you will soon arrive in the Town of Chateaugay. Look for signs for the amazing High Falls Park. The park is home to a majestic waterfall, formed during the last of the ice ages, which plummets more than 120 feet. The park features great fishing at the foot of the waterfall, a full-service campground, hiking trails, and a playground.
A few miles south of Chateaugay, along Route 374, are the beautiful Chateaugay Lakes. Here there are boundless opportunities for canoeing, fishing, and boating. Look for the state boat launch between the lakes on 374. Back on the Military Trail, as you continue west from Chateaugay on Route 11, set aside some time to visit the Wilder Farm Museum in the Town of Burke. Fans of writer Laura Ingalls, whose books inspired the Little House on the Prairie television series, may recall the story of her husband, Almanzo Wilder. Her book, Farmer Boy, describes Wilder's childhood on this upstate New York farmstead. The Wilder Farm has been restored and is open for tours and events.
After leaving Burke, you will soon come to the Malone Fairgrounds. The Franklin County Fair, which runs for two weeks every August, features everything from rooster crowing contests to Hollywood stunt shows to concerts, and features some of country and western music's top names. In downtown Malone, there are many elegant buildings and homes. Malone generated its wealth from the Salmon River, which was harnessed to power the town's many manufacturing mills. Along the river, several old mills are still standing, and the Ballard Mill complex has been converted into shops and art galleries.
A short drive south on Route 30 out of Malone will take you to some more great recreational opportunities. The Malone Country Club has one of the North Country's premier golf courses. There are two 18-hole golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, a fully equipped pro shop, and fine dining facilities. Head south on Route 30 out of Malone, to Titus Mountain Ski area, offering more than 20 trails and night skiing. Look for the distinctive brown and yellow signs. Back on the Military Trail, head north out of Malone on Route 37 toward Fort Covington.
Fort Covington to Massena
This stretch of road carves through what were once the hunting grounds of the Mohawk Indians. Each spring, members of the tribe left their homes in the Mohawk Valley to hunt along the St. Lawrence River, a land abundant in deer, beaver, muskrat, birds, and fish. You can find out more about Mohawk history in nearby Hogansburg at the Akwesasne Museum. Exhibiting many unique artifacts, the museum chronicles the tribe's history and culture in the North Country. Works by contemporary artists are also featured to complement the traditional pieces. Pottery, beadwork, silversmithing, and Mohawk basketry are on display.