Along the St Lawrence Seaway

By | Category: Travel destinations

Following the St Lawrence Seaway on the US side of the Great Lakes in Upper New York state is something that very few visitors from Britain and Ireland do.
Unless you’re a birdwatcher. But a leisurely drive down from Rooseveltown to Cape Vincent will give you a range of views and landscape that will be quite different from what many visitors see.
Why?
Because it is a combination of seaway, marshland, wetlands, small towns and villages, national parks and peace. If you want somewhere where something happens all the time avoid this area. If you want a busy nightlife or crowds go to somewhere like Buffalo and Niagara Falls instead. The only crowds you’ll see here will be flocks of birds. The only nightlife you’ll see will be birds roosting. But this is a great place – even if you’re not a birdwatcher – to see one illustrious and majestic bird; the bald eagle.
The trip along is signposted as the 518 mile long Great Lakes Seaway Trail and, although it runs along into Pennsylvania, this trip just covers the run by the St Lawrence Seaway. It changes highway numbers quite a bit so follow the signs rather than the highway numbers. Starting from Rooseveltown, head out for highway 131 which takes you along the shoreline. There are locks to let the huge cargo and passenger ships through and that in itself is a spectacle if you’re lucky enough to see it. about 3,000 go through each year. take time out near the beginning of your journey to stop at the Eisenhower Lock to see the platform in the Seaway Visitors’ Center which gives you a better view of passing ships.
This part is probably the coldest of the region and during the main winter months is relatively inhospitable. Late spring, summer and autumn times are probably the best unless you want to look for winter birds. The campsites will obviously be closed then as well. This isn’t the place for big brand hotel chains. Small, cosy B&B’s and family run motels are the norm as you won’t even pass through big sprawling cities.
This year in September, the Carp Angling World Championship takes place on the St. Lawrence River when the two defending champions – both Brits- might encourage others of us to travel there.
It’s not only the scenery and bird watching that are the attractions. When you come to the Thousand Islands region stop off at Alexandra Bay. There you’ll see one of the fastest growing wineries in America. Less than 10 years old, the Thousand Isles Winery now produces 30,000 gallons of wine a year. Its latest venture is a planned frozen wine flavoured dessert such as sorbets. Legislation was only passed two months ago allowing this to happen. But this is only one of four vineyards in the area. After tastings you might see a whole flock of bald eagles or bitterns. Or even pink elephants! Along the Seaway trail you’ll find many more vineyards to visit.
This is real America. Its not the life you see in cities or suburbs. Visitors are generally American or Canadian rather than European. Life is at a slower pace than you’ll find in new York or Chicago. Or even Buffalo. And that is the appeal.
For more about the trail click here.

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