Champlain Canal Navigation and Cruising Guide
The Champlain Canal is the 2nd longest canal section in the New York State Canal System. Construction of the Champlain Canal began in 1817 and 2 years later in 1819 the original section from Fort Edward, NY to Lake Champlain was opened. The Champlain Canal, as we know it today, was linked to the Erie Canal via the Hudson River at Waterford, NY in 1823.
Starting at Waterford, NY, and the Champlain Canal’s junction with the Erie Canal, the Champlain Canal begins its journey to Lake Champlain and then on to the Canadian Border.
The Champlain Canal trends northward following the Hudson River as far as Ft. Edward, NY. At this point it enters a man-made land cut and continues on to its terminus in Whitehall, NY. Once at Whitehall and leaving Lock C12 you enter the extreme southern portion of Lake Champlain.
The navigation season for the Champlain Canal is the same as for the rest of the New York Canal System, typically early to mid-May through October or November from 0700 to 1700 daily.
From just prior to Memorial Day to shortly after Labor Day the hours of lock C1 at Halfmoon, NY are typically extended to 0700 to 2200 daily, they then revert back to 0700 to 1700 for the remainder of the navigation season. All operating hours are subject to change from year to year.
A complete listing of this years operating schedule is located in the right sidebar (“NYSCS Operating Schedule”) and is published prior to the start of each year’s navigation season.
From its junction with the Erie Canal in Waterford, NY, the Champlain Canal runs approximately 61 SM (53 NM / 98 KM) to the southern end of Lake Champlain at Whitehall, NY. The first 37 SM to Fort Edwards, NY makes use of the Hudson River, with the final 24 miles to Whitehall, NY made through land cuts.
Complete distance tables can be found at the Champlain Canal Distances Page. The tables are published in Statute Miles, Nautical Miles, and Kilometers. They are available for download.
Aids to Navigation
Aids to Navigation When transiting the Champlain Canal northbound red markers are kept to starboard as far as Lock C12 in Whitehall. If you are headed southbound on the canal, then red markers will be left to port.
Regardless of your direction of travel, a buoyage system reversal occurs at Lock C12. After leaving C12 northbound, the buoyage system will be red to port.
NOAA Chart #14786, provides coverage of the Champlain Canal System with Lake Champlain being covered by its own individual NOAA charts.
The charts are listed below running from Waterford, NY north to the Canadian Border. The individual charts can be viewed by clicking on the "Chart #." The chart will open in a new window.
Champlain Canal - Waterford to Whitehall
Lake Champlain - Whitehall to the Canadian Border
There are 11 locks on the Champlain Canal.
|Champlain Canal Lock Photos|
|Lock C1||Lock C2||Lock C3|
|Lock C4||Lock C5||Lock C6|
|Lock C7||Lock C8||Lock C9|
|Lock C11||Lock C12|
A complete listing of the Champlain Canal Locks with distances, lifts, and estimated transit times can be viewed at the Champlain Canal Locks Page.
From Waterford, NY to Whitehall, NY project channel depths are 12 feet with 12 feet over the lock sills.
At normal pool level, minimum bridge clearance from Waterford, NY to Whitehall, NY is 17 feet 0 inches at bridge C-28. At maximum pool level minimum bridge clearance is found at Crocker’s Reef Guard Gate with a clearance of 14 feet 2.4 inches.
For a complete listing of Champlain Canal bridges, guard gates, and utility crossings along with their clearances, visit the Champlain Canal Bridge Clearances Page.
All lockmasters maintain a watch on VHF channel 13. Phone numbers of each lock can be found at the Champlain Canal Locks Page.
The speed limits vary over the length of the Champlain Canal ranging between 5 mph (4.3 knots) and 45 mph (39.1 knots) along its route.
As a general guide, Waterford, NY to Whitehall, NY could be done in approximately 7.5 hours. Keep in mind to accomplish this you will need to maintain the posted speed limits and all the locks will need to be opened and green lighted for you.
More realistically, you will probably require about 12 hours for the passage. However, if you can cruise at an average speed of 10 mph (8.7 knots) then 10 hours may get you through.
Distances between major points along the Champlain Canal can be found on our Champlain Canal - Distances Page. The distances table shown is useful in planning overnight stops while transiting the canal and is available for download.
NOAA Weather broadcasts for the Champlain Canal originate out of Albany, NY on 162.550 MHz, Gore Mountain, NY on 162.450 MHz, and Burlington, VT on 162.400 MHz. These stations provide almost continuous coverage of the canal and Lake Champlain to the Canadian Border; offering current and forecasted weather and emergency alerts.
A table with locations, frequencies, and channels is available for download.