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TIPS FOR EXPLORING THE LAKE CHAMPLAIN REGION

The Lake Champlain area, shared by Vermont and New York, can easily fill up your next vacation with recreation, sightseeing, historical sites from America's turbulent early days, and plenty of spots for just taking it easy.

The big attraction of the Champlain Valley is the Fort Ticonderoga National Historical Landmark (www.fort-ticonderoga.org), a key point in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. There's a timeline showing what has happened at the site from the first known native Americans through the wars and restoration to the present.

Save some time to explore more of the area around the fort. The Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce (www.ticonderogany.com) will fill you in on other scenic spots, including Mount Defiance, and local places to eat, sleep and relax.

Learn more about the role of Lake Champlain and adjoining Lake George in the nation's early days at America's Historic Lakes (www.historiclakes.org/contents.htm) where you can read about forts and battles from Blood Pond north to Fort Chambly. Click on "Fort Ticonderoga" and then on "Ruins" to see what had to be done to restore the fort.

Three Valleys to Freedom (www.thenortherncampaign.org) will direct you to information on other spots important to American history in the Champlain, Hudson and Mohawk valleys of New York and Vermont. Not all of them have their own Web sites, but Three Valleys provides directions and details on accessibility and available facilities.

According to Lake Champlain Region (http://lakechamplainregion.com), the west side of the lake is New York's Adirondack Coast. Click on "What to Do" for details on everything from fishing to "Chillin' Out," which covers leisurely strolls and easy road tours.

The other side of the lake is New England's northwest coast, according to Lake Champlain Islands (www.champlainislands.com) where you click on "Tourism" to check out some of the things to see and places to stay on the Vermont side of the valley. Lake Champlain Region (www.vermont.org/index.html) has more links to motels and inns in the region.

Unless you're on a tight schedule, you should have time to head west into New York's Adirondacks (http://adk.com), an enormous region of dense forest, rugged peaks, streams and lakes, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. This Web site provides links to info on inns, campgrounds, scenic drives and recreation.

Roger Petterson, Associated Press

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