Adirondack Hikes: Skipping stones on Lake Champlain

By Diane Chase

Skipping stones. I wouldn’t think that would be enough to keep my child entertained but I am proven wrong. We enter Pont au Roche Park and follow signs to the playground. It is officially off-season so parking is free, a bonus we didn’t expect. I try to get the kids to walk the one-mile bicycle path to the nature center, but they see the unoccupied beach and want out.

The car is hardly in park when they start running to the beach as if wild dogs were chasing them. What is the hurry? I just sit and watch the water lap over the sand in its season finale. I turn to get the lunch. I am in charge of the food. Everyone wants to eat it but it has become my role to worry about having it. Perhaps it’s a mother’s obsession but like some kind of magician I have been known to pull the makings for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich out of my bag. So it’s certainly no surprise my family expects me to have provisions on demand.

The kids are in a self-made competition to contribute to our nature table, a conglomeration of seasonally found items. The beach is filled with specimens at their disposal. My husband and children suddenly stop and stare at the shale rock cliffs lining the south side of the beach. It is nirvana, a stone skipping paradise. The nature table forgotten, they gingerly maneuver over the rocks and pick through the pieces to find the flattest sample. Each piece is turned in hand for perfect weight and balance. I can only skip each rock consistently twice while for my son and husband anything less than three is a personal failure. My daughter just wants to pitch any rock she finds into the lake.

I distract her from rolling boulders. We have checked with the park office and it is one thing to skip a few stones and another to be picking apart the fragile cliffs. We want to err on the side of caution.

For all our good intentions of exploring a part of the 825 acres of Point au Roche Park, we get as far as the beach and a picnic lunch. From Plattsburgh take Margaret Street to Rt. 9N. The park is four-miles from the Visitor’s Center on Rt. 9. Turn right onto Point au Roche Rd for 1.5 miles. The entrance is on the right. Off-season parking is free.

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