Champlain Canal Cruising Guide

The Champlain Canal is the 2nd longest canal section in the New York State Canal System. Starting approximately 2.0 NM above the Federal Lock at Troy, NY, at its junction with the Erie Canal in Waterford, NY, the Champlain Canal begins its journey to Lake Champlain.

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.

The Champlain Canal runs in a general northerly direction following the Hudson River to Fort Edward, NY and then along manmade land cuts to its terminus at Whitehall, NY where it enters the southernmost portion of Lake Champlain.

Navigation Season

The navigation season for the Champlain Canal is the same as the Cayuga-Seneca, Erie, and Oswego Canals: early May through November from 0700 to 2200 daily. However, prior to Memorial Day and after Labor Day these hours are typically restricted to 0700 to 1700 daily.


The Champlain Canal runs 60 SM (52.1 NM / 96.5 KM) from Waterford, NY to the southern end of Lake Champlain. The first 35 SM to Fort Edwards, NY makes use of the Hudson River, with the final 25 miles to Whitehall, NY made through land cuts.

Aids to Navigation

When transiting northbound Red markers are kept to starboard to lock C-12 in Whitehall. After leaving C-12, the buoyage system reverses with red to port.

NOAA Chart #14786, provides coverage of the Champlain Canal System with Lake Champlain being covered by its own individual charts. All charts are listed below running from Waterford, NY north to the Canadian Border:

Champlain Canal - Waterford to Whitehall Lake Champlain - Whitehall to the Canadian Border
14786-C1 14784
14786-C2 14783
14786-C3 14782
14786-C4 14781

You may view each respective chart by clicking on the "Chart #". The chart will open in a new window.


There are 11 locks on the Champlain Canal.

Lock C1 Lock C2 Lock C3
Lock C4 Lock C5 Lock C6
Lock C7 Lock C8 Lock C9
Lock C11 Lock C12  

NOTE: There is no Lock C10 on the Champlain Canal.

A complete listing of the Champlain Canal Locks with distances, lifts, and estimated transit times can be viewed at the Champlain Canal Lock & Transit Page.

Channel Depths

From Waterford, NY to Whitehall, NY project channel depths are 12 feet with 12 feet over the lock sills.

Bridge Clearances

At normal pool level, minimum bridge clearance from Waterford, NY to Addison, VT is 17’ 0" at bridge C-28. At maximum pool level minimum bridge clearance is found at bridge C-13 with a clearance of 12’ 1.6".

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.

Speed Limits

The speed limits vary for the Champlain Canal and range between 5 mph (4.3 knots) and 30 + mph (26 + knots) along its route.

Transit Times

As a general guide, Albany to Whitehall, NY will require about 12 hours depending on your speed.

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 your transit and possible overnight stops.

New York State Canal Menu

Introduction to the NYSCS

Federal Lock at Troy, NY

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