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MOUNT INDEPENDENCE

Orwell

4. MOUNT INDEPENDENCE 
Orwell 
Round trip: 2.9 miles
Highest Elevation: 306 feet
Elevation Gain: 200 feet
Directions: From Orwell, take Route 73 west. Bear left onto Mount Independence Road and follow it up a steep hill to the Visitor’s Center. The trailhead is above the Visitor Center. Click to map.

Mount Independence is a state historic site, named by the soldiers who were stationed there in 1776 when they received word of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It is not a mountain but a rocky bluff at the end of a peninsula on Lake Champlain across from Fort Ticonderoga. To hike through this active archeological site is to step back in time, as you try to imagine what life must have been like for its defenders during the Revolutionary War.

Mount Independence has four hiking trails, designated by color and ranging from 0.6 mile to 2.5 miles. By making a loop from the Blue Trail to the Orange Trail, you can pass most of the landmarks and enjoy views across the lake from several angles.

From the Visitor Center, bear right up the mowed lawn that once traversed a treeless military camp. Today, it is a picnic area surrounded by dense forest and wildflowers. After passing a flagpole that flies a colonial flag, turn left following the Blue Trail into the woods. The trail immediately clears the trees again onto a lawnlike path, the former site of the general hospital, and then re-enters the woods on a dirt road.

The road descends through mixed hardwoods, dropping steadily to a split log bridge. Soon, the trail flattens out, paralleling the shoreline. From here, the trail passes numerous fields, each the former location of a military facility.

At 2.2 miles, the Blue Trail ends at the Orange Trail at the end of the peninsula. Bear left to a rocky perch and the first clear view across the lake. A little farther, a broad rock slab marks the site where a floating bridge once connected Mount Independence with Fort Ticonderoga.

From here, the Orange Trail heads inland and climbs to the old Horseshoe Battery and a panoramic view of the lake to the north. A bit farther, the trail crosses another clearing, the highest point on Mount Independence. Though viewless, it is interesting because it was once shaped like an eight-pointed star. From here, it is an easy stroll down a wide grassy road back to the Visitor Center.

A new trail meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act will open this summer.
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MOUNT INDEPENDENCE BROCHURE

This brochure provides extra information, including the site's history, with a timeline of events, and a map with labeled hiking trails and a self-guided tour.

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