The most practical mode of travel and communication through the wilderness separating French Canada and British North America during the 18th century was by water. The Sorel (Richelieu) River, Lake Champlain, Wood Creek, and the Hudson River furnished a direct water route from Montreal to Albany, broken by portages around the rapids at Chambly on the Sorel and between the southern end of Wood Creek and the Hudson at Fort Edward. An alternative route by way of Lake George involved an additional portage around the falls at the outlet of the lake.
Crown Point, where Lake Champlain narrows to a quarter mile in width, was a natural position from which to control traffic along this route. French, British, and American forces recognized this fact, and each, in turn, made the occupation of Crown Point and control of the waterway primary objectives in military planning.