Champlain Area Trails (CATS) will host the 2018 Grand Hike on Saturday, May 12. This year’s 14-mile route will run from the Westport Train Station to the Essex Inn, beginning with a new trail on land CATS just conserved in the Westport area. Hikers will go through the beautiful forests and meadows of the Champlain Valley and enjoy its amazing views.
“This year’s Grand Hike route fulfills a dream we at CATS have had for years, a hamlet-to-hamlet hike that begins at the Westport Train Station and travels to Essex,” said CATS Executive Director Chris Maron. “It’s a fun day and we’re looking forward to seeing all the hikers enjoy this new route.”
The Grand Hike leads to a rollicking Block Party at The Essex Inn, featuring the Steady Benders band and delicious food and drink. Even tired feet will want to get up and dance to the honky tonk and western swing sounds of the popular local band. A buffet dinner will be available at the Essex Inn for $15, with reservations made with the Grand Hike registration.
Over the past five years, the CATS Grand Hike has become an event where friends and families meet up to walk the route, with last year’s hike attracting over 250 people. “This has become a family event for us,” said past Grand Hiker Annie McKinley of Westport. “Our kids come back for the weekend and we do the hike with my husband for his birthday celebration.”
Hikers will park their cars in Essex at 10:30 a.m. and catch a shuttle bus to the check-in at Westport from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m., and then walk to Essex. Those shuttle buses will run all day between Westport and Essex, passing the three oases staffed with volunteers and refreshments along the route. Hikers can join or leave the Grand Hike at any of those oases as well. This year’s oases are sponsored by Ernie’s Market in Westport, Essex Initiatives and Dak Bars, Dogwood Bakery in Wadhams and the Village Meat Market in Willsboro.
The Grand Hiker is open to all. The registration fee is $25 before May 7, $30 after May 7. Children under 17 are free. Non-hikers are welcome at the dinner and Block Party. To register, visit www.champlainaretrails.com or call the CATS office at (518) 962-2287
Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is a nonprofit organization that creates and maintains hiking and cross-country ski trails in the Champlain Valley, with the goal of linking communities, connecting people with nature and promoting economic vitality. To date CATS has created 53 miles of new trails and saved over 742 acres of land through conservation easements and/or ownership. CATS is also an accredited land trust working to conserve natural communities, farmland, clean water, and scenic vistas. Information on future CATS events and activities is available on the website at www.champlainareatrails.com and by following CATS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please call (518) 962-2287 for more information.