Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has announced it will open its Essex Quarry Nature Preserve trails on June 26th, 2021. CATS purchased the property in late 2019.
The Essex Quarry Nature Preserve is located on the south edge of the hamlet, just a short distance from the Lake Champlain Ferry’s Essex/Charlotte, VT landing.
“Volunteers and staff have been working on these trails all year and everyone is really excited about them,” said Derek Rogers, CATS Development Director, “It’s a really unique preserve and it will be great for year-round, family-friendly use.”
The Essex Quarry Nature Preserve is 35 acres. It began operating as a quarry in the 1800s, constructing many Essex buildings and even part of the Brooklyn Bridge’s foundation. Multiple buildings in Essex were built with its stone, including the Belden Noble Memorial Library, Essex Community United Methodist Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Today, the quarry site showcases a combination of natural, geological, paleontological and historic features. The quarry is home to 400-million-year-old fossils, once part of the world’s oldest coral reef. It also features a globally rare forest called the “Limestone Woodland.”
“The great thing about Essex Quarry Nature Preserve is that it’s right on Essex’s main street,” said Chris Maron, CATS Executive Director, “We hope people will take the ferry over and walk-through Essex, admiring the beautiful town, shopping at local businesses, and seeing the buildings made from quarry stone.”
Staff and volunteers have constructed over a mile of trails throughout the quarry, both for walking and cross-country skiing. An informational kiosk has been installed, and interpretive signs will go in soon.
The preserve will officially open to the public on June 26th. There will be a grand opening celebration at a later date.
“Our Stewardship Coordinator, Bill Amadon, the rest of the CATS staff and board, and many wonderful volunteers have assisted us in helping to make Essex Quarry a really spectacular place to enjoy,” said CATS Executive Director, Chris Maron. “We’re so happy that we had the opportunity to preserve it, thanks to generous supporters.”
“This preserve really does have it all: rich history, a unique natural community, and now – trails! We hope people will enjoy it to the fullest.”