After a two-year hiatus, Champlain Area Trails (CATS) will present a “shorter” Grand Hike on May 14 that makes a 6-mile loop on CATS trails through the fields and forests of Westport and ends at the Ledge Hill Brewery where there will be a “brew party” featuring the Bionic Band from Saranac Lake and food from DaCy Meadow Farm.
“We are so pleased to start this up again,” said Chris Maron, CATS executive director. “With so many uncertainties, we chose to keep it simple—to have it be an afternoon walk beginning at the Essex County Fairgrounds in Westport, going on a number of CATS trails, then on easy roads through Westport and ending at Ledge Hill Brewery which is right next to the fairgrounds. That makes for convenient parking for all those who want to enjoy our family-friendly trails and for those coming from farther distances.”
Hikers can begin hiking between 1:00 and 2:00. Participants can gauge their speed in walking six miles with the time they want to arrive at the Brewery. “Some of my friends recently hiked the route and it took them about 2.5 hours,” said Maron. “So, if you think you’ll take longer, start at 1:00. If you are faster, start closer to 2:00.”
CATS is building on the success of the Grant Hikes it hosted for six straight years before the Covid interruption. Depending on the year’s route, hikers walked either twelve or fourteen miles from Wadhams or Westport to the Essex Inn where people enjoyed a “block party,” which this year will be a “brew party” because it is at the brewery.
“We’re starting off with a shorter step to get the Grand Hikes going again,” said Amber Adamson, CATS Development Director. “Having the hike in Westport this year is one of many region-wide actions to publicize the Champlain Valley. So, it will be great to get people out on the trails to enjoy healthy outdoor physical activity, promote town-to-town hiking, and have fun at the brew party.”
Dan Keegan, CATS Board Chair added, “The Grand Hike brings people together –young and old, near and far, serious hikers and folks just out for a stroll. The outstanding spring beauty of the Champlain Valley they see along the CATS trails has a remarkable equalizing effect.”
Everyone is welcome for the hike and brew party, which non-hikers can also attend. There is a fee of $25/person and $50/family to register for the hike by May 10. After that date, the fee is $30/person and $60/family. Children under 18 are free. The registration fee includes one free drink per person. The brew party is free. Additional food and drinks are pay-as-you-go. To register go to the CATS website www.ChamplainAreaTrails.com.