Area businesses are generously supporting the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) Grand Hike, as the Saturday, May 11 event approaches, not just with contributions, but with publications, refreshments and even costumes harkening back to a 1970s dance era.
The Grand Hike—14 to 15.7 miles long — depending on the route selected — brings upwards of 270 people out to hike from the train station in Westport to the Essex Inn where a Block Party with food, live music and kids’ activities top off the fun day. It showcases the beautiful Champlain Valley as the route crosses meadows, fields and forests.
Spaced along the route, four oases offer delicious and healthy snacks and drinks and water to hikers at no charge. The oases are sponsored by local businesses and groups: the Dogwood Bread Company, Essex Initiatives, Dak Bars, the Village Meat Market and DaCy Meadow Farm.
“We love being a part of this great event,” said Susie Smith of Dak Bars. “Seeing all the happy hikers and supporting CATS at the same time is so much fun!” Smith, along with Ken Hughes of Essex Initiatives, were a hit last year at their Oasis 2 and its theme of “fiesta,” which included Mexican music, brightly colored serapes and sombreros along with fresh fruit and Dak Bars. This year’s theme for this hiker favorite is reported to be “disco,” and promises to be just as lively.
Hikers will park their cars in Essex between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and catch a shuttle bus to the check-in at Westport to begin their walk back to Essex. The shuttle buses will run all day between the Essex Inn and Westport and hikers can join or leave the Grand Hike at any of those oases as well.
The Grand Hike finishes with a celebratory Block Party at The Essex Inn. Hikers will mark their finish by banging the gong and then enjoying refreshments and relaxation. Popular local band Back in Time with their traditional and Americana music will set even tired toes to tapping and inspire some to sing along with and dance to songs they know. Hikers can take a commemorative photo from Overtime Photography, and kids get to make their own hiking medal at the Kids’ Art Table with the help of Erin Hall Studio. Face painting will be offered as well for all kids (grown-ups too). A delicious buffet dinner will be available at the Essex Inn for $15, with reservations made with the Grand Hike registration.
Local publications Adirondack Explorer and LOCALadk have donated copies of their magazines for hikers to take home at no charge; look for them at the CATS table at the Block Party.
The Grand Hike is open to all. Registration is $30. There is no cost for hikers under the age of 17. Nonhikers are welcome at the dinner and Block Party, but do need to make a reservation in advance. To register to hike, or for a dinner reservation, visit champlainareatrails.com or call the CATS office at 518-962-2287.