Since opening last spring, the Viall’s Crossing Trail, has been an increasingly popular addition to the Champlain Area Trails (CATS) network. People use it to hike between Westport and Essex, or to make a five-mile loop that starts and ends in Westport, or as an out-and-back.
Now, CATS has made the Viall’s Crossing Trail even better: Thanks to many volunteers, it added two new “loop” trails so hikers can enjoy the forest and meadow views without having to backtrack. To celebrate these two new trails, CATS is holding a grand opening hike, snowshoe, or ski Saturday, December 29, beginning at 10 a.m. The rain date is Sunday, December 30 at noon (check CATS website and Facebook Saturday morning if rain is a threat).
The new trails are:
Harold’s Oak Grove Trail, named for previous owner Harold White who resisted logger requests to cut a grove of white oaks in the southwest corner of his forest because he liked the old trees. Today, the trail showcases the beautiful oaks that Harold protected and that hikers enjoy.
The second loop trail is John Brown’s Trail and commemorates the Viall’s Crossing farm’s historical connection to abolitionist John Brown (Brown was friends with Harold’s great grandfather, Asa Viall, and would stay in the farmhouse when in Westport. After Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and his subsequent execution, Asa used his wagon to transport Brown’s body to his resting place by Lake Placid). This trail goes by some towering trees that bore witness to Brown’s passage.
The easy hike is free and open to the people of all ages. The 2.5 mile hike will take about an hour and a half and if there’s snow, participants are welcome to snowshoe or cross-country ski the trail. For skiers, there may be some more difficult narrow sections in the woods. The hike will begin from at the trailhead on Route 22, about halfway between Westport and Wadhams; look for the parking signs.
CATS success with the Viall’s Crossing Conservation and Trail Project is already providing benefits to the local community. “It is a special place,” says CATS Executive Director Chris Maron. “We’re delighted to have preserved this 130-acre treasure with a conservation easement that saves forest, habitat connectivity, and farmland in the Split Rock Wildway, creates trails for people, and saves an historic farm. It’s a wonderful place for people to enjoy.”
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. 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 champlainareatrails.com and by following CATS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please call (518) 962-2287 for more information.