This is the third year that my friends and I will be participating in the Champlain Area Trails Grand Hike (May 14th). Not only has it been a fun event, it has lead us through towns and trails in the Champlain Valley in a leisurely way. Our group is small, but we represent a variety of hiking expertise. The Grand Hike provides us an opportunity to walk together, converse and know that the end of the trail a cold beer and massage at the Essex Inn will be waiting for us.
Through the past few years, I’ve seen seniors walk only portions of the trails while runners complete the 11-mile route with a record time. Parents push strollers or carry their youngsters on their back. The Grand Hike is appealing to all levels of hikers. Whether it’s the volunteer naturalists willing to point out local fauna or the opportunity to meet new people, the 11-mile walk has something for everyone.
There are a few changes this year to this hamlet-to-hamlet hike. In the past the Grand Hike has started at nearby Westport, along the shore of Lake Champlain. This year Champlain Area Trails (CAT) Grand Hike will start at Wadham’s own Dogwood Bread Company and traverse along some of the numerous CATS trails to end at the Essex Inn Block Party. The CATS trail committee is also highlighting some of the newer trails and Champlain Valley businesses. I look forward to checking out the new Art Farm trail.
There are two free shuttles available, but patience is always the key. Shuttles will leave Essex at about 12:15 pm, 12:34 pm and 1:15. Registration and check-in is from noon to 1:30 pm across from the Dogwood Bakery Company. Since participants will finish at different times, a bit of a delay for any shuttle bus users may be expected. Dogs are not allowed on the shuttle buses so anyone hiking with an animal will have to make different arrangements. As in the past, my group plans on leaving a car in Essex and take the shuttle to the Dogwood Bakery start.
Even though this is an organized event basic hiking procedures still need to be followed such as wearing good walking shoes, bringing a backpack with extra food and water, rain gear and extra clothing, and a headlamp or flashlight. There are four designated stops (oasis) along the way to provide refreshment or a break along this 11-mile hamlet to hamlet hike. These are also opportunities for people to turn back if the distance proves to be too much.
The Essex Inn Block Party is open to everyone from 4-7 pm with food, drink and music provided by the Russell Bailey Trio. Free chair massages and restorative yoga with Lake Champlain Yoga and Wellness will take place at the nearby CFES Conference Center. Children’s arts and crafts table and a photo booth are located in the lobby.
The cost of the Grand Hike is $20 for adults and free for children (16 and under). People can register online or the day of the event. I look forward to seeing everyone on the trail. Enjoy!
Photo of Grand Hike into Essex, NY used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilyTime.com