Against the backdrop of the Champlain Valley, the fourth Grand Hike to the Essex Inn will be held on May 13. Hosted by Champlain Area Trails (CATS), the 12-mile “Town-to-Town” hike travels CATS hiking trails and scenic back roads from Wadhams to Essex.
After parking at the Essex Inn, hikers ride free shuttle buses to Wadhams to begin the full hike back to Essex. Shuttle buses start to run at 11 am, with check-in across from the Dogwood Bakery in Wadhams from 11 am to 12:15 pm.
Walking the full 12 miles isn’t required though: hikers can start or stop at one of the four oases sponsored by local business. The shuttle will run during the day so people can park in Essex and take the shuttle to an oasis; or park at an oasis and take the shuttle to their car after the hike. Water refills, snacks, a porta-potty and first aid supplies are available at each oasis, some of which are “themed” (look for the luau party oasis).
Upon arriving at the Essex Inn, hikers celebrate their accomplishment by striking a gong. Then they can join a block party, 4 to 7 pm, with music from the Zip City Blues Band and a buffet dinner (for an extra fee). As in past years, there’s restorative yoga and chair massage courtesy of Lake Champlain Yoga & Wellness. For the children, there’s an art table hosted by Erin C. Hall Studio, and to commemorate the day, there’s a free photo booth provided by Overtime Photography.
Everyone is welcome for the hike and block party (where non-hikers are also welcome). The fee is $25 per person. Children under 17 are free, as is the block party. For more details or to register, visit the CATS website or call (518) 962-2287.
Photos: Above, hikers on the Long Valley Trail; and below, hikers strike the gong at Essex Inn (provided).