Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has announced the route for the 2019 Grand Hike on May 11 which includes revisions to last years route. For the last few years, the final stretch of the 14-mile Grand Hike from Westport to Essex included a three-mile walk along Route 22.
This year, though, the route leaves the highway for all but 500 feet and instead crosses scenic pastures and forests before connecting with Blockhouse Road into Essex.
Beginning at the train station in Westport and ending at the Essex Inn, the route meanders through the newly preserved Viall’s Crossing Farm and its new trail loops. Hikers will stroll through the forests and meadows of the Champlain Valley and enjoy its views. Six oases along the route will serve up refreshments, treats and encouragement for hikers on the trail.
Hikers should park their cars in Essex between 10 and 10:30 am 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 Westport and Essex 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, featuring the band Back in Time. A buffet dinner will be available at the Essex Inn for $15, with reservations made with the Grand Hike registration.
The Grand Hike is open to all. Registration is $25 before May 6, and $30 after May 6. There is no cost for hikers under the age of 17. Non-hikers are welcome at the dinner and Block Party. To register, visit CATS website or call their office at (518) 962-2287.
Now in its sixth year, the Grand Hike has grown steadily. Last year’s hike attracted over 275 people.
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 their website. Call (518) 962-2287 for more information.
Photo of hikers on bridge provided by CATS.