Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is hosting the North Country’s third annual inn-to-inn hike on Saturday, May 14. The 11-mile Grand Hike to the Essex Inn will take place on CATS hiking trails and scenic back roads from Wadhams to the Essex Inn, where there will be a block party celebration featuring live music, restorative yoga and chair massage provided by Lake Champlain Yoga & Wellness, kids crafts and a photo booth to commemorate the event.
“The Grand Hikes have been a great success,” said Chris Maron, CATS executive director. “Over 200 people hiked each time from Westport to Essex. This year we’re starting in Wadhams so hikers can hike on two new trails.”
Check-in is from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. across from Dogwood Bakery in Wadhams. Participants are encouraged to park in Essex where, starting at 12:15 p.m., free shuttles will take them from the Essex Inn to Wadhams. People can hike the whole route or join at designated “oases," staffed with volunteers to provide refreshments. The block party begins at 4 p.m., so hikers should estimate their walking times and plan to arrive in Essex accordingly. People parking in Wadhams should arrange their own transportation back from Essex.
“Three years ago, I approached Chris with the idea of inn-to-inn hiking and that led to the birth of the Grand Hike,” said Essex Inn owner Rick Dalton. “Our goal is to attract people from outside our region to hike CATS’ beautiful trails and create a niche for inn-to-inn hiking. We look forward to partnering with other inns so hikers can stay at the Essex Inn, have a nice dinner, a good sleep, and pick up a boxed lunch for their hike the next day. We’ll offer transportation to trail heads and shuttle luggage to other inns in the area.”
Local author/illustrator Steven Kellogg said, "The Grand Hikes bring people together – young and old, near and far, serious hikers and folks just out for a stroll. The outstanding spring beauty of the Champlain Valley along the CATS trails has a remarkable equalizing effect."
Everyone is welcome to participate in the hike as well as the block party at the Essex Inn, which non-hikers can also attend. There is a registration fee of $20/person for the hike and block party; children under 17 are free. To preregister, go to the CATS website www.ChamplainAreaTrails.com or call 518-962-2287.