Champlain Area Trails (CATS) will host a trail opening hike on the new Spirit Sanctuary Trail in Essex, on Saturday, November 27th at 10 a.m.
The Spirit Sanctuary Trail is a one-mile there-and-back trail that begins on Cook Road, about 1.3 miles west of NYS Route 22 in Whallonsburg. It goes through the new “green” cemetery, then along a forested little ridge overlooking a wetland and connects to the popular CATS Black Kettle Trail. Hikers can continue on this 1-mile loop trail with beautiful views, cliffs, big trees, and a scenic brook and then return through the Sanctuary.
“Volunteers and staff have been working on this trail for a while and it’s really exciting to see it come together,” said Chris Maron, CATS Executive Director, “It’s a really unique trail, which we created at the request of Spirit Sanctuary Burial Grounds. As people begin the hike, they can see an alternative system of natural burials. And then the trail goes through a really nice forest people will enjoy.”
Spirit Sanctuary is a 3-acre private burial ground on property owned by the Eddy Foundation, a conservation organization that preserves open space for the welfare of people, plants, and animals. The Sanctuary’s descriptive materials state that the cemetery allows “the deceased to naturally become a part of the earth and nourish a forever-regenerating forest. It is, and forever will be, a place of protected habitat for native plants, birds, and other animals. Visitors to Spirit Sanctuary will experience life in its many forms and be comforted by the great circle of existence.”
To be buried there, a family or individual reserves a burial site ahead of time, and by willing a portion of their estate to a pre-approved conservation group, the burial charges are considerably less than conventional burial costs with the modest fee covering administrative and management costs, including burial itself.
“The great thing about this trail is that it can provide a very healing experience,” said Bill Amadon, CATS Stewardship Coordinator, “Hikers are able to walk this trail and really witness the circle of life.”