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Trail markers like this one are popping up across the Champlain Valley.
Trail markers like this one are popping up across the Champlain Valley.

First-ever "Grand Hike" sets off in Champlain Valley

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A trail-building group in the Champlain Valley is holdings its first-ever town-to-town hike on Saturday, with dozens of people planning to trek between Westport and Essex. "Champlain Area Trails' mission is to create trails that link our communities," said Chris Maron, head of CATS, based in Westport. "We've been working away on trails that go between Westport and Essex and even though they're not all in place between those two towns, we figured it was time to have a hike."

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The Grand Hike is modeled after similar "inn to inn" treks held in England. Image from CATS used with permission.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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Chris Maron, head of CATS. Photo:  Brian Mann
Chris Maron, head of CATS. Photo: Brian Mann
Maron says the journey will take people from hamlet to hamlet and "from inn to inn" based on a popular model used on treks in Europe. Maron says he expects as many as 200 people to make the 14-mile hike, which begins at a hotel in Westport and winds through the Adirondack foothills to Essex. Maron says there will be rest areas set up along the route and shuttle buses.

"The nice thing about our trails is that they're relatively easy," he said. "About half of the hike on Saturday goes on scenic backroads and the other half goes on back trails."

Registration on Saturday begins at 7:30, with hikers setting out from Westport at roughly 9 am. In recent years, CATS has expanded significantly the number of hiking trails in the Champlain Valley. Last month, the group received a $42,000 grant from New York state to help establish a new trail link between the Coon Mountain Nature Preserve and Split Rock Wild Forest.

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