The Essex Quarry Nature Park

Conservation & Trail Project

CATS is pleased to announce that we’ve officially preserved 35 acres in the Town of Essex, N.Y., on land that features 400 million-year-old fossils—once part of the world’s oldest coral reef—as well as a globally rare type of forest.

The Essex Quarry Nature Park is located on the southern edge of the hamlet, just a short distance from the Lake Champlain Ferries Essex/Charlotte, Vt. landing.

The Nature Park will include hiking trails and educational signs and is on the site of the former Essex Quarry that operated from the late 18th century to just a few years ago. Stone carved from the quarry walls was used in many of the buildings in Essex and was shipped south by lake and river barge, where it was used in the construction of the State House in Albany and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Today, the site showcases a combination of natural, geological, paleontological and historic features. These include fossils from an oceanic reef that dates back to a time when New York and Vermont were actually on separate continents thousands of miles apart.


The eastern part of the property features a rare natural community that was identified by Steve Young, an ecologist with NY State’s Natural Heritage Program as a “Limestone Woodland.” It occurs on shallow soil above limestone bedrock and, while it occurs extensively along Lake Champlain, it is rare on the planet and in the rest of New York.

Now that the property has been permanently protected CATS staff and volunteers will develop hiking trails for both walking and cross country skiing. Interpretive signs will be installed to inform visitors about the limestone woodland, geological features, fossils, and historical uses of the quarry.  The Park is within easy walking distance for Essex residents who can enjoy healthy physical activity on its trails. For people visiting Essex, it will provide an informative trail they get to by traveling through the village with many patronizing local businesses.

The quarry’s current owners wanted it to become a permanent park for the people of Essex and approached CATS to find a way to make that happen. They have generously discounted the purchase price of the property for CATS. The purchase cost along with other transaction and trail development costs—which includes a kiosk, parking area, and signs—bringing the total project cost to $165,000.

CATS is thrilled to have completed Phase One of this project; preserve the land. Now, as CATS begins Phase Two of this project, we are continuing to raise money through private donations and grants to build the Essex Quarry Nature Park.  Click here to learn more about this exciting project. Additional details on the Essex Quarry Nature Park Project are available by calling the CATS office at 518-962-2287 or emailing info@champlainareatrails.com

If you’d like to donate to this exciting community project, you can send a check in any amount to Champlain Area Trails, PO Box 193, Westport, NY 12993, and write “Essex Quarry” in the memo line. CATS is also offering naming opportunities within the nature park for donations of $1,000 and above. 

As an alternative to writing a check, you can make a secure online donation here. In the dropdown box beside  “Where shall we direct your donation?”  scroll down to “Essex Quarry Nature Park.”

Thank you!


Volunteer with CATS!

CATS has grown in the past few years so that we now manage 34 trails, covering over 54 miles. That is fabulous!

With that growth, the need for extra hands has grown as well and not just for help on the trails themselves (though that is significant!). We have a small 3-person staff at CATS and so rely on volunteers to help us accomplish our goals.

We need interested people to serve on committees which include trails, conservation, outreach, and more. We could also appreciate your help when we have a CATS booth at special events, like farmers markets or festivals.


And most importantly, we need your help keeping the trails in good condition. Yes, some might call this “housekeeping”—but it’s housekeeping outdoors!


So, we are asking you to please help by responding to this email and letting us know if you would like to be a CATS volunteer—and by telling us what interests you and where you’d like to help.

Here are some ideas of the kind of help we have in mind:

Trail Work

  • Hike a trail, remove fallen branches, trim brush and branches that are encroaching onto trails
  • Make note of special problems or tasks you can’t handle and let us know
  • Mow grass (we have the mower)
  • Replace trail markers
  • Build boardwalks and/or small bridges over wet areas

Trail Adopter. Perhaps you might be someone who adopts a particular trail and regularly does maintenance on that trail (we’ll teach what you need to know)

 Trail Monitor: If you are someone who regularly hikes a trail, you can let us know if there’s a problem that needs attention

Office Help. Yes, there are special and occasional needs in the office. Please let us know if you want to help in that way so we can contact you when the task is needed.

Serving on a CATS Committee. Just let us know if you have an interest in a particular committee.

CATS Outreach. Help us when we have a CATS booth at a farmers market or event when we tell people about the organization and hand out free maps.

Special Skills. Do you have particular skills like woodworking that we could call upon for help building registration kiosks, making signs or even building simple bridges?

Even if you only have a few hours at a time, that’ll work. And if there’s another way you’d like to help, just let us know.

To get started, please respond to this message by dropping us a note at info@champlainareatrails.com or calling (518) 962-2287 and let us know what you’d like to do, what area works best for you, and if there are other ways you’d prefer to help.

Thank you in advance!


Items for sale in the CATS office!

We  have two new tee shirt styles available in the CATS office in Westport along with other cool items. We can ship them to you. Any questions, just give us a call at (518) 962-2287 or email info@champlainareatrails.com.








The gray one is short sleeved, the orange (great for the woods in the autumn) has long sleeves. Unisex styles, S, M, L, and XL. $18 for the gray, $20 for orange. We can ship! To order, please call the office at (518) 962-2287 or email info@champlainareatrails.com or stop in the office at 6482 Main Street, Westport.

Thanks to CATS Board members Delia Thompson and Rob Powell for modeling the new shirts at The Mountaineer’s Great Adirondack Trail Weekend.

Designed to wick away perspiration and “breathe.”  Available in Women’s Small, Medium and Large, and Men’s Medium, Large and Extra Large.  $18

Split Rock Wildway
Scouting the Adirondack Park’s Most Diverse Wildlife Corridor

John Davis’s new book is a rambling look at the wildlife thriving in the wooded hills and adjacent waterways linking Lake Champlain with the High Peaks. A great read! 

Paperback, 160 pages, $15


A huge thank you to our Oak Level Business Sponsors!




Edgemont B & B






A special thank you to all our Sponsors!  Please support our local businesses.

CHAMPLAIN AREA TRAILS’ MISSION is to create a network of hiking/skiing trails in New York’s Champlain Valley that link communities, connect people to nature, and promote economic vitality; and as an accredited land trust, to protect habitat, farmland, clean water, and scenic vistas.


CATS is one of just a few hundred land trusts that has been awarded accreditation. Accredited land trusts are authorized to display this seal, indicating that they meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent. The seal is a mark of distinction in land conservation that we are proud to display.



Contact Information:
6482 Main Street, PO Box 193

Westport, NY  12993
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