We missed seeing so many of you this May, which is when we would normally host our annual Grand Hike and we hope that the 2020 Grand Challenge is a fun, self-managed and safe alternative for our friends and supporters! 

Please register here and help CATS exceed its goal of raising $10,000! This is a fundraiser and your participation helps CATS save more land and make more trails! 

How Do You Participate?

It’s simple! Hike one of the three routes that we’ve outlined below and fill out the registration form on our website. The challenge officially begins on September 21, 2020 and will end on November 15, 2020. So you have a two month window in which to complete one of the three hikes. The entry is $25 per person and each registrant will receive their commemorative, limited edition 2020 Grand Challenge Patch! And yes, this is a fundraiser! So if you’re eager to contribute more in the name of saving land and making trails in New York’s Champlain Valley then we welcome your support! We are a non-profit, accredited land trust and our trails and lands are integral part of the Champlain Valley communities.

Start building your CATS Grand Challenge patch collection and earn your limited edition 2020 patch before the challenge ends!

The Routes

In the spirit of inclusivity, we chose three options that range from easy to moderate to difficult. Complete one of the three routes to earn your patch! If you choose to hike all three, then we won’t stop you! Each route, described below, contains its own, downloadable map that you can bring with you on your hike. 

Boquet Ridge Ramble (difficult) – The most challenging of the three routes and you can find the map here. This is a great route and a fantastic way to experience CATS newest trail addition that leads to summit of North Boquet Mountain. The route direction is clockwise and we are offering 4 parking/start options so participants can comfortably spread out, maintain safe distances and have the option of alternative parking in the event that one of the parking areas is full. 

Viall’s Crossing (moderate) – The 5.3 mile Viall’s Crossing loop has become a staple in the CATS trail network. Click here to find the map that details this beautiful loop trail. You’ll traverse through fields and forests and you’ll understand why the Champlain Valley is the most biodiverse region in the Adirondack Park. Like the Boquet Ridge Ramble, this is a clockwise route and we are offering 4 parking areas so participants can comfortably spread out, maintain safe distances and have the option of alternative parking in the event that one of the parking areas is full. 

Wildway Passage Trail (easy) – Short but incredibly sweet, the Wildway Passage Trail is a 1.3 mile loop that leads through a beautiful forest, crosses streams and traverses the edge of small cliffs. You can view the trail map here. Hike the Wildway Passage Loop and experience this integral connection of the Split Rock Wildway, an important wildlife corridor linking Lake Champlain to the mountain region. Parking is located at near the south end of Angier Hill Road in Westport.

Thank you for supporting CATS! And please help spread the word about this “fun-raiser” and ask your friends to participate. Your participation helps raise money for new places to hike and enjoy nature in New York’s Champlain Valley.

And please contact us with any questions at info@champlainareatrails.com or by calling us in the office at 518-962-2287. And be sure to send us your photos, experiences, wildlife sightings and more, while you’re out completing one of the challenges!

Happy Trails!

CATS releases its 2019 Annual Report!


The Essex Quarry Nature Preserve

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!

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’ saves lands, makes trails, connects people with nature and promotes economic vitality in New York’s Champlain Valley.


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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