Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is a non-profit organization, begun in 2009, which creates and maintains hiking and cross-country ski trails in the Champlain Valley that link communities, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality. In its short history, CATS has developed 42 miles of trails. Some of those trails will be part of a 30-mile trail loop between Westport and Essex. CATS is working to create trails that make it possible for people to “Hike the Lake” by walking from hamlet-to-hamlet. CATS long-term plans include extending the trail system to neighboring towns around Lake Champlain and eventually connecting them to trails in the Adirondack Mountains, Vermont, and Quebec.
Enjoyment of CATS’ trails depends on conserving the Valley’s scenic vistas, natural areas, farms, businesses, and communities. The CATS Board recognized this and formed The Champlain Valley Conservation Partnership Project (CVCP) as a program for CATS to protect farms, forests, and clean water, promote local farming, sustainable forestry, and historic hamlets, and develop outdoor education and outdoor recreation-based tourism initiatives. Thus, CATS focuses on trails and through its CVCP program, it conserves land, increases understanding of nature, promotes outdoor recreation, and enhances economic vitality.
The Champlain Valley is a beautiful landscape of farms, forests, low mountains, charming hamlets, and breathtaking views. Unfortunately, the Valley has little public land and few hiking trails which combine to limit the economic benefits and pleasures of outdoor recreation. CATS – CVCP is addressing this problem by developing trails, conserving land, and promoting tourism, local farms, and businesses.