The following article can be found in our Fall – 2016 Camp Dudley News.
Champlain Area Trails Creates Trails All Can Enjoy
By Chris Maron, CATS Executive Director
Imagine being in a part of the Adirondacks where there are fabulous views but hardly any hiking trails. Pretty sad, right? Well, welcome to the Champlain Valley ten years ago, just before Champlain Area Trails (CATS) began making trails.
“When I moved here in 2000, #7973 Tim Barnett took me to Middle Road, in Essex,” said Chris Maron, CATS’ Executive Director. “He pointed toward Westport and continued pointing as he rotated in a circle and said, ‘We’ve had a dream of a 30-mile loop-trail from Westport to Essex, going along the lake and back along Boquet Mountain.”
That dream moved toward reality in 2006 when Steven Kellogg and Bruce Klink, of Essex, were both reading the chapter in Bill McKibben’s Wandering Home about walking through Essex and Westport. It inspired them to gather friends together to consider making a trails.
The group concluded that the Champlain Valley had few trails because as the last addition to the Adirondack Park, it was mostly private property. They decided to do something new—to create a network of hiking trails on mostly private land. They noted that the Eddy Foundation owned 2500 acres that could be the beginning of the trail corridor between Essex and Westport. With Eddy approval, they hiked the land, agreed upon trail routes, and recruited volunteers to create a six-miletrail.
In 2009, they incorporated CATS as a non-profit organization that creates hiking/skiing trails that link communities, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality. CATS soon became an accredited land trust that protects natural communities, farmland, and scenic vistas.
“Making trails and saving land are inextricably linked,” said Maron. “As people hike, they support conserving land which allows for more trails and builds more support for land conservation.”
After seven years, CATS has developed 30 new trails covering over 45 miles. Camp Dudley campers and Leaders have helped build some of those trails include a winter trail-clearing project that createdthe Three Creeks Trail.
CATS publishes a Trail Map annually showing its trails and other local trails. To promote hiking between communities, CATS has organized five “Grand Hikes” where as many as 250 people have walked from town to town on trails, farm lanes, and roads.
In 2015, #15017 Evan George became Chair of CATS Board of Directors. “I’m honored to serve the community in this way. Champlain Area Trails provide a great variety of hiking/skiing experiencesthroughout the year. People can hike up to spectacular vistas or enjoy walking by beaver ponds, rock walls, and lush forests. There are long, strenuous trails Dudley campers would like and shorter, easier hikes their parents might prefer.”
To learn more about CATS, visit its website, www.ChamplainAreaTrails.com.