The longest multi-use state trail in the United States officially opened in New York last week. Running from New York City north to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal, the 750-mile Empire State Trail offers off-road trails for cyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, and snow-shoers. The Trail, which connects 20 regional trails to create a continuous statewide route, will be open year-round.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced plans for the Empire State Trail in 2017 during his State of the State address. The project filled the gap at two existing trails, the Hudson Valley Greenway and the Erie Canalway. In total, 58 separate projects were completed to make the trail continuous; 180 miles of new off-road trail were added and 400 miles of previously disconnected trails were joined.
“There’s no trail like it in the nation – 750 miles of multi-use trail literally from Manhattan to the Canadian Border, from Buffalo to Albany,” Cuomo said in a press release last week. “Not only does it provide an opportunity to experience the natural beauty and history of New York, but it also gives New Yorkers from every corner of the state a safe outlet for recreation as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Empire State Trail is made up of three main routes, including the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail, the Erie Canalway, and the Champlain Valley Trail. The north to south segment runs from Battery Park in Manhattan up through the Hudson Valley and Champlain Valley to the Canadian border. The east to west branch starts in Cohoes in Albany County and follows the Mohawk River, the Erie Canal, and ends at Buffalo Harbor State Park.
“The Empire State Trail is a testament to Governor Cuomo’s vision to make New York State an unmatched destination for outdoor recreation,” Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of New York State Parks, said. “Everyone from the most experienced long-distance cyclists to family groups with children will enjoy this pathway. People can take a quick bike ride or walk close to home, or they can plan a multi-day adventure to take them from one end of the state to the other.”
The state launched a website with an interactive map of the Empire State Trail as well as a list of activities available for both on and off the trail. And in October, Cuomo announced a new passport program to encourage New Yorkers to visit the 200 craft breweries found along 10 miles of the Empire State Trail. At each brewery along the trail, visitors can digitally check-in on the app and earn a stamp for the Empire State Trail Passport and the existing program, the Think NY, Drink NY Passport. Stamps lead to rewards, including t-shirts, backpacks, and more.
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