The Empire State Trail is officially complete, giving bicyclists and hikers 750 miles to adventure through New York’s iconic landscapes ranging from New York City, Buffalo and the Adirondacks.
In 2017, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo first introduced the plans to build the project, connecting 20 regional trails to create a continuous pathway across the state. Over 180 miles of off-road routes were crafted, linking 400 miles of previously unconnected trailway.
"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. 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," said Gov. Cuomo during his announcement last month on the trail’s completion.
The Empire State Trail can be broken down into three separate sections: Hudson Valley, Erie Canal Trail and Champlain Canalway. Among those are sub-sectional paths, nearly all costing in the millions to construct — the most expensive being the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail, a $45 million venture that spans 36 miles following the historic route of the electric trolley system from the early 1900s.
The entire trail includes activities outside of biking, such as overnight camping sites and access to cultural attractions. It is estimated it will bring in 8.6 million residents and tourists annually, which will hopefully give the state an economic boost post-COVID recovery.
“This breathtaking trail will allow countless generations of New Yorkers and visitors to explore the world-renowned natural wonders and beauty of the Empire State and provide unparalleled recreational access to users of all ages and abilities - all while promoting environmental responsibility, tourism and economic development,” said New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez.
Meanwhile, another major cyclist project is gearing up for Southern New Yorkers called the Long Island Greenway. The extension to the Empire State Trail will include 175 miles from Manhattan to Montauk.
The Long Island Greenway will complete the full statewide experience, weaving through Queens and Brooklyn before entering Nassau County. According to a 2018 report by the Trust for Public Land and The New York Biking Coalition, the total estimated implementation cost is $114M – and that’s just for construction of a proposed route in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Phase 1 of the project ranges 25 miles from Eisenhower Park through Bethpage State Park to Brentwood State Park. “Creating what’s essentially a bike interstate. It’s the main spine, kind of parallel to the Long Island Expressway, where it’s building a true network,” said Carter Strickland, N.Y.S. Director at The Trust for Public Land, in a recent interview with NBC New York.
Strickland described how the point-to-point construction will bring in hundreds of Citi Bike posts. “One Citi Bike station isn’t worthwhile, but one hundred or even a thousand stations – then it becomes viable transportation option,” Strickland said.
Projecting forward, he hopes the Long Island Greenway will establish more walkable communities, encouraging less vehicle use and more exercise.
For maps and activities surrounding the Empire State Trail, click here.