The Empire State Trail initiative will:
- Connect New Yorkers and visitors to the natural, historic, and cultural splendor of the Empire State – emphasizing we are “one New York.”
- Link communities across New York, interpreting the history and beauty of the Hudson River Valley, the critical role the Erie Canal played in the nation’s development, and the scenic and cultural history of the Champlain Valley.
- Host an estimated 8.6 million visitors annually across the trail’s 750-mile route.
- Promote healthy lifestyles by providing safe and enjoyable outdoor recreational opportunities for New Yorkers of all ages and physical abilities. Studies show that every $1 invested in recreation trails yields $3 in direct medical benefit.
- Support regional economic development strategies by promoting recreational and history-based tourism opportunities, including a sophisticated on-line website and mobile app presence to promote and leverage state marketing efforts such as I Love NY, Adventure NY, Path Through History, and Taste NY, along with local and regional destination marketing.
- Celebrate and promote connections to other regional bicycling and hiking trails – highlighting linkages to the Hudson Greenway Trails, Appalachian Trail, the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, the St. Lawrence Seaway Trail, the Genesee Valley Greenway, and many others – to extend the Empire State Trail’s physical and economic impact.
- Contribute to the development of Complete Streets design concepts and the nonmotorized transportation network, providing enhanced local and regional transportation choices.
The Empire State Trail will be a multi-use path designed to accommodate shared use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Typical trail construction will feature a 10-foot to 12-foot wide hardened surface (asphalt or stonedust) with moderate grades, welcoming walkers, hikers, runners, people pushing strollers, and bicyclists of all abilities, from experienced long-distance cyclists to family groups with children just learning to ride.
- The trail surface and associated improvements will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing accessibility to users with mobility challenges and older visitors.
- Wayfinding signage utilizing a distinctive Empire State Trail logo will be installed along the entire 750-mile route, as well as signage directing users to connecting trails. New wayfinding signage will work in concert with local identifying signage.
- The Trail will be open to winter uses such as hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Snowmobiling will continue on designated off-road trail segments where appropriate.
In areas where it’s not feasible to create an off-road route, the Empire State Trail will follow public roadways. Where possible, on-road sections will follow low-speed rural roadways and city streets. Spot improvements such as marking crosswalks and paving shoulders will be made at strategic on-road locations.
Here are more details on the general plan of the Empire State Trail, the design guide and information on two new projects being added to the trail.