A large backpack will be useful for anyone deciding to attempt the Empire State Trail (EST) hiking trail in the state of New York end to end. The trail project began in January 2017. It’s expected to be completed in 2020, which is not long from now. Once the sideways T-shaped finished trail network is complete, thru-hikers can trek on a 750 mile continuous hike end to end. Here’s where your hiking travels will take you and what you’ll encounter along the way.
Much of the work on the EST’s branch from Albany to Buffalo involves the connecting and re-branding of pre-existing trails. You’ll soon be able to hike, walk, jog, bike, or cross-country ski from Battery Park in Manhattan N.Y. to the Canadian border. The Empire State Trail, a multi-use recreational trail, will be the longest state trail in the Nation.
Large backpack hikers, looking for multi-day backpacking treks, will have access to resources such as the Appalachian Trail through the Empire State Trail. Typical trail construction will feature a 10-foot to 12-foot wide hardened surface of asphalt or stonedust, with moderate grades.
Trekkers, walkers, hikers, runners, people pushing strollers, and bicyclists will enjoy the trail. Any and all abilities, from experienced long-distance cyclists to family groups with children just learning to ride, or seniors in wheelchairs will be welcome.
The vast majority of both the Hudson River Valley and Erie Canal Way branches will be off-road trails. Don’t let the term “off-road” discourage you; trails like these are designed to promote healthy lifestyles and connections to Nature by providing a safe and enjoyable outdoor recreational venue for outdoor activities. You’ll be able to head out to commune with nature, or just get a little distance from the rat race of everyday life.
The trail will run from Manhattan north to the northern tip of Lake Champlain and also from Buffalo to Albany. By completion, many entry points and trailheads to the EST will be clearly marked. Also available will be maps, information kiosks, picnic areas, bathrooms, and even fix-it stations for bike maintenance.
Approximately 400 miles of the Trail already exists in discrete, disconnected segments. 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.
Large backpack hikers and nature enthusiasts will soon have access to a website that will show exactly which facilities are available by use of your cell phone. This will enable you to zoom into a specific trail segment and see what amenities are available close to the section of trail you’re using.
With the EST trails, you will have connections to other regional bicycling and hiking trails linking the Hudson Greenway Trails, Appalachian Trail, the Adirondack and Catskill Park. The Genesee Valley Greenway and the St. Lawrence Seaway Trail plus others will link communities across New York. The critical role the Erie Canal played in the nation’s development and the scenic and cultural history of the Champlain Valley are all noted in the area’s history.
Finding your way will be simplified with proper 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 way finding signage will work in concert with local identifying signage
The Trail will be open all seasons. Outdoor loves will enjoy Winter uses such as hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. You can snowmobile will on designated off-road trail segments where available.
In areas where it’s not feasible to create an off-road route, the EST will follow public roadways. On-road sections will follow low-speed rural roadways and city streets. Easy to spot marking of crosswalks and paving shoulders will be made at strategic on-road locations.
Large backpack trail hikers will find some campsites and state parks along the EST, the trail passes through several towns. If camping out in a tent isn’t your thing, you will find indoor accommodations available. The pace of your hike should determine where you’re bedding down. If you’re a casual bicyclist, you should be able to cycle 25 miles a day. If you are just an outdoor walker, you’ll be able to cover about five miles a day. You’ll need to plan ahead where you’re staying for the night. Parks & Trails New York is a great resource for planning and information.
Making up large portions of the EST, rail-trails seamlessly incorporate history into the present. The Albany-Hudson Electric Trail traces the onetime path of the Albany-Hudson Electric Trolley from the Mid-Hudson Valley to the city of Rensselaer, home of the Crailo State Historic Site. The Dutchess Rail Trail includes a magnificent span over Hudson State Historic Park. Completed in 1889, the bridge once used to transport raw materials to eastern industrial centers, is making new history as the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.
You know from time spent in nature that you learn something new when you’re in the great outdoors. This trek is no different. Large sections of the EST, rail-trails seamlessly incorporate history into the present. You just may accidentally learn a thing or two along the way. Happy EST trail hiking.