New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced a bold outdoor-recreation project in his January State of the State address. The Empire State Trail, which he hopes will be completed by 2020, will create a 750-mile trail network—the largest multiuse state trail in the nation and an economic driver for the region.
The $200 million state-funded project will add 350 miles of new trail to 400 miles of existing trail, creating contiguous routes from Buffalo to Albany and from the tip of Manhattan to the Canadian border. Eighty-five percent of the trail will be designated exclusively for cyclists, walkers, runners, and other recreators; the remainder will follow active roadways. Two large sections already exist. The Erie Canalway Trail from Buffalo to Albany is 80 percent complete, while the Hudson Valley Greenway from Manhattan to Albany is at 50 percent.
“There has been a quiet but steady movement toward multiuse trails in communities,” says Robin Dropkin, executive director of the nonprofit Parks and Trails New York, a longtime advocate of “closing the gaps” in the trail corridors.
“While many states are closing, privatizing, or reducing resources to state parks, New York state parks are going through a renaissance,” Dropkin says. In a 10-year period, the state has allocated $900 million toward critical repairs and new infrastructure.
According to the governor’s office, long-distance trails can generate up to $5 million annually. That primarily comes from regional tourism, but the Empire State Trail is also expected to support 9.6 jobs for every $1 million invested.
The project will be promoted via a mobile app highlighting nearby attractions and accommodations. Keep an eye out for updates.