Imagine a trail that connects the metropolises, small towns, historic landmarks, and parks of New York state—and know that it’s not far off. Today Governor Cuomo announced the Empire State Trail, a 750-mile path for anything but driving that will stretch from Manhattan to northern New York, across to Albany and Buffalo.
The announcement came during the second stop on Cuomo’s week-long State of the State tour. The Empire State Trail is envisioned as a way to continue stoking tourism throughout the state, already at an all-time high.
“It would change the economic activity throughout the state,” Cuomo said. “The Empire State Trail, once completed, will be the nation’s largest state multi-use trail network, providing residents and visitors alike unprecedented access to New York's outdoor treasures, driving tourism and economic activity to communities across the state and helping to protect our environmental resources for generations to come.”
The Empire State Trail will be a paved surface along which trail-goers can run, bike, walk, and rollerblade (if anyone still does that) through parks and valleys, and along waterways across the state. It will complete and connect the unfinished Erie Canalway, which extends from Albany to Buffalo, and the Hudson River Greenway that runs 11 miles along Manhattan’s west side and into the Hudson River Valley, while also branching towards the Canadian border.
Though its a long way off, Cuomo’s vision is clear: the Empire State Trail would require the state to build, pave, and grade 350 miles of multi-use trails that would be constructed over three phases. The first phase would include 72 miles of trail, the second, 82 miles, and 196 miles in the third phase. The additional mileage is already built out through the Hudson River Greenway and Erie Canalway. The trail in its entirety is expected to be complete by 2020.
The state already owns most of the land the trail would wind past, and $53 million has been committed from this budget to see it realized. The experience, of course, wouldn’t be complete without a new website and app, which will connect users to local economies by helping them scout out attractions and services.