As of September 2019, three quarters (76%) of the 60 Empire State Trail construction projects are either under construction or complete. The remaining projects are in the contract bidding or final design stage. All Empire State Trail construction projects are on schedule for completion no later than the end of 2020.
Approximately 400 miles of the Empire State Trail already exists in discrete, disconnected segments. Empire State Trail funding will improve the remaining 350 miles, “closing the gaps” to create a continuous statewide route. Wherever possible, the Trail is “off-road,” utilizing historic railway routes (e.g. rail-trails) and canal tow paths along sections of the Erie and Champlain canals. For the 550 miles from Manhattan to Buffalo, 85% of the Empire State Trail will be off-road.
Typical trail construction features a 10 to 12-foot wide asphalt or stonedust surface 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 are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing accessibility to seniors and users with mobility challenges.
Wayfinding signage utilizing a distinctive Empire State Trail logo and directional arrows are being installed along the entire 750-mile route, making it easy to follow the trail.
A mobile website will be launched in 2020 to direct trail users to nearby local attractions and businesses, such as restaurants and lodging, bike repair shops, farm stands, historic sites, and downtown business districts.
The Trail is open to winter uses such as hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Snowmobiling will continue on designated off-road trail segments where it currently exists.
In areas where it’s not feasible to create an off-road route, the Empire State Trail follows public roadways. Spot improvements, such as marking crosswalks, installing share the road markings, and paving shoulders, are being made at strategic on-road locations.
Additional information is available in this report.