Tag Archives: Erie Canalway

NYS Launches ‘Empire State Trail Challenge’ on New 750-Mile Recreation Trail

Set A Goal To Run, Walk, or Bicycle the New 750-Mile Recreation Trail This Spring

Registration Is Now Open Here For Four-Month Challenge

Biking over the Rosendale Trestle, 150 feet above the Rondout Creek, on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, part of the 750-mile New York Empire State Trail network. The Empire State Trail has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” – a four-month virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail.  
© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Empire State Trail has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” – a four-month virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail.  

Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced completion of the Trail, now the nation’s longest multi-use state trail. Following New York’s historic canal systems and rail trails, the new recreational trail spans the state from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, and gives bicyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and others a safe and scenic pathway to experience New York State’s incredibly diverse landscapes.

“The Empire State Trail Challenge brings together two giants of outdoor recreation in New York State – our new 750-mile Empire State Trail and Utica’s classic Boilermaker race,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we continue to come back from the COVID-19 health crisis, the challenge is a great way to show how we can have fun and be New York Tough at the same time. I encourage any interested New Yorkers to participate in this exciting event on our incredible new statewide trail.” 

The Boilermaker organization has held a 15-kilometer running race in Utica since 1978, which has grown into one of the largest 15K races in the country, attracting 10,000 to 15,000 participants annually. With the Boilermaker and most in-person races postponed due to COVID, the virtual Empire State Trail Challenge initiative will engage participants and provide a unique race experience throughout the spring season. 

“Creating opportunities for healthy activity and lifestyles lies at the core of the Boilermaker mission,” Boilermaker Marketing Director Jordan Peters said. “So it was a natural fit to work in concert with New York State to provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to get outside and participate in a safe and healthy endeavor while highlighting the features of the Empire State Trail.”

The Boilermaker Empire State Trail Challenge is a four-month virtual race through July 31. Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling on Friday, April 9. Participants would complete the mileage of at least one leg of the Empire State Trail: either the Hudson Valley Trail: 210 miles (New York City to Albany); the Erie Canalway Trail: 350 miles (Albany to Buffalo); or the Champlain Valley: 190 miles (Albany to Canada Border at Rouses Point). Participants can sign up as teams or individuals. For more information or to register, visit the website.

Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge.

Each entrant would receive a t-shirt with their $25 entrance fee for a single leg of the trail. If interested, participants can register for additional legs at the time of registration or any time during the race period at $5 per leg. Challenge participants will enter their mileage on an online platform over the duration of the race window, reaching milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, and have the ability to share their experiences on social media.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Empire State Trail Challenge is one of the ways we are building back better at our state parks and trails. Our parks and trails have been safe and healthy outlets for everyone during the pandemic. Whether enjoying a fun nature break with friends and family, or truly testing their limits, the Empire State Trail Challenge offers participants of all ages and abilities a rewarding and socially distanced opportunity to enjoy New York’s outdoors.”

“The partnership with the Boilermaker is a great way to introduce the Empire State Trail to those across New York State and the nation who take part in the storied race every year,” Empire State Trail Director Andy Beers said. “The Empire State Trail is an ideal pathway for runners, bicyclists, and walkers to get outside and exercise, while learning about the iconic landscapes, local communities, and historic and cultural attractions along the 750-mile trail. 

Director of the New York State Canal Corporation Brian U. Stratton said, “This exciting new partnership will offer thousands of New Yorkers and Boilermaker runners from around the country a chance to see the very best of our state, encouraging safe and responsible outdoor recreation along the lengths of the Empire State Trail. Governor Cuomo’s ongoing Reimagine the Canals program is based on forward-looking partnerships like this, which bring together communities and New Yorkers to lift up local economies and showcase the exceptional history of the Erie Canal, as well as the tremendous upgrades and new attractions being constructed along its banks.”

“The Empire State Trail is the newest jewel in New York State’s tourism crown and the Challenge is an opportunity to promote the trail to those looking for unique ways to experience the great outdoors,” New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said. “We hope that events like the Empire State Trail Challenge inspire more people to utilize the trail as a centerpiece of a getaway to the many the communities it touches across the state.”

The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information along the 750-mile route including segment descriptions and an on-line map identifying off-road trails connecting on-road sections, trail distances, designated parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions.

See also:

Cycle the Erie 8-Day, 400-Mile Bike Adventure Registration Now Open for Limited 350 Spots

NEW YORK’S EMPIRE STATE TRAIL COMES TOGETHER: BIKING THE WALLKILL VALLEY RAIL TRAIL IN HUDSON VALLEY

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Cycle the Erie 8-Day, 400-Mile Bike Adventure Registration Now Open for Limited 350 Spots

After a year’s hiatus, registration for the 2021 Cycle the Erie 8-day, 400-mile biking adventure from Buffalo to Albany is now open for a limited 350 riders © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Registration for Parks & Trails NY’s Cycle the Erie Canal 2021 opens today, April 1, at noon. The traditional eight-day, 400-mile biking adventure is returning for a 23rd year in 2021. Riders will leave Buffalo July 11 and reach Albany on July 18.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of riders, volunteers, staff, vendors, and local community members is at the forefront of  planning. With this in mind, the PTNY coordinators have made the following changes:

  • The tour is limited to 350 participants and volunteers. Be sure to register early to reserve your spot!
  • All registrations will be for the full eight-day option.
  • Non-rider drivers will not be allowed to accompany the tour this year.
  • To keep everyone safe and meet state and local COVID-19 regulations, registration fees have increased this year.
  • To register, visit ptny.org/ctec2021. Registration opens today, Thursday, April 1, at noon.

The route follows the legendary Erie Canal passing locks and aqueducts and winding through historic villages and rural farmlands.

The 400-mile journey along the legendary Erie Canal ends in Albany eight days later. Along the way, cyclists enjoy some of the finest scenery, most interesting history, and unparalleled cycling in the United States. Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day, cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now more than 85 percent complete and the east-west axis of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

Designed as a camping trip, accommodations are provided with showers, toilet facilities, some with pools or lakes for swimming; eight breakfasts and six dinners; two daily refreshment stops along the route; evening entertainment including music and historical presentations; guided tours of the Canal, historic sites, museums and other attractions including the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, Erie Canal Museum and Village, Fort Stanwix National Monument and a boat tour through the Lockport locks; kick-off reception and end-of-tour celebration; Cycle the Erie Canal t-shirt; baggage transport; SAG wagon and mobile mechanical support; daily maps and cue sheets; painted and arrowed routes; pre-departure info packet including training trips. Other amenities available (at additional fee) include fresh daily towels, gourmet morning coffee, tent and air mattress rental and set up (for those who don’t want to pitch their own tent).

The price up until June 7 is $1200/adult, $650 youth (6-17); $290 child (5 and under); shuttle is $100.

The PTNY coordinators are following the guidance from New York State, and will be prepared to follow all regulations in place in July. Registrants will be notifiedof any updates or changes. Visit New York State’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory to stay abreast of restrictions that might impact your travel plans.

Find answers to questions riders may have on the Cycle the Erie Canal FAQ page. If there are questions that aren’t covered, email  eriecanaltour@ptny.org.

See also:

Cycle the Erie: 400 Miles & 400 Years of History Flow By on Canalway Bike Tour Across New York State

Cycle the Erie, Day 1: In Lockport, See Erie Canal Engineering Marvel, ‘Flight of Five’, Cruise Thru Double Locks, and Go Underground to Fathom Rise of Industrial Revolution

Cycle the Erie, Day 2-3: A Sequence of Charming Canaltowns, Pastoral Landscapes, Punctuated by City Birthed by ‘Mother of Cities’

Cycle the Erie, Day 4: Seneca Falls to Syracuse, Crossing Halfway Mark of 400-Mile Biketour

Cycle the Erie, Day 5: Deep Dive into The Erie Canal: ‘Mother of Cities’, Empire Builder, Wonder of the World

Cycle the Erie: At Fort Stanwix, Rome, Time Travel Back to America’s Colonial, Native American Past

Cycle the Erie, Days 6-7: Erie Canal Spurs Rise of America as Global Industrial Power

Cycle the Erie, Days 7-8: Schoharie Crossing, Mabee Farm, Cohoes Falls to Finish Line in Albany of 400-Mile BikeTour

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NYS to Invest $300 Million to “Reimagine” Erie Canal, Expand Recreational Activities, Finish 750-Mile Empire State Trail

As part of the $300 million plan to “Reimagine” the Erie Canal, a 750-mile Empire State Trail will be completed, including closing gaps of Erie Canalway that makes possible the annual  eight-day, 400-mile, Cycle the Erie bike tour (registration now open) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is huge for New York State’s tourism and recreational opportunities: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s is proposing a $300 million plan to reimagine the Erie Canal by creating recreational activities on the Canal to boost tourism and recreational fishing, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation and restore wetlands. 

“When the Erie Canal was created in the 19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to prosperity, and this year we will repurpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st century needs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bold and visionary plan to transform this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail (750 miles of connected bikeways), grow tourism across Upstate New York, improve resilience of today’s Canal communities and ensure the economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”

“The canals have played a crucial role in New York’s history and growth, and with the implementation of these new exciting projects, the canals will remain a vital force and make a positive contribution to the economic well-being and quality of life in the 225 communities they travel through,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

A first phase of funding starting this year – through the New York Power Authority Board which oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary –  includes a $100 million economic development fund to invest in communities along the Canal and a separate $65 million investment in solutions that will help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the Schenectady area.

The remaining $135 million of the plan’s funding will subsequently be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutionsrelated to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration.

New Economic Development Fund for Canal Communities

In the first phase of the program, a $100 million economic development fund will support projects that adaptively reuse canal infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal’s new recreational improvements to the Governor’s Empire State Trail, celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside attractions and activities. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to a set of initial projects:

Connecting Communities: The “Brockport Loop” project in Monroe County will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trailand the village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook, with a supporting grant of $2 million from the Ralph Wilson Foundation. 

Celebrating “Iconic Infrastructure”: Interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal “movable dams” – initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk River valley – will celebrate the Canal’s heritage and its history as an engineering marvel.

Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region.

Adapting Industrial Property for New Uses: Winner of the Reimagine the Canals competition, a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison County in Central New York at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal – demonstrating a new model for 21st century canalside living.

Developing Destination Accommodations: The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a pedestrian bridge constructed across the already-existing Canal lock will provide access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river.

World-Class Fishing and Restored Wetlands 

To create world-class fishing in Western New York, the new plan recommends managing water releases from the Canal to enhance fish habitat, improve angling opportunities, and extend the fall fishing season in Lake Ontario tributaries. It also includes funding to expand public fishing access along key streams in Orleans, Monroe and Niagara Counties. In addition, it identifies a program to divert Canal water to restore and re-nourish wetlands in Central New York that were compromised a century ago by the Canal’s construction. This will allow areas in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory stopover for more than 1 million birds each year, to be significantly enhanced to further attract naturalists, locals, and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. 

Ideas in this plan originated from the Reimagine the Canals Task Force recommendations,  launched by Governor Cuomo in May of 2019 to pursue a comprehensive investigation of how the 195-year-old Erie Canal could be reimagined for the 21st century. The Reimagine the Canals Task Force Report  was just released.

The Task Force engaged with municipal leaders, stakeholders, local business owners, scientists and other experts, along with community members, to identify opportunities and solutions that support a new vision for future investments in the waterway. Many of the ideas that the Task Force explored came from the completed Reimagine the Canals competition, held last year by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, on behalf of the Task Force, conducted a series of outreach sessions during the summer in five canal communities – Lockport, Brockport, Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse – to solicit new ideas from the public at large. Ideas were also solicited on a Reimagine the Canals website, offering more distant canal users an opportunity to provide their views to the Task Force.

The “Reimagine” initiative builds on successful efforts by Governor Cuomo to invest in the canal corridor, including the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and successful Taste NY program, which have stoked new industries, businesses and housing in canal communities. Harnessing the Canal’s full potential to attract more tourism and recreation is a key focus of the Initiative. Governor Cuomo and state agency and authority staff will collaborate with Empire Line communities and continue to consult with Task Force members and other stakeholders to ensure the success of projects as they move forward. 

There are 1.6 million trips taken annually on the Erie Canal Trailway, the former towpath used by mules and horses to pull barges in the canals’ early days. The Trailway is part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail, which at 750 miles will be the largest state multi-use trail network when completed in late 2020. Governor DeWitt Clinton began work on the original Erie Canal on July 4, 1817. 

In addition to investing $300 million in the Canal System, there are also plans to create two new state parks in the Hudson Valley, add 4,000 acres of land to parks and introduce a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” bond act.

Meanwhile, registration has opened for the 22nd Annual Cycle the Erie, eight-day 400-mile, fully supported biking/camping trip, from Buffalo to Albany, operated by Parks & Trails NY, taking place July 12-19, 2020. For information on Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York, 518-434-1583, email eriecanaltour@ptny.org or visit www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal.

(See our series on Cycle the Erie, at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

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Parks & Trails NY Gets Set for 21st Annual Cycle the Erie Tour; Advocates for Trails Across NY

Parks & Trails NY is hosting the 21st annual Cycle the Erie ride, along the 360-mile scenic and historic Erie Canalway © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

One of the best bike tours on the planet is in our own backyard: the annual Parks & Trails NY Cycle the Erie Canal ride, eight-days, 400-miles and 400 years of history, from Buffalo to Albany, a fully supported biking and camping trip (you can even hire Comfy Campers to set up your tent).

The ride raises money and awareness for advocacy for new trail development and this year’s ride will highlight new trails that take the riders off the roadway – this year, cyclists will ride a new stretch west of Lockport in the town of Pendleton and a gorgeous new trail between Amsterdam and Pattersonville (so you no longer bike on the highway).  Some 550 riders are expected  this year, its 21st annual Cycle the Erie ride, taking place , July 7-14; Parks & Trails NY is still accepting registrations ($925/adult, 6-17 $545, 5-and under $280, ptny.org)

The organization’s key focus now is to build upon the state’s plan for 750-miles of off-road recreational trails – the 360-mile long Erie Canalway, plus Empire State Trail, north-south mixed-use, off-road trail system that will fully connect New York City to Canada.

The plans are already in place for the Empire State Trail to be completed by the end of 2020. In 2019, PTNY launched Trails Across New York Campaign, to build off the momentum of the Empire State Trail’s planned completion in 2020 and support ways to turn the statewide trail system into a true network, connecting local trails with the main spine of the Empire State Trail, including Long Island, “and cementing New York’s position as the nation’s leader in multi-use trails.”

Legislation is currently pending in the NYS Assembly (A. 5035B) (S.4416B has already passed the NYS Senate) would create a statewide multi-use trails plan. This important bill would direct the state to come up with a blueprint for future trails development, helping to turn our local trails across the state into a unified network of trails with major spines and connecting routes, ensuring all parts of the state have access to quality outdoor active recreation on trails.

The Senate version has already passed; the Assembly version is in Ways & Means, which directs the State Parks department to strategize and prioritize filling in the trail gaps. Though it was considered possible for the Assembly to pass its version by the June 19th close of session, if it languishes to the next session, progress will not be lost. Parks & Trails was urging people to contact their state legislator to ask them to cosponsor the legislation and to make sure that the legislation is brought up for a vote before the legislature adjourns for the year.

“Trails Across New York envisions a future in which all New Yorkers will be located only minutes from a trail and ideally will be able to access that trail easily and safely by walking or bicycling. Throughout the state, trails, bicycle boulevards, and Complete Streets will be acknowledged as essential and mainstream elements of community infrastructure, much as utility lines and sidewalks are thought of today.”

PTNY notes that New York State’s trail-rich and trail-friendly reputation will attract visitors from across the nation and abroad to experience the historic communities and varied and beautiful landscapes accessible through the state’s trail network.

Trails offer a wide range of benefits, including stimulating local economies, PTNY notes. The Erie Canalway Trail alone has an estimated annual impact of more than $250 million, and has created close to 3,500 jobs. New York’s outdoor recreation economy annually generates $41.8 billion in consumer spending and supports 313,000 jobs.

See Cycle the Erie series on goingplacesfarandnear.com:

Cycle the Erie: 400 Miles & 400 Years of History Flow By on Canalway Bike Tour Across New York State

Cycle the Erie, Day 1: In Lockport, See Erie Canal Engineering Marvel, ‘Flight of Five’, Cruise Thru Double Locks, and Go Underground to Fathom Rise of Industrial Revolution

Cycle the Erie, Day 2-3: A Sequence of Charming Canaltowns, Pastoral Landscapes, Punctuated by City Birthed by ‘Mother of Cities’

Cycle the Erie, Day 4: Seneca Falls to Syracuse, Crossing Halfway Mark of 400-Mile Biketour

Cycle the Erie, Day 5: Deep Dive into The Erie Canal: ‘Mother of Cities’, Empire Builder, Wonder of the World

Cycle the Erie: At Fort Stanwix, Rome, Time Travel Back to America’s Colonial, Native American Past

Cycle the Erie, Days 6-7: Erie Canal Spurs Rise of America as Global Industrial Power

Cycle the Erie, Days 7-8: Schoharie Crossing, Mabee Farm, Cohoes Falls to Finish Line in Albany of 400-Mile BikeTour

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NYS Proposes Completing 750-Mile Long Empire State Trail by 2020; Erie Canal Designated National Landmark

Biking the Erie Canal trail, Medina, NY. Governor Cuomo is proposing to fill the gaps in the 400-mile canalway and other greenways to create a 750-mile long network, which would be the largest state multi-use trail network in the nation © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, in his 2017 State of the State policy pronouncements, has proposed completing the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway trails by 2020 to create the Empire State Trail, the largest state multi-use trail in the nation. To achieve this, the state will develop 350 miles of new trail in three phases to create a 750-mile pathway for hiking and biking along scenic vistas and through charming, historic communities. The Empire State Trail will span much of the state, from the New York Harbor up through the Adirondack Mountains to the Canadian border – and from the shores of Lake Erie along the historic Erie Canal to the heart of the Capital Region.

“The scenic ‎natural beauty that spans every corner of this state is key to our prosperity, vital to our future and part of who we are as New Yorkers,” Governor 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.”

New York’s existing Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Erie Canalway are two of the most renowned multi-use trailways in the United States, but both trails remain unfinished with a number of gaps across the state. Currently, the Hudson River Valley Greenway is nearly 50 percent complete and crosses the Appalachian Trail, spanning over 260 miles between the Manhattan Battery and Lake George. The trail closely, and in many places parallels State Bike Route 9, which extends the Greenway an additional 130 miles along Lake Champlain to the Canadian border. The Hudson River Valley Greenway generates more than $21 million in economic impact annually from visitors stopping in communities along the trails.

The Erie Canalway is nearly 80 percent complete and runs approximately 360 miles along the storied Erie Canal, connecting Buffalo to Albany. The Governor’s commitment to complete this trail coincides with the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, as construction of the engineering marvel begin in 1817. Each year, approximately 1.5 million people use the Erie Canalway Trail along the historic Erie Canal, resulting in an estimated $253 million in economic activity from visitor spending. The Buffalo-Pendleton segment is the most heavily used part of the Canalway Trail with approximately 350,000 annual users. With this proposal, remaining gaps will be completed, connecting the two trails to establish the New York’s Empire State Trail.

Once the Empire State Trail is complete, the trails will attract more hikers, bikers, and cross country skiers than ever before and provide access to destinations, heritage areas, and historic sites and districts including:

Hudson River Valley Greenway

  • Battery Park, NYC
    · Walkway Over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie
    · Olana State Historic Site, Hudson
    · Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, Kinderhook
    · Schodack Island State Park, Schodack Landing
    · Saratoga National Battlefield, Stillwater
    · Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga


Olana, artist Frederick Edwin’s Church’s fabulous mansion, is part of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Hudson River School Art Trail © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Erie Canalway Trail

  • Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Historic Site, Buffalo
    · Buffalo State Park, Buffalo
    · The Salt Museum on Onondaga Lake, Liverpool
    · The Montezuma National Wild Refuge, Seneca Falls
    · The Great New York State Fair, Syracuse
    · Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site, Oriskany
    · Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome

This extensive trail network will enhance community connectivity and support healthy lifestyles by providing both urban and rural communities access to endless outdoor recreational opportunities. These long distance destination trails are economic drivers that can generate $1.5 – 5 million in annual economic impact for surrounding communities. Additionally, this trail network is expected to support an estimated 9.6 jobs for every $1 million invested, and every dollar will yield $3 in direct medical benefits for surrounding communities. The trails will also draw tourists from around the world to explore New York’s striking landscapes and rich history, while enjoying local bed and breakfasts, hotels, restaurants, wineries, breweries, farmsteads, and cultural attractions along the way.

Empire State Trail Website and Mobile App Launch

A new trail website and mobile app will launch to further connect New Yorkers and visitors to the state’s great outdoors. Both the website and app will feature a list of greenways, trails with hiking descriptions, and their level of difficulty. The app will allow users to find services and attractions nearby using location services with the option to share the user’s exact location with friends, or first responders, in the case of an emergency. Social sharing options will also be available, to share photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. A live tour map, walking and driving directions, are available as well as an elevation reader that lets users know when trails cross hills and mountains.

The trail system will provide travelers access to a number of signature attractions, all of which can be found on the website and mobile app, including Battery Park, Walkway Over the Hudson, Corning Preserve, Lake George, Schenectady Rivers Casino, the Erie Canal Museum, the Buffalo Naval Military Park, local breweries, and other lodging accommodations and family-friendly destinations found along the Empire State Trail.

“Parks, historic sites, and heritage areas are the very fabric of our local communities and the Empire State Trail will further connect these treasured resources with all New Yorkers, neighbors and friends,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “Governor Cuomo is rejuvenating the state park system and now with the creation of the Empire State Trail we are deepening the connection and sharing many of these wonderful treasures and all it takes is a bike ride or casual stroll.”

“New York’s natural resources are truly world class destinations and through Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the new Empire State Trail will establish important connections to offer residents and visitors even more opportunities to experience all the state has to offer,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. “I look forward to working with our partners in State Parks, to expand and enhance marketing of all the outdoor adventures one can have throughout the state, and continuing to help communities across the state capitalize on the economic potential of outdoor recreation.”

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton said, “Tens of thousands of people already use the Canal trail year-round for hiking, biking, jogging and cross-country skiing. I’m beyond thrilled that Governor Cuomo has proposed completing the trail along the entire length of the Erie Canal. Now, more people will be able to enjoy all this iconic waterway has to offer as we celebrate the canal system’s bicentennial in 2017.”

Meanwhile, the US Department of Interior has just designated New York State Barge Canal as a national historic landmark. “This massive early-twentieth century enlargement of New York’s canal system was an embodiment of a Progressive Era emphasis on public works. The New York State Barge Canal was built explicitly to counter the growing monopoly of railroad corporations over the American economy. The spine of the canal is a direct descendant of the Erie Canal, which opened the interior of North America to settlement and commercial agriculture, transforming the Atlantic economy.”

19th Annual Cycle the Erie 400-Mile Ride Returns July 9-16

Each year, Parks & Trails New York, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating and raising funds for the maintenance of New York’s trails and greenways, organizes an eight-day, 400-mile trip from one end of the Erie Canal in Buffalo, to the end, in Albany. The 19th annual Cycle the Erie Canal , is scheduled July 9-16, 2017, just in time to celebrate the beginning of the bicentennial celebration of the Canal.

Cycle the Erie riders along the canalway outside of Fairport, NY © 2017 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Join more than 650 cyclists from across the country and the world cycling and visiting iconic port towns such as Lockport and Brockport, and places rich in history such as Seneca Falls and Rome, and visit charming small towns, museums, and historic sites which collectively tell the story of America. Marvel at the natural beauty of the rolling farmland of America’s original frontier and experience 19th century engineering innovation.

The trip is supported, which means your luggage and camping gear is transported from each campsite (typically schools and recreation centers) to the next, so all you have to do is cycle from one attraction to the next. A team of SAG vehicles provides peace of mind knowing that you’ll be taken care of if you need mechanical support.

There are some updates for 2017:

  • Return shuttle: for the third consecutive year, we’ll be offering riders from Buffalo and points west our shuttle from Albany back to Buffalo at the end of the ride.
  • Erie Canal Trailblazers: Interested in cycling the whole tour for $100? Become a Cycle the Erie Canal Trailblazer and fundraise to help PTNY Close the Gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail. Registration is only $100 and includes a free Cycle the Erie Canal jersey, guidebook, and special recognition on the tour. Trailblazer registration also opens on January 3.
  • Cycle the Erie Canal Jersey: A must-have souvenir from the ride. Other merchandise options for this year’s ride include a commemorative Cycle the Erie Canal pint glass, an ECT sticker, our best-selling guidebook, and new for 2017, a Cycle the Erie Canal cap. Visit the PTNY shop for more information about these items.
  • Four-day and Weekend Options: If you don’t have the time for the entire eight-day tour, consider a shorter getaway on the Erie Canalway Trail. PTNY’s four-day and weekend options allowing you to fit the tour to your schedule. They are also great for families with kids and inexperienced riders.

See our series:

Going Places, Near & Far: Cycle the Erie Canal Tour Affords Extraordinary View of ‘Real America’

Going Places, Near & Far: Cycle the Erie Bike Tour Crosses Finish in Albany

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