Most of the Empire State Trail route follows “rail-trails,” which are repurposed historic railroad beds, and “Canalway trails” built adjacent to sections of the Erie and Champlain Canals. These trails are generally flat, with little change in elevation.
The trail welcomes bicyclists of all ages and abilities, from experienced long-distance riders, to casual slower paced bicyclists, to children with training wheels learning to ride for the first time. The trail is accessible to people with mobility challenges and meets Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards.
Off-road Empire State Trail sections are 10-12 feet wide with a paved asphalt or stonedust surface (stonedust is compacted, finely-ground material that provides a stable trail surface). The stonedust sections, which are identified on the maps on this website, support all types of bicycles – however some people who ride road bikes with narrow, high pressure tires prefer not to ride on stonedust.
Note: Although most of the Empire State Trail route is off-road trail, some sections are designated on the shoulders of public roadways. The on-road sections, identified on the trail maps on this website, are intended for experienced bicyclists comfortable riding adjacent to motor vehicle traffic. In particular, the 110-mile trail route through the Champlain Valley, from Whitehall north to the Canada border at Rouses Point, is an on-road bicycle route.
Additional Amtrak Information
Amtrak train stations are located in 20 cities and villages along the statewide Empire State Trail route. Train station locations are identified on the trail map. Some Amtrak trains allow bicycles to be wheeled right onto passenger cars for storage in special racks, for a small extra fee (bicycle transport can be reserved; there is limited bike capacity on each train). Please be aware other Amtrak trains require bicycles to be boxed and shipped in a baggage car. Detailed information about shipping bicycles is available on Amtrak’s website at: https://www.amtrak.com/bring-your-bicycle-onboard