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.
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 Empire State Trail is accessible to walkers of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels – children to seniors, families and friends out for a slow stroll, parents pushing strollers, longer-distance hikers, and joggers and runners. The trail is accessible to people with mobility challenges and meets Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards.
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, which are identified on the trail maps on this website, are intended for visitors comfortable walking or bicycling adjacent to motor vehicle traffic.