Click on the Frequently Asked Questions below for additional information about the Empire State Trail.
Frequently Asked Questions
New York State has created a large-format printed Empire State Trail map. You can order a free copy using this “Order Map” link.
The non-profit group Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) sells an excellent printed “Cycle the Erie” guidebook on their website, which covers the trail from Buffalo to Albany (see https://www.ptny.org/publications/cycling-guidebooks/cycling-the-erie-canal).
New York State and PTNY are developing a companion “Cycle the Hudson and Champlain Trail” Guidebook, covering the Empire State Trail from New York City to Albany to the Canada Border, which will be available for purchase on PTNY’s website in spring 2022.
A diverse variety of overnight accommodations are available along the Empire State Trail route. NYS has identified hundreds of hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, resorts, and other lodging options trail users can access within five miles of the trail. Information is available on the Overnight Lodging page in the Trip Planning section of this website.
A number of public and private campgrounds are located within five miles of the trail route. Information is available on the Camping page in the Trip Planning section of this website.
Consistent with other types of trails, long stretches of the trail do not have restrooms. Restrooms and porta-johns are sometimes (but often not) available at parking areas. Facilities are available at many convenience and retail stores in communities near the trail.
You can download a GPX file of the statewide Empire State Trail route by clicking here (file will download as a ZIP folder).
You can download a KMZ file of the statewide Empire State Trail route by clicking here (file will download as a ZIP folder).
To install either file check with your GPS manufacturer for detailed instructions particular to your GPS. Once you have installed the files look in your Tracks or Paths menu for files named Champlain Valley, Hudson Valley, Hudson Valley 001, Hudson Valley 002, Hudson Valley 003, Erie Canal, Erie Canal (East), Erie Canal (West), Erie Canal 001, Erie Canal 002, Erie Canal 003, and Erie Canal 004. In order to view these on your GPS you may need to take the additional steps outlined below.
Go to your Tracks menu on your GPS and make sure the attributes for each file are set to Show On Map. You may also need to change the track's line color to make it stand out from the background, depending on what map you have on your GPS.
On the online EST map, on-road route sections are depicted in yellow. Formal protected/marked bicycle lanes exist in very few locations. On-road sections are intended for experienced bicyclists comfortable riding on road shoulders, adjacent to motor vehicles. On-road sections range from paved road shoulders on high-traffic state roadways, to rural roads with low traffic and no pavement striping.
All types of bicycles – including mountain bikes, recreational and hybrid bikes, and traditional road bikes – can be ridden on stonedust trails. Having said this, some people who ride road bikes with narrow, high-pressure tires prefer paved asphalt rather than stonedust. On the online map, stonedust trails are designated as dashed green sections. Stonedust, which is finely ground, compacted limestone, can be dusty when dry and has slightly higher rolling resistance than paved asphalt.
Clicking this link opens our map page, select "Get Routes & Distance" to allow you to calculate distances between major cities and villages on the Empire State Trail route.
Recreational bicyclists on multi-day trips typically cover between 30 and 50 miles per day, which leaves time to stop at attractions along the route - but it's up to you how far/fast you want to ride.
There are significant sections of the Empire State Trail where no lodging or visitor services are available on the route. As such, virtually all multi-day trail users are bicyclists, allowing them to cover longer distances and access services located in communities several miles off the trail. Certainly it would be possible to complete a long-distance hike along the trail, but it would be challenging - you’d need to carefully plan your trip to avoid being stranded away from food, water, and overnight lodging.
NYS enacted E-Bike legislation in 2020. The state law bans Class 3 E-Bikes on trails.
Decisions on whether to allow Class 1 and Class 2 E-Bikes on trails are set by the state or local government entity that owns a particular off-road trail section. Rules regarding the Empire State Trail are evolving. New York State Parks and the NYS Canal Corporation, which administer large sections of the Erie Canalway Trail and Champlain Canalway Trail, have adopted policies allowing Class 1 and 2 E-Bikes. In addition, Class 1 and 2 E-Bikes are allowed on the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail section of the EST in Rensselaer and Columbia Counties.
To date, the only off-road Empire State Trail section where E-Bikes are explicitly prohibited is in New York City (E-Bikes are prohibited on bicycle trails in Manhattan and the Bronx).
In addition, while Class 1 “pedal assist” E-Bikes are allowed on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail section from New Paltz to Kingston in Ulster County; Class 2 E-Bikes are prohibited on the WVRT trail.
The remainder of the Empire State Trail is administered by counties and local governments, which own specific sections (e.g. the Westchester County Trail, Dutchess Rail Trail, etc.). To date most have not adopted formal policies, meaning E-Bikes are neither explicitly allowed nor prohibited on those trail sections.
Most state agencies and local governments consider two-wheeled E-Scooters to be motorized equipment and prohibit their use on off-road sections of the Empire State Trail.
Yes, all off-road EST sections are 8 to 10-feet wide with an improved surface and gentle grades, making them accessible to trail users of all abilities. All trail segments and designated parking areas conform with American With Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
New York State does not maintain a listing of private businesses that rent bicycles – Please search the internet for more information.
The non-profit group Parks & Trails New York hosts 700+ riders on an 8-day, 400-mile supported bicycle ride from Buffalo to Albany every July (information is available on PTNY’s website: https://www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal/annual-bike-tour).
In addition, several for-profit small businesses offer supported bicycle tours in New York State. You can find information through an internet search for “Empire State Trail bicycle tours”.