In 1991 the Hudson River Valley Greenway was created in part to establish a network of multi-use trails along both sides of the Hudson River. Today the Greenway is working to create a system of trails from the northern borders Saratoga and Washington counties to Manhattan. The Hudson River Greenway Trail System consists of two main components: a land trail and a water trail for paddling and boating. A major route included in the land trail is Bike Route 9, a North-South on-road bicycling trail.
On December 31, 2020, the Empire State Trail was completed, now the nation's longest multi-use state trail. The trail spans 750-miles, from New York City through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys to Canada, and from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal. The trail is composed off mainly off-road segments, 75 percent statewide, and 85 percent in the Hudson Valley, with the rest being on-road. The off-road segments are ideal for cyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers and snow-shoers. The new recreational trail provides a safe and scenic pathway for New Yorkers and tourists to experience New York State's varied landscapes. The Empire State Trail is expected to draw 8.6 million residents and tourists annually.
The completion of the Empire State Trail coincides with the completion of a single interconnected Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail route from Battery Park in Manhattan to Whitehall in Washington County. The Hudson River Greenway Trail is the culmination of decades of work by dozens of organizations, municipalities, and volunteers throughout the Hudson Valley. It is the realization of a vision developed by Greenway authors Maurice D. Hinchey, Barnabas McHenry and Steven Saland, and enacted into law by then-Governor Mario M. Cuomo. The Greenway deeply appreciates and thanks all of those who worked so hard developing the trail from 1991 to the present.
The Hudson Valley Greenway Trail System will continue to grow, adding new segments which will connect to the Empire State Trail, increase the recreational opportunities in communities throughout the Hudson Valley, and serve as a source of pride for all Hudson Valley residents.
A 256-mile paddler's dream, extending from northern Saratoga County in the Adirondack Park and northern Washington County at the head of Lake Champlain, to Battery Park in Manhattan.
The Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET) is a 36-mile multi-use trail running from Hudson to Rensselaer and is a major component of Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail. AHET connects to the Corning Preserve Trail to the north and to on-road trails in the City of Hudson to the south. The Greenway built and operates AHET, which opened in 2020 as part of the Empire State Trail.
In 1991, the New York State Legislature passed, and Governor Mario M. Cuomo signed into law landmark legislation that established a Hudson River Valley Greenway. One part of that legislation directed the Greenway to designate and develop a regional network of trails, the Hudson River Greenway Trail system as well as a route from Battery Park in Manhattan to the northern limits of the Greenway, now in Whitehall.
Since 1991 the Greenway has assisted communities and trail groups throughout the Hudson Valley in the establishment of a diverse network of trails that connect resources such as riverfront parks, historic sites, nature preserves, schools, residential areas, train stations, and city/village business districts, as well as providing public access to the Hudson River. The Greenway Trail Program encourages trail advocates to identify and develop opportunities for such access and to integrate them into the unique fabric of their community through broader trail connections to other local destinations and regionally significant sites in the surrounding countryside. Through the variety of destinations it links and landscapes it traverses, the Greenway Trail System reinforces a sense of place for Hudson Valley residents and visitors. Tying communities and their local resources closer to the region’s significant resources through trails is an important way to build support for protection and stewardship of those resources.
Starting in 1994 the Greenway also began to develop a world-class Water Trail, which would go on to be designated as one of the first National Water Trails in 2012. The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail is a 256-mile paddler’s dream, extending from the Adirondack Park and Lake Champlain to Battery Park in Manhattan.
Building on previous trail plans, in 2004, the Greenway released the Greenway Trail Vision Plan, following months of stakeholder engagement and careful study to identify potential new trail segments along a continuous Greenway Trail. The ideas generated by this report helped guide the Greenway and its partners over the next decade.
In 2016, the Greenway commissioned a study of the route from Manhattan to Saratoga and Washington Counties, using existing, proposed, and potential Greenway trails. The Hudson River Valley Trail Connections Study identified likely connections that would complete the trunk line north/south Greenway Trail route and created a blueprint for filling gaps to achieve the vision of the Greenway Trail. Since the time of the Trail Vision Plan, the success of projects like Walkway Over the Hudson and trail groups throughout the Valley planning and building trails made clear the power of trails as an economic driver.
The results of this Valley-wide effort showed that a continuous Hudson Valley Greenway Trail was well within reach. Building on existing trail corridors and river crossings, the trail would zig-zag through Hudson River Valley connecting communities and open spaces. Even more exciting was the identification of a State-wide trail, when the Hudson Valley portion was connected to the developing Erie Canalway Trail and existing bicycle routes in the upper Champlain Valley. This would truly be a world-class multi-use trail.
In his 2017 State of the State Address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Empire State Trail initiative. This ambitious proposal would complete 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 would 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 Greenway would be the agency leading this charge, working closely with other agencies and organizations, including NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, NYS Department of Transportation, NYS Thruway Authority, NYS Bridge Authority, NYS Canal Corporation, and many others.