Empire State Trail Frequently Asked Questions
How hilly is the Empire State Trail?
See the elevation charts
for a visual representation of the trail's hills.
Some parts are more hilly, in particular the Champlain Valley section in northern New York. That section of the trail uses roads and highways more than the rest,
so you will experience more hills as you travel through this section of the Adirondack Mountains.
On the other hand, the Erie Canal section is mostly flat, because it mostly follows rivers and the canal. The overall elevation change is downward from Buffalo to Albany.
And the Hudson Valley section is a mix. You'll find more hills in the northern section near Albany. The southern half of this section mostly uses rail-trails, so there are long gradual changes in elevation
rather than actual hills. Heading south, Kingston to Hopewell Junction and Holmes mostly is a gradual climb, and Brewster to NYC is mostly gradual downhill. You'll find some shorter steeper hills
in places where the trail uses roads, such as Brewster and Inman/Washington Heights.
Is the Erie Canal still used?
Yes, although it is now used for recreational travel rather than shipping.
Most of the locks and moving bridges are still operational.
The canal is closed to boat traffic in the winter time.
Can I camp along the Empire State Trail?
Yes, although camping options are not spread out very evenly across all segments of the trail. The Erie Canal section has ample camping, as does most of the Champlain Valley section.
The Hudson Valley section, however (Albany to NYC), has very few camping resources.
Check out this web page for a full discussion: Camping along the Empire State Trail
What is the fastest known time for NYC to Buffalo?
In May of 2021, Ken Burke of Buffalo completed the Empire State Trail from Battery Park in NYC to Buffalo on foot
- 565 miles - in an astonishing 11 days 16 hours and 35 minutes
That's 11 consecutive days, running an average of over 50 miles per day! Even more amazing:
- Ken's run was fully self-supported
- Ken is a recent kidney donor
- A few years ago, Ken's leg was shattered and he was told he'd never run again
Check out this web page with more photos and details of Ken Burke's 565 mile run from NYC to Buffalo
Are electric bikes (e-bikes) allowed on the trail?
Yes, e-bikes are allowed on the trail.
Can I ride the trail at night?
No, the trail is only open from dawn to dusk.
Are pets allowed on the trail?
Yes, leashed dogs are allowed. Please pick up after your pet and be aware of approaching cyclists so you can keep the leash at an appropriate length.
The cyclist and your pet could be seriously injured by a "clothesline" incident.
Are horses allowed on the trail?
A few sections of trail are open to equestrian use:
- Between Syracuse and Rome, which is the trail section designated as Old Erie Canal Historic State Park
- Between Kingston and Poughkeepsie, and continuing south beyond Poughkeepsie on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail
Where can I rent a bike?
Can I take the train?
Amtrak is a useful way to get between certain points on the trail by train. In general, you need to reserve a bike space in advance, and arrive 30 minutes early.
There is a surcharge for bikes.
Be sure to read Amtrak's Guide to traveling with your bike
for full details and instructions.
Amtrak's Empire Service
route covers the Buffalo-Albany-NYC portion of the Empire State Trail.
The Adirondack route
runs from Albany to Rouse's Point near the Canadian border, along the Champlain Valley portion of the Empire State Trail.
Amtrak stations are located at:
What should I bring on my bike ride?
For a one-day trip, here are some suggestions:
- Plenty of water
- Maps, and/or screen printouts from BikeEmpireState.com for the trail sections you'll be riding
- Cell phone
- Bike repair tools
- Spare inner tubes or patch kit
- Pump or compressed air
- Insect repellant
- Tissues / toilet paper (don't count on the trailhead restrooms being stocked)
- Cash, credit cards
- More water
For a multi-day trip, you'll need more stuff - maybe a lot
more, depending on how long you'll be riding
and how self-sufficient you plan to be
(not to mention the fact that you'll need a trailer or panniers to hold everything).
How do I get my business listed on BikeEmpireState.com/BikeErieCanal.com?
If your business is on or near the Empire State Trail, and of interest to trail users, please let us know.
We only list bike shops, camping, lodging, and points of interest on BikeEmpireState.com.
We are not able to list restaurants, ATMs, and grocery/convenience stores due to the size of towns and number of options along the trail.
However, on BikeErieCanal.com we also list these additional types of services for the Erie Canalway portion of the trail system.
Please visit the Contact Us
to share your details with us.
I spotted an error on the site. How can I report it?
Mistakes happen, and we appreciate your help in keeping the site 100% accurate (so do future visitors to the site!).
Please contact BikeEmpireState.com
with details of the error, and we'll fix it ASAP.