Trails Across New York
n response to efforts by Parks & Trails New York and other advocates to close the gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail and finish the Hudson River Valley Greenway, in 2017 the state announced a proposal for a 750-mile multi-use Empire State Trail to be complete by the end of 2020. Parks & Trails New York led a dedicated group of trail enthusiasts and advocates in support of the proposal, building off a legacy of work to close the gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail and support trail development in other parts of the state. The legislature approved the $200 million Empire State Trail, and work began immediately to link New York City with Canada through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys, and Albany with Buffalo via the Erie Canalway Trail. The project was completed on time, and communities across the state are enjoying newly constructed and improved stretches of trail and the connections made possible by the state’s trail network are growing at a rapid pace.
Over the past three years, this initiative has sparked a larger conversation about the value of a truly interconnected trail network that allows users to safely and easily travel throughout the state, while enhancing access to outdoor recreation and heritage tourism opportunities, parks, historic sites, and cultural amenities. These conversations have helped shape public policy by highlighting the importance of future trail planning efforts beyond the Empire State Trail based on user needs and trends.
In 2021, New York State released its first ever Statewide Greenways Plan as a result of PTNY’s advocacy efforts. This plan establishes a clear vision to guide future planning efforts and lays out a roadmap for the future growth of the state’s greenway trail network. Now, trail planners and community advocates need to be provided with the resources necessary to continue the expansion of the state’s trail network, allowing for all New Yorkers to enjoy opportunities for safe, outdoor active transportation and recreation close to their homes.
- Build additional connections between the Empire State Trail and regional trail networks, guaranteeing every New York State resident access to a trail within a short distance of their home
- Prioritize development in communities and regions that are not connected to the Empire State Trail and that remain underserved by trails
- Establish a dedicated funding source for the construction of new trails, maintenance and enhancements of existing trail corridors, and pursuance of land acquisition opportunities to connect existing segments
- Ensure the Statewide Greenways Plan becomes a driving force for future planning efforts, implementing a comprehensive vision for the future of the state's multi-use trail network
- Ensure that amenities (including bicycle fix-it stations, water, sunscreen, and public restrooms) are regularly accessible along trails to meet the needs of users of all ages and abilities
Dedicate state funding to New York’s greenway trails network
Create a dedicated funding source for the construction of new trails and the major renovation of existing trails, either as part of existing state funding programs or through a new funding source modeled on successful trail funding programs from other states.
Encourage trail development by clarifying the state’s Recreational Use Statute
Support S.1932 - Ritchie/A.201 - Gunther and S.678 - Harckham/A.2016 - Barrett to amend the Recreational Use Statute to cover all recreational activities and protect property owners who allow use of their land for trail purposes.
Streamline regulations to facilitate greenway trail development
Undertake a comprehensive review of land acquisition, planning, and construction regulations to streamline the process and reduce the costs and complexities of developing new greenway trails.
Incentivize the use of private lands for important greenway trail connections
Provide a property tax credit to landowners who provide access across their land as part of connecting greenway trail networks.
Strengthen state railbanking law to preserve corridors for greenway trails
Explore amending Section 18 of the state’s Transportation Law to ensure that abandoned rail corridors are preserved for future use as greenway trails.