NYC to Albany on the Empire State Trail

One bike, 200 miles, three apartments, two Airbnbs.

It was the story of the band of avid cyclist Bob Van Voris’s recent bike ride from New York to Albany via the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail part of the Empire State Trail. Its two-wheeled journey – which can be approached both ways for those who want to start in Albany and head south – underlines the accessibility of the massive 750-mile Empire State Trail.

“I encourage anyone who thinks about it,” said Van Voris, 58, a Bloomberg News reporter who has been cycling for years. “It was an amazing experience. I got to see a lot of the state and hope to do the Albany stage in Buffalo in the summers to come.

Van Voris predicted that his 200 mile journey would take place over two and a half days. With the right planning and the right gear on hand, he said, it can be a great weekend adventure for anyone up for the challenge. Here’s how.

Overview: what to know

Bikers cruise along Lake Whaley as the Empire State Trail traverses a section of Pawling in Dutchess County.

Bob van voris

The Empire State Trail connects New York City to Canada and Albany to Buffalo, creating the longest multi-use trail in the country. The passage of the Hudson Valley Greenway creates an artery between Albany and New York and stretches on both sides of the Hudson River, providing cyclists with an ideal vantage point to see some of the area’s most scenic towns, including Cold Spring. , Pawling, Rhinecliff, New Paltz, Tivoli, Hudson and more.

About 75 percent of the Empire State Trail routes cyclists and pedestrians off public roads and on a private trail system, making this biking challenge accessible to those who may be a bit reluctant to cycle in the area. circulation.

“The trail is very safe,” Van Voris said. “Some parts are off-road, but these sections are mostly on quiet roads.”

Amtrak and Metro-North trains serve cities between Albany and New York City, creating an effortless way to get back to your starting point after the 200 mile journey, or from intermediate points if you need to shorten the journey.

Itinerary: Where to go

Biking 200 miles from Albany to New York, or vice versa, is an achievable goal for the weekend.

Biking 200 miles from Albany to New York, or vice versa, is an achievable goal for the weekend.

Courtesy of Empire State Trail

Tackling a two-century ride is intimidating for anyone. Dividing the ride into smaller chunks helps keep the daily mileage more manageable. While Van Voris extended his trip over three days – covering 80 miles on Friday and Saturday and the last 40 on Sunday morning – a four or five day route may be more your speed for this bucket list hike.

And be sure to allow time to explore. “There are a lot of cities I haven’t been to before,” said Van Voris, who spent time in the Capitol area after his trip before returning home.

Option 1: 2 long days and 1 shorter ride (the Van Voris route)

Day 1
Northbound: New York to Pawling (80 miles)
Southbound: Albany to Catskill (40 miles)

Day 2
North: Pawling to Catskill (80 miles)
South: Catskill to Pawling (80 miles)

Day 3
Northbound: Catskill to Albany (40 miles)
South: Pawling to NYC (80 miles)

Option 2: Mileage Evenly Distributed Each Day

Day 1
Northbound: New York to Brewster (65 miles)
South: Albany to Tivoli (58 miles)

Day 2
North: Brewster to Tivoli (77 miles)
South: Tivoli to Brewster (77 miles)

Day 3
North: Tivoli to Albany (58 miles)
South: Brewster to New York (65 miles)

Return for all routes: Amtrak and Metro-North serve several cities along and near the Empire State Trail. Plan your route around Amtrak stations allow passengers to embark with bicycles. For Van Voris, his girlfriend traveled to Albany to meet him there, and then they returned to town.


Tricky parts to keep in mind

Sailing in Kingston

The only section where Van Voris struggled was in Kingston, where parts of the Empire State Trail are poorly marked, he said.

Tom Polk, a cycling educator at the YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County, explained that the Empire State Trail uses public roads in Kingston, where construction is currently underway. Once construction is complete, he thinks the signage will be clearer. For now, he suggests keeping a GPS handy.

Accommodation

Plan ahead where to stay – and know that you may need to research rather than fly away. “It was harder than expected to find hotels or Airbnbs reasonably close to the trail,” said Van Voris, who eventually found Airbnbs in Pawling and Catskill, both about four to five miles from the trail.

“I think there is an opportunity for Airbnbs, hotels and motels that are close enough to make information more readily available,” Van Voris said. “I heard this complaint from people – that it’s hard to find places.”

While he is not interested in camping himself, finding a nearby camping facility is another option that some cyclists may consider.

Preparation and packing

Bob Van Voris crosses the New Croton Reservoir Bridge in Westchester County.

Bob Van Voris crosses the New Croton Reservoir Bridge in Westchester County.

Bob van voris

Coaching

Van Voris started training in January to prepare for his double century tour in Albany in September. His diet basically consisted of riding a bike whenever he could to gain stamina. It made a long drive to the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and came back down to Brooklyn, over 60 miles in total.

“It let me know I could go 80 miles, which I haven’t done since I was much younger,” he said.

With age comes wisdom, some would say. “When I was maybe 30, I got on my bike with the idea of ​​going to Albany, mostly on 9W, but with no specific plan. I got about 100 miles north, spent the night in a roadside motel, then when I woke up I couldn’t stand up straight and had to give up the effort. So I planned a little better this time!

Refueling on the track

One of the perks of the Empire State Trail is that cyclists and hikers are never too far from a city with food or water.

Van Voris kept a handful of Clif and water bars with him on the bike for a quick replenishment, and he supplemented those snacks with stops at restaurants in towns along the trail.

Equipment

You’ll want to make sure you pack bike repair gear and familiarize yourself with its use. “I knew I could have an apartment. I wasn’t expecting three, ”Van Voris said.

As with food stops, because the Empire State Trail passes through so many cities, cyclists never risk being totally stranded if you have equipment issues.

“I’m not in the middle of nowhere,” Voris said. “You’re still in the Hudson Valley so there are a lot of great bike shops if you really find yourself in a bad spot.”

Van Voris also packed three days of clothing and portable charging gear for his electronics.

Plan your trip

The Empire State Trail website has interactive maps that detail mileage, road surface, nearby historic sites, and more.  The 12 mile stretch captured here stretches from East Kingston to Tivoli.

The Empire State Trail website has interactive maps that detail mileage, road surface, nearby historic sites, and more. The 12 mile stretch captured here stretches from East Kingston to Tivoli.

Courtesy of Empire State Trail

The Empire State Trail website breaks down each part of the trail via an interactive map that details the length of each section of the trail, how long it will likely take to cycle, what type of road surface to expect and if there is public parking nearby (good to note if a friend meets you halfway).

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