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The Empire State Trail - Completed Report

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The Empire State Trail - Completed Report

Old 05-10-21, 04:52 PM
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PedalingWalrus
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Trip Report - The Empire State Trail - Completed

Hi Folks,

We have just returned from our vacation touring the Empire State Trail.

We started in Buffalo on Friday April 30th and finished May 10th
All in all we biked 10 days and 613 miles, 3 days without rain, 6 nights in a motel, 4 nights camping. As bad as it may sound I have to say that the rain was not bad on biking. We had a great time every day of the trip. Feel free to ask any questions and I will gladly answer.

Here are a few photos
This is mile 0 in Buffalo

Mile 0 in Buffalo. Start of Empire State Trail (to NYC and also Erie Canal Trail to Albany)

Freedom Bridge to Canada ;-) shortly after this Gill had his first flat tire

Gil's second flat of the day somewhere between Buffalo and Tonawanda

Third flat tire of the day somewhere past Tonawanda

Great coffee shop in Lockport, right on the trail

Water break in Gasport

Day 2 - These two tourers from Boston were doing the Erie Canal Trail from Buffalo to Albany

Day 2 - water break near Rochester, NY

Good camping at lock 30

Day 3 - the dry dock in Lyons, NY is fantastic

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Old 05-10-21, 04:57 PM
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Great camping at lock 20. Recommended!

Day 4 in Syracuse

Day 5 - one of the funky towns along the way - Canajoharie

This cool couple was doing credit car touring and inspired us to push for extra miles to stay at the Amsterdam Castle

The Amsterdam Castle - quite surreal from previous night of camping ;-)

Day 6 - these 3 dudes were biking from Boston to California to attend a wedding. We wanted to turn around and go with them :-)
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Old 05-10-21, 05:00 PM
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two of our touring buddies joined us halfway to Troy, NY for a wet ride. All was forgotten after lovely tea and food at the Whistling Kettle in Troy

Day 7 - we reached Albany in the morning and thus completed the Erie Canal Trail. We continued the day to Germantown for a lovely camping at Gatherwild Farm

Day 8 - great bakery at Tivoli, NY

Day 9 - Walkway over the Hudson - sweet pedestrian bridge

Day 10 - Mario Cuomo Bridge - great cycle path

Finish at Battery Park, Manhattan - great trip!
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Old 05-11-21, 05:37 PM
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Nice!
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Old 05-11-21, 08:48 PM
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How is it getting through Syracuse? We're taking the kids on this ride in Aug and Syr worries me. We've previously ridden from Weedsport to Camilius with them but at that time the trail ended and there was only street through most of the city which I wouldn't do then and still wouldn't seeing as they're 6,8, and 10 and I have a low opinion of Syracuse and its drivers.
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Old 05-12-21, 07:21 AM
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Syracuse was by far the best city cycling experience of this trip. They spent some money on bike lanes ! We felt safe all the way


Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
How is it getting through Syracuse? We're taking the kids on this ride in Aug and Syr worries me. We've previously ridden from Weedsport to Camilius with them but at that time the trail ended and there was only street through most of the city which I wouldn't do then and still wouldn't seeing as they're 6,8, and 10 and I have a low opinion of Syracuse and its drivers.
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Old 05-20-21, 03:42 PM
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Thanks for the trip report, you made that area enticing, I will be looking into touring there. I might be sending you some questions soon.
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Old 05-20-21, 05:16 PM
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Please do






Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
Thanks for the trip report, you made that area enticing, I will be looking into touring there. I might be sending you some questions soon.
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Old 05-22-21, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Please do
Allright Mr Walrus, here comes the first few:
1) Camping between NYC to Albany = none. Is this correct?

2) Empire trail map: hard to find mileage along the map. One needs to go to individual sections to unearth a lot of info (parks, camp, mileage etc). I like finding mileage on the entire map.

3) Distance seems to vary significantly from Buffalo to NYC. I am seeing 500 to 660 miles (ridewithgps, trip reports, tour leaders etc). Many cyclists ride around town so this might be the discrepancy.

Things I have found:
A lot of beta on this site: https://empiretrail.ny.gov/ though I am not in love with their map.
One-way plane fare to Buffalo (from Maryland) $200, then take a train/bus from NYC back to Baltimore
Camping varies a lot along the trail. Seems most places are RV /camp spots and not state parks though some do exist.
The castle looks pretty cool B&B might be a good way to go, still need to research this.
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Old 05-24-21, 04:28 AM
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If you are kept a journal of your trip, and are interested, your ride would make a great tour posting on CycleBlaze.

I put a posting over there steering folks to your excellent posting here.
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Old 05-24-21, 06:36 AM
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Great post and really timely for me, heading to Buffalo in about 4 weeks. Unfortunately, we only have time to do Buffalo to Albany. Goofy question - where did you park in Buffalo? It seems the best place is the Depew Amtrak station but there's no obvious route from there to intercepting the trail. Thanks!
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Old 05-24-21, 06:47 AM
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Hi Mr and Mrs PW, thanks for the report and photos. Once border and covid stuff is sorted, I'd like to do Montreal to New York, and the top of this trail at rouses point, ny, is about 100k from here. Went three when i did Montreal to Boston years back. Would have to figure out how to get back from ny but there would be options.

hey, what was up with your friends three flats? That was weird, and must have been annoying.
cheers
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Old 05-24-21, 06:57 AM
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CAMPING: I would say that, practically, there are very few worthy commercial campgrounds from Albany to NYC. There are a few exceptions, however, so I encourage You to google maps search the vicinity you're in as the search picks up other forms of camping such as the canvas tent glamping spots. Also try hipcamp app and similar apps that try hard :-)

On the first day from Albany we were approaching Catskills and my friend found a farm that advertised glamping spots. He called them and they were not open yet but were willing, for a reasonable fee, to let us camp and use the outdoor shower.

Also, there ARE tons of spots that would be great for stealth camping. So unofficially, at the end of the day you can disappear and find a decent spot out of the view and leave early in the morning without anyone popping a vein. If You are comfortable with stealth camping then You can camp all the way to before You reach Manhattan.

There are also a few hostel spots along the way if You are comfortable with that in the age of covid. After vaccination I would be comfortable renting a room at a hostel but not yet getting a bunkbed in a common room.

We met two bike tourers along the way, I think the guy's name was Dale. Seasoned bike tourer IMHO. They camped all the way from NYC without issues.

MAP:
Here is the route I took.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35370190

It was a combination of the official route and some local advice about current state of trail.
The final stretch to Manhattan strayed from the Empire Trail due to (alleged construction). The detour was pleasant but hilly and hindsight I would have continued through Bronx to please my OCD.

DISTANCE
I counted 613 miles ridden from my Strava account

I think the stated 700 plus mileage includes the section from Lake Champlain to Cohoes. I plan to ride that, hopefully soon.
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Old 05-24-21, 01:55 PM
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Many years ago we did a week long supported trip with Velo Quebec, from lake George back into Canada. I see on the trail map that the upper section is shared road sections, and I'm sure that we did a lot of the same route, parts anyway. Nice going along lake Champlain.
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Old 05-25-21, 05:18 AM
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arsprod We did a one way rental to get to the start of the trail in Buffalo and then one way rental to drive home from NYC
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Old 05-25-21, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
arsprod We did a one way rental to get to the start of the trail in Buffalo and then one way rental to drive home from NYC
That was smart! Unfortunately, rentals are stupid expensive right now.
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Old 05-25-21, 03:12 PM
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Transportation looks doable from Baltimore. SW air ($200) one way to Buffalo. Amtrak to Baltimore, ~$100. No car tour, sweet!

FWIW: I am not opposed to stealth camping, but do like a shower once in awhile. I can always B&B it if necessary. Hostels, hmmm. Used to love them, not certain these days but will check them out. Looks like a plethora of stealth camping just south of the Daks.

Thanks for the ridewithgps map!! Appreciate you sharing with me/us.
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Old 05-26-21, 06:09 AM
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Comfort inn and suites was excellent https://goo.gl/maps/qsawC3ioW52uF5tF7


Inn at Arbor Ridge https://goo.gl/maps/1RAVZ6fuXcCmwDAF8 - not so much
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Old 05-27-21, 02:25 PM
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Tandem Touring

Hey, first time looking at this part of the forum and bam! A tandem on tour is the first photo I see. My partner and I mostly ride tandem. This helps equalize our bike riding. We have thought about giving touring on the tandem a try, but I've been wondering if there would be enough places to attach gear for two people on the bike.

We don't have to get in to all the details here, just wondering what the tandem couple's basic strategy was. Thanks.
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Old 05-27-21, 02:32 PM
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Tandem Touring

Hey, first time looking at this part of the forum. I was attracted to your post because I've been curious and the Empire State Trail. First of all, great photos and trip report. And what is the first photo I see? A tandem on tour! My partner and I mostly ride tandem. This helps equalize our bike riding. We have thought about giving touring on the tandem a try, but I've been wondering if there would be enough places to attach camping gear and such for two people on the bike.

We don't have to get in to all the details here, just wondering what the tandem couple's basic strategy was. Thanks.
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Old 05-27-21, 02:34 PM
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Tandem Touring

Hey, first time looking at this part of the forum. I was attracted to your post because I've been curious and the Empire State Trail. First of all, great photos and trip report. And what is the first photo I see? A tandem on tour! My partner and I mostly ride tandem. This helps equalize our bike riding. We have thought about giving touring on the tandem a try, but I've been wondering if there would be enough places to attach camping gear and such for two people on the bike.

We don't have to get in to all the details here, just wondering what the tandem couple's basic strategy was. Thanks.
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Old 05-27-21, 03:17 PM
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for us it is one pannier for tent, matts and sleeping bags, one pannier for cooking and food (sort of), then each of us gets a pannier for clothes (so that is 4 panniers)

then handlebar bag and a saddle bag will store crap like electronics and other accessories. Honestly if we were completely diligent we could lose the rear saddle bag completely and bring smaller handlebar bag and still get by just fine.
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Old 05-27-21, 06:36 PM
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Sounds pretty doable. I'm a longtime backpacker so I get the basic strategy. It's always a challenge to watch the slowly creeping accrument of 'stuff.' Thanks!
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Old 05-29-21, 08:14 AM
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A bit of recon

This week I took my first road trip in about 2 years, because of what-cha-callit. Sort of a hub and spoke tour but I move the hub every day. Drive 2 hours, cycle a few hours, drive another 2 hours, cycle...... The first day was riding the new Maybrook Trail from Brewster to Hopewell Junction, NY - a pretty new trail, now part of the Empire State system. As expected it was pretty nice - fresh pavement mostly through the woods and past wetlands, ponds and lakes. It appears that the corridor has two sets of tracks and one has been removed for the trail while the other, unused and disabled, line is mostly still there. Some sections have weeds and conifers growing between the rails so the line has been unused for many years. It is also a line built for 40" rolling stock so the straights are as long as possible and the curves are gentle.




I parked in Brewster at the Southeast Town Park which is a mile or so from the very southern end. My antiquated odo read 23 miles when I reached Hopewell Junction and the seamless connection to the Dutchess Rail Trail. BTW: the very southern end of the Maybrook is a old rail overpass. There is a flight of stairs going from road level up to the trail. No parking at that very end and no at grade access.

When I set out going north I felt tired, like I was dragging a brick. I did not realize that the "level trail" was, actually up grade. Around half way to HJ is a info plaque that shows an elevation profile. The Maybrook northbound is up grade for about 1/3 of the way, crosses the Appalachian divide then down grade to HJ. Somewhere north of Holmes the trail flattens then goes down grade, past Whaley Lake then on to HJ. There once was a sign "Reynolds" that marked the high point but I did not see it. May no longer be there.

A very pleasant trip in perfect weather. I prefer early 1800's rail trails that twist and wind more (due to design for shorter rolling stock) but the Maybrook is pretty nice and being well used, even on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.
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Old 06-02-21, 08:48 AM
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Map and guide for Buffalo/Albany section, "Cycling the Erie Canal". published by Parks and Trails, New York.
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