Spending time connecting with nature is a priority for many people, and outdoor activities continue to grow in popularity in these technological times. The number of people who went backpacking or hiking within a 12-month span increased by 8.82 million from 2008 to 2014, amounting to a total of at least 38.05 million individuals who now participate in these hobbies.
While the state of some of the nation’s most stunning public parks is being held in limbo, Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking steps to ensure that the people of New York state can enjoy nature’s beauty.
Cuomo recently announced his plan to build a trail for hiking and biking that will span the entire state of New York. The Empire State Trail will run from Manhattan all the way up to Canada. It will also echo the route of the Erie Canal by connecting Albany to Buffalo.
Essentially, the trail will finally complete two existing trails: the Hudson River Valley Greenway and the Erie Canalway. All told, 40 smaller pathways will be connected by the Empire State Trail, and New York state will invest around $200 million to complete the 750-mile super trail. The overarching goal is to increase tourism in many parts of the state.
Because 48% of Americans surveyed by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association said they were more concerned about traveling now than they had been in the past, this unconventional option may get New Yorkers to explore their own state — and spend some money — in a whole new way.
“It would change the economic activity throughout the state,” said Cuomo. “The Empire State Trail, once completed, will be the nation’s largest state multi-use trail network, providing residents and visitors alike unprecedented access to New York’s outdoor treasures, driving tourism and economic activity to communities across the state and helping to protect our environmental resources for generations to come.”
Cuomo hopes that additional improvements to the heritage sites that appear along these trails — such as Fort Ticonderoga, Buffalo State Park, and The Montezuma National Wild Refuge — will be an even bigger draw for tourists. The governor will ask that $53 million of New York State’s total budget be reserved for these improvements.
The project will even have its own mobile app, connecting travelers to historic sites and districts, as well as local shops and restaurants. In addition to bringing new visitors to the region, officials are optimistic that this trail network will promote a sense of community and encourage healthy lifestyles in both rural and urban areas by providing easier access to outdoor recreation.
The completion of The Empire Trail is set tentatively for the year 2020.