Empire State Trail: Winter Hikes

Winter Hikes across New York
on the Empire State Trail
Manhattan Greenway Trail at Hudson View Park

Distance from Moynihan Train Hall: 3.7 miles to The Battery

Ready to hike, but not looking to travel too far? The Manhattan Greenway Trail is the perfect destination for city residents who want to stay close to home or for anyone who prefers urban trails. Strolling through the city may not provide you with mountain views, but it surely has its perks. This trail is the first segment of the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail. The trail takes hikers on a walk along the beautiful Hudson River. Starting at The Battery, hikers can begin wherever they want on the trail.  It’s easy to forget New York’s natural environment when living in the concrete jungle, but the Greenway Trail will be sure to remind anyone that Manhattan has its own natural beauties, especially in the winter. 

William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail
Walkway Over the Hudson

Distance from Poughkeepsie Station (POU): 0.9 miles to Walkway Over the Hudson

Taking taking Amtrak to the  Poughkeepsie Station provides hikers with access to two trails. The Walkway Over the Hudson is an attraction within itself that connects two trails with the Empire State Trail. On the Dutchess County side of the Walkway Over the Hudson, hikers can complete the 13.5-mile William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail. Hikers will be able to experience both the beautiful winter scenery of the Hudson River and a wooded winter wonderland. Any unplowed section of the Dutchess Rail Trail is available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. 

Hudson Valley Rail Trail
Hudson Valley Rail Trail

Distance from Poughkeepsie Station (POU): 0.9 miles to Walkway Over the Hudson

On the other side of the Walkway Over the Hudson is the Hudson Valley Rail Trail; hikers can take Amtrak to the  Poughkeepsie Station. For this trail, hikers should take the opposite side of the Walkway. The Hudson Valley Rail Trail takes hikers from Lloyd to New Paltz on a 9-mile hike. . Typically, completion of this trail takes around three to five hours on foot and one hour by bicycle in the warmer months. In the winter months, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available as well.  If you forget to pack a lunch on the trail, there is a variety of eateries along the way.

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail

Distance from Poughkeepsie Station (POU): 11 miles to Water Street Market

Once you’ve reached the end of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, you’ll find the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. This trail is easily accessible while visiting the groovy village of New Paltz, and takes hikers through to Rosendale. Just like the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, you’ll find plenty of things to do and places to eat while on your hike. While hiking through, you’ll notice gorgeous scenery and a potentially familiar attraction. The Springtown Truss Bridge, a bridge famously featured in the popular film, “A Quiet Place,” starring John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, can be seen and hiked along the way. Once entering Rosendale, you’ll cross the Rosendale Railroad Trestle which offers views of the Rondout Creek below. Similar to New Paltz, Rosendale is home to several eateries and businesses that can provide a cozy escape from the cold.

Albany-Hudson Electric Trail
Albany Hudson Electric Trail

Distance from Hudson Station (HUD): 2.6 miles from Lorenz Park.

Heading further upstate? The Albany-Hudson Electric Trail is a perfectly accessible traveling option beginning in Hudson. The history of this trail dates back to 1899 when a trolley began running along the trail. From Hudson to Albany, or vice versa, the trail stretches 36 miles. For visitors who are looking to complete the entirety of the trail, there are multiple locations to spend a night or weekend. Hikers opting for a shorter hike can walk the 11 miles from Hudson to Kinderhook, which should take approximately four to six hours.  Like to hike with your furry friend? Bring your leashed dog along with you while you walk the trail.

In the winter, the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail will remain unplowed, which makes this trip the perfect opportunity to break out your snowshoes, snowmobile and cross-country skis. Be sure to check out American Glory BBQ in Hudson, NY to satisfy your hunger before or after your hike. For lodging, Wm. Farmer and Sons is a great resting place to visit off of the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail.

Empire State Trail

Distance from Syracuse Station (SYR): 3.3 miles to the beginning of the trail on Wallace Street.

Playing the role of a connector between the Erie Canalway Trail, the Syracuse section of this trail shares the name of the Empire State Trail. This portion of the trail is a great option for hikers looking for something quick and easy. The Syracuse portion of the Empire State Trail is all on road and paved. This Syracuse to Dewitt section is only six miles. If you’re someone who can’t bear the cold for too long, this six-mile hike is a great way to get out of the house and exercise without needing to commit to a lengthy hike. While on this trail, be sure to take full advantage of fun activities on the Erie Canalway. In warmer months you may check out   the Erie Canal Bike Tours.

Erie Canalway Trail

Distance from Rochester Station (ROC): 3.6 miles to the Genesee Valley Park Gateway

The Erie Canalway Trail itself encompasses a vast portion of Upstate New York, ranging from Tonawanda to Cohoes. Because of the great length of the trail, hikers may be interested in a shorter hike, while still being able to enjoy the Erie Canalway. By taking Amtrak to Rochester Station, hikers can begin their hike from Genesee Valley Park Gateway. From here you can opt for the shorter segment of Rochester to Fairport for a 14-mile hike, lasting around five to seven hours on foot. Much like the other segments of the Empire State Trail, the Erie Canalway Trail is home to fascinating historical landmarks, such as the current operational New York State Canal System.

Further Information Regarding Travel

Amtrak has taken several initiatives to ensure the safety of its passengers. They have committed to requiring face masks for all passengers, converting the cafe car to takeout only, adding social distance signage, and much more.