NASSAU—The Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET) is officially open for use. The trail, which runs through Columbia and Rensselaer Counties, has sections in the county towns of Greenport, Stockport, Stuyvesant, Kinderhook and Chatham as well as the villages of Kinderhook and Valatie.
The AHET is part of a major trail system called the Empire State Trail, all of which is now open, according to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. In a press release, the governor announced completion of what he said is the nation’s longest multi-use state trail.
On January 1, State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, Empire State Trail Director Andy Beers and Hudson Valley Greenway Executive Director Scott Keller held at ribbon cutting in the Village of Nassau at one of 9 trail head parking areas along the 36-mile AHET. The representatives from the state also participated in one of the many walks and hikes being held across the state as part of the 10th Annual First Day Hikes program. After the ribbon cutting, some of the 20 people gathered—all of whom wore masks—walked or biked along the trail.
The Hudson River Valley Greenway constructed the AHET, hiring local contractor A. Colarusso & Son for the 19 miles of the trail in Columbia County. Work started in May of 2019. The $45-million trail follows the route of an electric trolley, which operated from 1900 to 1929. The corridor is owned by National Grid, which authorized the state to build a trail on the route.
The entire Empire State Trail is 750 miles and connects 20 regional trails, including the AHET, to create a continuous statewide “signed” route. The new recreational trail, which runs from New York City through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys to Canada, and from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal, is expected to draw 8.6 million residents and tourists annually, according to a press release from the state.
“There’s no trail like it in the nation—750 miles of multi-use trail literally from Manhattan to the Canadian Border, from Buffalo to Albany,” Governor Cuomo said in the press release. “Not only does it provide an opportunity to experience the natural beauty and history of New York, but it also gives New Yorkers from every corner of the state a safe outlet for recreation as we continue to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The trail was introduced in the governor’s 2017 State of the State address. According to the press release, the trail will be open year-round, including winter. As part of the 58 distinct projects to complete the trail on time, more than 180 miles of new off-road trail was created and 400 miles of previously disconnected, off-road trails were linked to eliminate gaps and ease engineering challenges such as railroad and water crossings in high traffic areas.
According to the release, the state Department of Transportation improved 170 miles of on-road bicycle route sections to enhance safety and travel on low-speed rural roadways and city streets when possible. The state also installed 45 gateways and trail heads along the route and branded the trail with signs, interpretive panels, bike racks and benches.
‘There’s no trail like it in the nation.’
Governor Andrew Cuomo in press statement
on opening of Empire State Trail
There are 5 trail heads in Columbia County: at state Route 203 and Main Street in Niverville; state routes 9 and 9H in Valatie; Rothermel Park in Kinderhook; county Route 25A in Stuyvesant Falls; and the Little League Field on Atlantic Avenue in Stottville.
In the release, Parks Commissioner Kulleseid praised the governor for his “vision” and said that “everyone from the most experienced long-distance cyclists to… family groups will enjoy this pathway. People can take a quick bike ride or walk close to home, or they can plan a multi-day adventure… from one end of the state to the other.”
As for the local section, Trail Director Beers pointed out at the ribbon cutting that the Greenway worked with 14 different local governments to construct the trail in the two counties. He mentioned the trail heads along the AHET and pointed out that a new bike shop had opened along the trail in the Village of Valatie. Mr. Beers also thanked the Columbia Friends of the Electric Trail (CFET), a not-for-profit, volunteer group, which will maintain much of the trail in the county.
For a map of the AHET go to the Empire State Trail website at https://empiretrail.ny.gov/
(Reporter and Deputy Publisher Emilia Teasdale lives on and owns property that abuts a section of the AHET.)
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email