Field Trip: Bike (or run!) to Canada

It happens that my kid did this ride this fall — he rode from Albany to Portland, Oregon, with a pal — and for that first leg along the Erie Canal he said he was in gorgeous protected bike lanes of asphalt or crushed bluestone almost all the way to Buffalo. Turns out that ride on the Empire State Trail actually starts in Battery Park City, with the first leg of the 750-mile trail starting in front of Pier A.

Say what you will about the governor these days, but this is a pretty cool milestone, to have created a continuous path across the entire state, making it the nation’s longest multi-use trail. (It opened officially on Dec. 31.) It’s intended for hikers, runners, cyclists and cross-country skiers and 75 percent of it is off road — the green parts on the map below.

The governor calls the Battery Park City Gateway the terminus of the trail — I would call it the start, though it would be fun to bike home. There’s interpretive signage along the way, including the history panels above on BPC and the Hudson River.

The interactive map breaks out the trail in segments and shows cultural markers (the Intrepid, the Whitney) along the way. For instance, the first leg is BPC to Inwood Hill, 12.5 miles ending on Dyckman Street. There are downloadable maps for cyclists — cue sheets for navigating it without your phone — plus elevation charts and other highlights. It’s a very cool trip planning tool since, for instance, you could take a train or car up to Riverdale and do the 13-mile Bronx to Westchester leg in an afternoon, adding a stop at the Hudson River Museum.