An on-line map of the detailed AHET trail route, including designated parking areas and nearby attractions, is available on the Empire State Trail website at: https://empiretrail.ny.gov/. The map identifies paved asphalt and stonedust trail segments, as well as on-road sections.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET), a 36-mile bicycling and hiking route from the City of Rensselaer in Rensselaer County to the Town of Greenport in Columbia County, is complete and open to the public. Click here for a detailed update on the AHET trail.
The AHET trail is 10 to 12-feet wide with gentle grades, welcoming visitors of all ages and abilities. Most of the trail has a paved asphalt surface; some sections in Columbia County have a stonedust surface. The trail is open year-round, dawn to dusk, for non-motorized recreation (ATVs, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and other motorized vehicles are prohibited). The trail will not be plowed – during winter months the trail is open for hiking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leash at all times, and owners must clean up after their pets. Trail users are reminded to stay on the trail and not enter adjacent private property.
Welcome to the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail (AHET Trail) website. The AHET Trail will be a shared-use bicycling and pedestrian trail along the 36-mile Albany-Hudson Electric Trolley corridor from Hudson, NY to Rensselaer, NY – running through Rensselaer and Columbia Counties. This website will be periodically updated with plans, reports, meeting dates, project status reports, and other information.
The AHET Trail is an important part of the Empire State Trail, providing a key link between the Capital Region and the Mid-Hudson Valley. The Empire State Trail, when completed in 2020, will create a 750-mile biking and walking trail from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo.
The AHET Trail crosses through two counties (Rensselaer and Columbia), eight towns, and five cities and villages. At the northern end, the trail begins near the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station, across the river from the state capital in Albany. At the southern end, the City of Hudson provides a trail destination with shops, galleries and restaurants in an historic downtown. Along the route, the trail goes through historic communities in the rural landscape of the Hudson Valley, including orchards, village Main Streets, shops and restaurants, historic sites, and other locations.
The AHET Trail Concept Plan identifies the proposed location of the trail, bridges, roadway crossings and related features. While the goal is to keep as much of the trail off-road as possible, there are areas where the proposed trail route is located on existing roads. Trailheads and key destinations are also identified.
View the entire route below or click on the following sections to see town-by-town maps:
Town of Greenport
Town of Stockport
Town of Stuyvesant
Town of Kinderhook, Villages of Kinderhook & Valatie
Town of Chatham
Town of Nassau and Village of Nassau
Town of Schodack
Town of East Greenbush
City of Rensselaer
The Empire State Trail Initiative kicked off in early 2017, and the initiation for the AHET Trail closely followed. The AHET Trail project schedule is outlined below (click to enlarge).
Click a benefit below to learn more.
On August 7th, the Hudson Greenway issued a Draft Concept Plan for the AHET project, and held initial public meetings on August 8th and 10th that were attended by more than 350 people. The Greenway received a number of comments at the public meetings, and is accepting written comments via the comment form below.
Responses to some of the most frequently asked questions at the public meetings are provided below. This is an initial review of comments to provide timely response to several key questions. This fall, the Greenway will release a comprehensive, more detailed document that compiles all comments received from the public, and provides responses to all questions.
The Hudson Greenway is undertaking a variety of public outreach efforts, as the trail siting and construction planning is developed over the next 12 months:
The Greenway’s goal is to develop the AHET as an off-road trail wherever possible. However, the historic trail corridor is broken in certain places (for example short sections of public roadway have been built on the old rail line in some places, the ROW is cut twice by Interstate I-90, and buildings have been constructed on the old ROW in the cities of Rensselaer and Hudson). In those places, the only available alternative is to route the trail along local roadways.
The Empire State Trail, in concert with the NYS Department of Transportation, has developed a statewide Design Guide (posted in the Documents section) that captures the most current techniques and approaches for roadway crossings. Each road crossing along the AHET Trail will receive the appropriate treatment to provide pedestrian and bicycle safety, based on vehicle traffic speeds and volumes and the specific crossing configuration.
The Hudson Greenway compiled the Empire State Trail Design Guide (posted in the documents section) to provide a comprehensive summary of the current guidelines for developing off-road “shared use paths” and on-road bicycle and pedestrian routes. The Design Guide builds upon bicycle and pedestrian guidelines issued by the American Association for Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which is the national standard for multi-use trail facilities.
Greenway staff are happy to respond to questions from adjacent landowners. The best way for property owners to contact the Greenway is through the “submit comments” section on the www.AHETtrail.org website. Greenway staff review each submitted comment, and will send individual responses to specific questions. Greenway staff are also available to meet on-site with adjacent landowners where appropriate to share information and discuss landowner issues (adjacent landowners should include their contact information when submitting comments on the website).
Many studies, including research conducted by Realtors associations, have found that multi-use trails are an amenity that increases property values and improve the quality of life for nearby residents.
Rules will be posted informing trail users to stay on the trail and not enter adjacent property. Trail design features, such as allowing vegetation to grow up establishing a natural boundary, and installing signage or fencing in specific locations where warranted, will reinforce trail behavior. New York State, like most states, has a Recreational Use Statute (General Obligation Law Section 9-103) that protects property owners from liability from hikers, bicyclists, and other trail activities on private property. The general experience of rail-trails across New York State is that users stay on the trails and respect adjacent private property.
Based on experiences on other rail-trails, there typically are not significant problems with people leaving the trail and entering private property. Trail users understand that adjacent land is private property, not to be entered without permission. The AHET Trail will include a number of features to reinforce the requirement that users respect private property. Rules emphasizing people are not allowed to enter adjacent property will be posted at trailheads. The trail will be 10-12 feet wide, whereas the National Grid ranges in width from 75 to 150 feet, providing a healthy buffer to private property (and natural vegetation growth will deter users from leaving the trail). Generally speaking, security or privacy fencing will not be installed along the trail corridor. However, in special circumstances the Greenway will consider installing additional signage, fencing, or vegetative plantings where warranted.
The HRVG has entered into a License Agreement with National Grid authorizing creation of the AHET Trail. The agreement limits public recreational use of the trail to pedestrian and bicycle use only, including ADA accessibility. The agreement explicitly prohibits public equestrian use of the AHET Trail, and also prohibits snowmobiles and other motorized recreational uses.
The HRVG and National Grid have reviewed public comments requesting that horses be allowed on the AHET Trail. We have jointly concluded that equestrian use is not appropriate due to safety concerns. The AHET will be a unique recreational trail due to its close proximity to electrical facilities including utility poles, guy wires, and related infrastructure. These are present along the trail for the entire length of the National Grid corridor to support a 34,500V transmission line, plus a second parallel electrical distribution line located along the majority of the ROW that provides local electrical service to National Grid customers. In many places, the distance between the edge of the trail to utility poles will be as little as two feet, and the distance to guy wires will be as little as five feet. In rural areas, the trail will be ten feet wide, with some sections reduced to eight feet wide to provide required buffers to utility poles, or to accommodate safety fencing that will be installed linearly along the trail where drop-offs present safety hazards.
Given the AHET Trail’s proximity to suburban areas, villages, and hamlets, the HRVG anticipates significant use of the trail by pedestrian and bicycle users. The HRVG and National Grid have concluded that, due to anticipated high levels of trail use, close proximity to poles and guy wires, and constrained trail width in some locations, allowing horses to share the trail with pedestrians and bicyclists would create unacceptable safety concerns and potential conflicts between user groups.
The HRVG explored the option of creating a separate bridle path along the National Grid ROW, paralleling the bicycle/pedestrian trail – but concluded this option is not feasible due to the existence of utility poles and guy wires, along with physical constraints such as drop-offs and wetlands adjacent to the historic trolley bed. The HRVG also researched equestrian use on other rail-trails in the Hudson Valley and the Capital District. Generally speaking, horses are not allowed (with limited exceptions).
Note: Where established horse trails cross the AHET corridor and have the consent of the adjacent landowner, horses will continue to be allowed to cross perpendicularly across the AHET Trail.
The Greenway is aware that illegal use by ATVs and dirt bikes is currently a problem on some sections of the corridor. Based on experience with other rail trails, we anticipate construction of the trail will displace (and not increase) ATV activity. Signage stating that motor vehicles are prohibited will be conspicuously posted – most people will comply, reinforced by social interactions with bicyclists and pedestrians. Law enforcement by state and local agencies will be available if needed to address non-compliance. There are hundreds of miles of rail-trails in New York State – ATV use is generally not a significant problem.
There are a large number of rail-trails and canalway trails in New York State. The universal experience is that these types of trails quickly become cherished community assets. We are not aware of any increase in crime associated with trails, but the Greenway will further research whether any studies exist.
The Greenway will develop written trail use rules that will be posted along the trail, and will seek the local municipalities’ input into the rules. In practice, trail use rules are straightforward (no motorized vehicles, do not enter private property adjacent to the trail, the trail is open dawn to dusk, etc.). The Greenway anticipates adopting a single set of rules for the entire trail (we would not support developing separate rules for the individual towns and villages the trail passes through). County, town, and city law enforcement agencies will be the primary response agencies, with support from New York State agencies if needed. Rail-trails typically do not generate significant law enforcement presence.
The AHET Trail will be operated and maintained by a collaborative partnership including the Hudson River Valley Greenway, local county, town and village governments, and interested trail groups and volunteers. The Greenway/New York State retains responsibility for long-term “capital maintenance” such as when asphalt and stonedust needs to be resurfaced or safety fencing needs to be replaced (typically once every 15+ years). However, the Greenway does not have staff to conduct regular maintenance, such as mowing a narrow strip of grass along the trail, which will need to be done regularly during the growing season. The Greenway is initiating conversations with local governments regarding trail maintenance agreements. Fortunately, regular maintenance needs are modest, and the fact that the trail crosses through a large number of towns and villages minimizes the impact on any single municipality.
Although state law enforcement agencies will be available to provide strategic assistance, local police and EMS agencies will be the primary responders. Typically, the level of police and EMS responses on rail-trails is low. The Greenway is compiling information on emergency incidents on other rail-trails in NYS, to share with involved agencies along the AHET route.
The Hudson Greenway is approaching development of the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail as a partnership with the involved county, town, city, and village local governments. We are committed to planning and building a trail that has the support of involved local elected officials.
The Greenway will request the local municipality’s concurrence for any improvements proposed for roads and property under the municipality’s jurisdiction. Improvements will be designed for each specific road segment and crossing, and may include installation of signage, installation of pavement markings, and/or improvements to roadway shoulders or sidewalks. The Greenway will formally request municipality concurrence after preliminary engineering designs have been developed in the spring of 2018, which will provide the municipality a clear description of the specific road treatments.
As the project gets updated and related documents get completed, they will be uploaded here for community members to review and provide feedback. Please check back regularly for updates.
View the Final AHET Concept Plan, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Findings Statement, and corresponding appendices:
Other documents relevant to the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail:
The first round of public meetings was conducted in August 2017. Information about upcoming meetings and meetings held within the last 6 months is posted below.
The Hudson River Valley Greenway welcomes public comment on the AHET Trail project. Please provide your email address and comments through the form below. Your comments, observations, and concerns will be incorporated through the public engagement process.