Troy to Albany: The Hidden Path

Lane DeNicola

Last update: Oct 16, 2008

 

Revision History

Oct 16, 2008: added reference to Bikely.com route
Feb 13, 2007: removed anchors, corrected terminology, added more detail about CDTC map
Feb 10, 2007: initial version

Update

Since putting this document together I've come across the spectacular Bikely.com website, which (among thousands of others) includes a couple of versions of the very route described herein (e.g. Albany to Troy riverfront ride).  That's how to do a biking community website!

The Scoop

This short document will be of interest to those who have wished for a reasonably safe and enjoyable route for human-powered travel (walking, cross-country skiing, rollerblading, biking) from Troy to Albany. It's intended to accomplish three objectives:

Background

When I first moved to the Troy area (as an incoming grad student at RPI), I kept hearing from many of my contemporaries about this cool bike path that ran right along the far (western) side of the Hudson River, starting up in the Watervliet area and going all the way down to Albany. At some point I eventually spotted such a path, beginning at a small park right off 23rd Street (apparently called the Mayor James Cavanaugh Hudson Shores Park, it's located on the western bank of the river across from the south tip of Starbuck Island).

The problem was that when I tried the path out it only went south perhaps half-a-mile, abruptly ending in impassable underbrush with no sign of continuing further on. After much trial and error and prodding folks for more detail, I eventually got vague directions, and (to cut to the chase) finally found that the path does pick up again about 2 miles further south. It begins at a dank, secluded underpass (going under 787) just off of 4th Street, an underpass a Brit might refer to as "dodgy." On the opposite side of the underpass is a small parking lot, right on the western river bank, and this is the northmost point of the actual path.

Of particular interest to me personally, this path is annotated nowhere on the auto-centric maps of either Google or Mapquest (and typing in any path name *I* can think of yields zilch), but it IS quite visible in satellite imagery accessible through those sites.

The Hidden Path

This path is actually one segment of what is known to Capital District planners as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.

The parking lot is about 2.6 miles from RPI, and the path does indeed run all the way from the Watervliet/Menands area down to the big pedestrian bridge in Albany, sticking close to the river bank most of the way. It's about five miles long (so the roundtrip path from RPI to Albany is about 15 miles). It splits up a ways into it (one branch following the I-787, the other skirting the river), but rejoins again fairly quickly. On the way, it passes under the Menands Bridge (near the intersection of route 378 and interstate 787), under the monster intersection of interstates 90 and 787, and finally under a rail bridge, before skirting a couple of parking areas along the bank and arriving at the Albany pedestrian bridge (from which Albany becomes your pedestrian oyster).

The best map I've found of this path is produced by the Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC), and a 2006 version is available online here as a pair of PDF files. It's definitely a great map (produced using ESRI ArcMap), but is fairly large thanks to its level of detail (5.5 Mb filesize, 39" X 27"), which can tax both computers and printers. The path is also a segment of the Hudson Mohawk Runners Club Mohawk Hudson River Marathon, but their "Course Guide and Directions" (I think) leave something to be desired. Which brings us to the map...

The Map

The map above has seven waypoints marked:

  1. Sage Lab, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  2. The park off 23rd Street/Lower Hudson Avenue (where the FALSE path starts)
  3. The I-787 underpass and parking lot (where the actual path begins)
  4. The northernmost split along the path
  5. The southernmost split along the path
  6. A parking lot the path skirts (off Colonie Street in Albany)
  7. The Albany pedestrian bridge (where this particular path ends)

Clicking on any of the markers will show its ID and recenter the map on it (allowing you to zoom in and get a good look). Aside from the obvious pedestrian options once you hit the bridge in Albany, it's also quite possible at that point to join up with the rest of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, which at 35 miles long is one of the longest paved rail-trails in the country! A 5Mb PDF of the CDTC's nicely done 1998 user survey and report (entitled The Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail: Analysis of Trail Use, Regional Benefits, and Economic Impact) is available for download here.

A separate map giving directions from RPI to the northern end of the path is available at:

http://xrl.us/uqqg

Enjoy!

Acknowledgements

Thanks to those of my colleagues (Alex Sokoloff and Jason Patton) who helped guide me in the right direction until I found the dang thing. Special thanks to Angela & Don Stanhope for the copy of Google Maps Hacks for Christmas in 2006.

Licensing

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 License. Further, the information provided is expressly without warranty of any kind.