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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Erie Canal Bike Trail.
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mapping a ride
Bob Kelley on 04/09/2021 12:44 PM
we are looking for help in mapping out a ride app 50 miles round trip within the Syracuse Area, either east or west is fine.
Hoping for the most paved trails we can find, this is a fundraiser we are doing and will have novice riders, any guidance would be much appreciated

Bob Kelley on 04/09/2021 01:30 PM
I am also tryimng to map this route out?

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 04/09/2021 08:22 PM
That’s a good map Bob. You don’t need to follow the grey dashed lines (like the one that takes you down to Seneca Falls). Those are for camping 600 people on the annual “Cycle the Erie Canal” trip which is what that map was originally made for. I know you have novices on your trip and want paved and you’ll get some of that but don’t fear the purple colored “stone dust” parts on that map. They’re perfectly flat and smooth crushed stone. This type of surface is typical of what you on most rail-trails and canalways.

Good luck with your trip!

We are starting from Buffalo on April 30th
Brambor from Windham, Maine on 03/31/2021 12:42 PM
Hello, we plan to start our ride from Buffalo at the end of April. I am assuming there is not going to be any snow on the ground (correct me if I am wrong) but there is a chance of minor flooding along the way depending on the level of rain in the past few days.

I have seen mentioned on this forum that the locks are closed until June. I am assuming we will still be able to cross the canal where necessary...what does it mean to a cyclist that the locks are closed? Will we still be able to camp at some of the locks as it has been done in the past?


John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 03/31/2021 04:26 PM
Brambor, I think the locks being closed may have to do with boat traffic? Not sure why they would be closed all the way till June though, it’s pretty warm by then. Lots of people do camp at the locks, I would seek out the lock tenders and ask where you should go or if you can’t find anyone just pick a spot at the locks and do it. Look though this forum for a few of the threads on that very topic.

I still don’t understand why PTNY doesn’t do a better job of getting the message out about camping locations for cyclists crossing the state. These should be signage saying so and all of their web pages and maps should state where you can camp, even if it is “primitive”. It shouldn’t be this hard to plan out camping spots.

As for weather, I think you’re pretty safe by late April. I always bring some layers in case it gets chilly though. I wouldn’t worry about flooding but if it’s rained the trail will be soupy and have puddles. Most of it is crushed limestone/gravel. Just assume you will get a little muddy. It actually makes for a fun adventure!

Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 03/31/2021 08:14 PM

The locks being closed will not affect your trip, other than missing the passage of boat traffic along the canal next to you and watching the boats locking through. Only a few locks allow passage along the closed lock gates from the north to south side, so you'll be crossing the canal on roadway bridges if you choose to do so. The locks have traditionally opened a few days before Memorial Day, with some sections of locks that are being repaired opening later. The weather and trail conditions are unpredictable during April, with gorgeous spring days mixed with cool rainy ones. Flooding is not a concern unless there is a major storm when you wouldn't be riding anyway. Much of the western part of the trail is well packed stone dust. When it is wet it can be a little squirrely with road tires and sprays you and your packs with some fine grit.
Have a great trip!

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 03/31/2021 11:26 PM
The locks are planned to open mid-May for 2021.
Snow in April in Bflo, Roch or Syr is not uncommon, however, it is typically a light covering and not something that lasts far into the day. BUT... it's Buffalo. LOL Late April should not be an issue.

You've camped before on the Canalway so know what's out there. The locks not being open really has little affect on camping and, frankly, make it even more simple. There's noone to tell you what or where! The difference along the entire Canalway will be that any areas where you may have found facilities prior, will not be open (Ft.Plain for instance).

I get what John W says above, but I believe that the reason nothing is published is because the NYS Canalway Corp is who runs the show. PTNY is more of a support group for the canal. So, it's the Canal Corp who has not officially designated or maintained specific camping locations along the trail. It just leaves a void. But, at the same time, it offers up the opportunity to wing it and figure out places that work. [Note for others who may read this... the trail is not always right next to the Canal and quite often is a distance apart from it.]

It's a fun adventure. Post a trip report after the ride so we know how it goes.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 04/01/2021 05:26 AM
Interesting information WNYBubba....I wasn’t aware of the difference between the NYS Canalway Corp and PTNY. I always thought that Canalway Corp dealt with the canal (water part), locks, boats, etc and PTNY dealt with the actual riding/walking path/recreation stuff.

Perhaps we’ve been sending emails to the wrong place asking for things on the trail! : )


wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/07/2021 08:42 PM
John W:

I'm pretty sure I have this right! Last year as I was attempting to secure information about Lock camping, etc. I spoke with an individual at the Canal Corp who gave me some great information. Part of that was that the person (female name that I can't recall) whose job was coordinating the pathway and camping information. A few calls lead me to think that the Canalway Corp. is a heads-up organization and very open and easy to deal with.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 04/07/2021 11:01 PM
We’ll have to try and find her name so we know who to contact to get inside info on all things the Erie
Canal! :-). That makes me feel good knowing that Canal Corp is trying to organize things, especially camping matters. I truly hope they add more from start to finish, the would be a welcome addition.

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/08/2021 12:49 AM
John W:

I'm pretty sure I have this right! Last year as I was attempting to secure information about Lock camping, etc. I spoke with an individual at the Canal Corp who gave me some great information. Part of that was that the person (female name that I can't recall) whose job was coordinating the pathway and camping information. A few calls lead me to think that the Canalway Corp. is a heads-up organization and very open and easy to deal with.

Empire State Trail - Hudson Valley camping
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/07/2021 08:35 PM
Hopefully this is not too far off topic for this forum, but... I am planning to add the trip from Albany to NYC to my cross-state Canalway ride this June.

I will be bike-packing/touring. I'm quite comfortable with finding places to camp overnight on the Canalway, but I'm wondering what to expect as far as finding camping spots along the Empire State Trail heading south -- especially south of Kingston when I will be in more urban settings as I get closer and closer to the city.

Do any of you have any relevant beta or experience on the different pathways that the new EST utilizes? [Worse case I could utilize private campgrounds or if it was necessary.] Thanks in advance.

Trail Report: Rotterdam Junction track crossing open!
Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 03/23/2021 09:14 PM
First spring ride on this beautiful day Rexford to Rotterdam Junction :) Other than winter debris the trail is in excellent condition. The Maxon Road to Rt 146 section in Schenectady has two sections of crushed gravel crossings for large construction vehicles and a 'trail closed' sign at the Rt 146 end. Walking the bike across was only a brief annoyance. Last year's trail closure for installation of large water/sewer pipes on the Maxon Road end is complete and the path has new asphalt.

The Rotterdam Junction train track crossing is open! It runs under the tracks, making it much lower than the adjacent section of flooded Old Erie Canal; sure seems like it will be knee deep in water after a rainstorm. The associated trail has been cleaned up and the shoulders cut back and mowed. There is still one very short section of riding on Route 5 with a good shoulder.

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 03/26/2021 10:56 AM
Nice update Yankee John. Good to know things are improving. Well... let's hope the Rotterdam RR works out! I read about this previous to my ride last June, but I can't remember there being any issue. I had a great ride from Fort Hunter/Tribes Hill over to Waterford that day and just remember it being a really nice, enjoyable ride. (But even if I'm on street level, it doesn't bother me.)

Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 04/06/2021 07:54 AM

The Fort Hunter to Waterford ride is even better this spring. Much of the trail from Sctdy to Cohoes is repaved and in excellent condition. Repaving has covered the root bumps and frost heaves, giving a smooth ride. The big washout on the hill before GE Research has been repaved with a new culvert and the fence has been repaired.
When you rode last year you were on the road through Rotterdam Junction and reconnected with the trail at the east end of town. It's not that far and the traffic isn't going that fast so it was just a blip on your trip. Having the RR tunnel removes that section of road riding and connects preexisting trail that ended at the tracks. I always thought getting across the tracks would require a very expensive bridge that was never going to happen. The tunnel is a welcome surprise.

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/07/2021 08:25 PM
Yankee John

Thanks again for the additional update. I'm sure I'll remember the new RR Tunnel on this year's trip. Not seeing root bumps and frost heaves will certainly be an improvement! However... the "just a blip(s)" on a Canalway ride seem to start numbering up! LOL

MPH from St Louis on 04/02/2021 03:23 PM
Just starting to plan a trip riding the Erie Canal in 2022.
I have not found much info on shuttle service, I see Amtrak does have a route that runs from Buffalo to Albany. We would be taking the train from Buffalo to Albany, since the Amtrak site shows the early morning train arriving in Albany at 12.30pm I was curious if this is the case or does the train often run late? We would like to ride 28 miles that afternoon but not sure if we can count on the train to be on time.
Anyone have any input or experience on this train route?

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/05/2021 10:33 PM
I don't believe that the trains regularly run too far off schedule, but I have limited experience. Just a point of reference for your planning (and there is plenty of discussion on this site regarding such) the trains have limited roll-on space and it must be reserved in advance. Possibly not every train has bike loading and every station does not offer loading/unloading of checked items.

Erie Canal bike path in Utica NY
Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs NY on 03/29/2021 09:36 AM
Good morning!

Recently, on the ECT website, I saw a post about a trail extension in Utica NY. Does anyone have information regarding this upgrade? Does it go from Mohawk NY to Utica NY? I rode the Little Falls NY section last Fall to Mohawk NY and this section was very nice. I would appreciate any insight into the Utica section.

Many thanks! Joseph Pafundi Saratoga Springs NY

Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 03/31/2021 09:17 PM
Hello Joseph!
I rode Rochester to Saratoga last fall and stayed overnight in Utica. There was not any information or evidence of a new trail in Utica. The western approach to Utica is paved but has many root bumps. After Barnes Avenue the trail east becomes impassable for a bicycle. Taking Barnes Avenue South ends at some cement barriers with a very narrow gap too small for a bike with panniers, requiring removing your panniers. From there it's only a few blocks to the renovated Utica Club Brewery with tours, and food, and beer tasting...Heading east from Utica is on roads. I crossed to Broad street that turns to Old 5S which is a local road with little traffic and was in good condition. This becomes Main Street in Ilion and Mohawk, where the very nice new sections of trail east begin. Do not try to take Rutger road east through the Masonic Home campus to Broad street! Google Maps shows this road, but it is blocked by a very imposing and impassable gate:)

Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs NY on 04/01/2021 07:37 AM

Hope you and your family are well. Many thanks for the detailed information! When I saw the original post on ECT, I had the impression that some "major" change had taken place for eastbound riders (Utca to Mohawk). Your post clears things up. Again, many thanks!


Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 04/02/2021 07:21 AM
I hope your family is also healthy and well Joseph!

If you haven't done it, the ride from Rexford to Amsterdam is now very nice, gone are the days of riding on 5 or 5S. The trail comes to the south side of Amsterdam that has been redeveloped as a very small 'Little Italy' which has original Italian restaurants with outdoor seating and great food, bocce courts, etc. The new pedestrian bridge over the river waterfront park is amazing, although it's not bike friendly because you need to climb stairs on the bridge over the tracks on the north side. If you don't want to ride back on the same day you can stay overnight at the 'Amsterdam Castle' Some bloke from England renovated the big old brick armory on the south side near the trail into a hotel. It's very unique, to say the least, with original suits of armor and battle flags from Europe. Worth a one night stay.

Distance from end of trail in Albany to airport
wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 03/30/2021 12:18 PM
I'm considering renting a car at ALB airport to transport myself & bike back to Corning at the end of my Bflo-Alby ride. Is it possible and safe to bike from the end of the trail to the car rental center at the airport? If so, what's the approximate distance? Thank you.

Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 03/30/2021 03:10 PM
Less than 10 mile +/- down Rt 155 A/banhy Shaker Road. Unknown ref the amount of traffic

Bop from Rochester on 03/30/2021 05:42 PM
Off the wall idea. Take a look on street view? This it?,-73.752712,102.37h,-8.06p,1z,IOx3TYOEcBjvbURTbaQyHA

Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 03/31/2021 08:45 PM

I'm not sure if bikes can legally ride the Loudonville Road overpass from Albany that goes past Memorial Hospital, which has traffic going pretty fast. The middle section of ALbany SHaker Road will be fine although there's still quite a bit of traffic. The last section after Maxon road is really hairy, with lots of traffic coming from the airport and Wolf road getting on the highway. There aren't any other great choices other than riding back the trail to Burhmaster road, a short stretch of busy Route 7 to the other end of Albany Shaker Road coming to the airport from the north. This section of ALbany Shaker road is new and has wide shoulder and is an OK ride even though it has traffic.

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 03/31/2021 11:39 PM
Lock your bike, call Uber! Or call Enterprise who may bring the rental to you. The roads out by the Airport and nearby Mall are really busy.

Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 04/01/2021 07:09 AM
Looks like a bike / ped path along Dalessondro Blvd & along RT 155.
Check the route on Google Street View and Instant Street View. Some parts seem to be a on road bike Lane

wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 04/01/2021 08:39 PM
Thank you all for your replies. It seems I should scratch the idea of biking to the airport. I've never been to that part of NY before. Thus the naive question.

Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 04/02/2021 07:04 AM

One last route to consider that would bring you to the airport 'the back way' without riding on major roads:

Take the Albany County Rail Trail from downtown Albany to Voorheesville. It has been recently completed and is a great ride, although it's a gentle uphill the whole way. From Voorheesville take 155/State Farm Road to Watervliet Shaker Road to the Airport. 155 is busy but has a wide shoulder. This ride would add 15 or 20 miles, but half would be on rail trail.

Searching the forum
Yankee John from Vermont on 03/10/2021 12:12 PM

There are recurring questions on the forum such that I've stopped posting to repeat my previous comments. Is there a way to redesign the web page to encourage newcomers to search for previous posts before they post a query?

For example:
1. Camping on the trail.
2. Parking overnight at various locks and POI.
3. Riding east vs west.
4. What are the sections of on road riding like?
5. Use of a road bike with skinny tires on the trail.

The forum is great...these are suggestions.

daltongang from Park City on 03/31/2021 05:28 PM
MY thoughts exactly ! Most forums have that option. This one is so frustrating to search .... manually!

Glass on trail
Mermaid from Syracuse on 03/30/2021 07:12 PM
There is so much broken glass on the trailway over Bridge Street in Solvay that there is no place to navigate... And the glass is for the entire length of the bridge from side to side...

Buffalo to Albany.
Michael R from Libertyville on 03/25/2021 08:22 PM
I am planning a trip for two of us to bike Buffalo to Albany. We will be flying into Buffalo to begin our journey. We will be doing about 50 miles per day and will be staying at hotel/motel/B&B. Is there bike rentals in Buffalo, that I can rent for 8 days? Is there a service or how would I have our carry on luggage transported daily to the next overnight stay? Is there transportation from Albany back to Buffalo with the bikes? Thank you

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 03/26/2021 10:38 AM
Michael R: No offense, but you have a lot of research to do regarding riding the Erie Canalway. IMO, the easy answer here is (1) Look into Parks & Trails NY ( regarding their annual organized ride across the Canalway. You can buy in at various levels (food, accommodations, support, etc.) and this may very well be your best option. (2) If you want to plan your own tour, know that most riders carry their own gear. Then, you have your choice of how you overnight -- camp, B&B, or motels. The PTNY website interactive map (as well as the one on this website) offer information about lodging and logistics. PTNY also offers a newly edited Guide that you can purchase (and I would highly recommend it for planning purposes).

Regarding bike rentals -- I do not know if such is available, but some conversation with local (Buffalo) based shops may find the answer. Here are a few of the top shops: Tom's Pro Bike, Campus WheelWorks and Bert's Bikes. PTNY may offer some advise on this topic as well.

Good luck planning out your adventure.

Michael R from Libertyville on 03/28/2021 09:08 AM
Yes I do have to do a lot of research and that is why I submitted a post on this site. Having never bicycled in New York I am just now putting pieces together. Figuring out options. Thank you for your information. I appreciate it.

wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 03/28/2021 11:57 AM
Michael T: Good luck with your planning. I'm new to this forum and am also planning to ride Bflo-Abny in early June. On the question of bike rental in Bflo, I have no knowledge to share. On the second question of transporting your luggage from stop to stop, I have a suggestion based on my hiking 4 caminos (France, Portugal & Spain) and 4 biking trips (1 each along the Moselle, Rhine and Danube rivers and 1 from Pittsburgh to DC on the GAP and C&O canal.) I did all of these trips independently, i.e. without using any oufitter or travel agency. I carried everything in my backpack (hiking) or my panier (biking). This solves the logistical issue of transporting luggage from place to place. It's a really liberating experience to take only the absolute bare minimum, and only the lightest and least bulky items that are quick dry (so they can be washed by hand and dried in a few hours.) I should say that my hiking and biking trips had been either in the spring or autumn which translate into no need for bulky and heavy winter garment, boots and gloves. The total weight of my panier/backpack was always kept to 11-12 pounds, including the pach/oanier, tools and spare inner tube... The Danube river trip covered 5 countries in about 5 weeks. Even if you have carry-on luggage, you can always leave these at your hotel in Bflo and only take what you really need for your 8-day biking trip. I'm interested in the solution to your question number 3. Please share it as I'm facing a similar issue: how to get my bike back from Albany (to Rochester where my son can pick me up.)

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 03/28/2021 11:51 PM
Michael R: Hey, I realized I missed your last question about getting back to Bflo. Not an issue, but takes advance planning. Outside of renting a van or other rental options, to the best of my knowledge there is not a shuttle service operating. Most opt to take the Amtrak train back. The issue is that there are only a limited number of bike "racks" available on any train (like 6 or 8), and they sell out fast. Online, when you purchase a fare, a second screen displays where you can Add On -- here is where you purchase a spot for your bike ($20). If a rack is available it will say how many are available, if not it says SOLD OUT. Also, roll-on bicycle service is only available at manned stations, so coming back to Bflo you use the Buffalo/Depew station as the Exchange Street station is not manned.

Another completely different option mentioned on this forum quite some time ago was to purchase bikes in Bflo and sell them in Albany. Not kidding, evidently it has been done. Solves the problem of transporting bikes.

Post if you need more info or how things go with your plans.

John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 03/29/2021 09:07 AM

If the bike racks sell out, will Amtrak sell you a bike box at the station, which forces you to do the removal of pedals and the twisting of handlebars? Do they accept bike boxes at Albany? I did this at Union Station in DC after a GAP ride and it was all pretty smooth (putting a bike back together at midnight in downtown Pittsburgh wasn’t that fun after exiting the train but that’s another story). This was before roll-on, roll-off service was implemented.

Will they unload my bike BOX at Exchange St. or do I still need to get off at Depew?


wnybubba from Bflo - Roc on 03/29/2021 05:41 PM
John W: I believe that your experience in DC is the same in any "manned" station. AMTRAK does sell the boxes and, as you said, you need tools to accomplish the task. I know some have posted about not wanting the additional weight of tools to carry, but I don't see any other option.

Regarding loading/unloading... not sure. If the bike box is a "checked item" then yes, you would have to be at a manned station. However, if it is treated as carry-on luggage, then you'd be fine at any station. I'm just not sure how they handle the boxed bike whether there is an option of taking it aboard or not. The AMTRAK website says that there is not "checked service" available on the Empire Service train, so who knows what that means! It does say that you can have a boxed bike in lieu of a piece of baggage, but do they consider luggage as something that is checked rather than carry-on. It's all a bit confusing, huh? I'm sure a phone call to AMTRAK [800-USA-TRAIN] will provide some clarification. It would be nice to be able to finally sort these things out!

Yankee John from Vermont/Rexford on 03/29/2021 09:17 PM
Exchange is a spot on the track with no facilities, definitely 'unmanned.' The Lakeshore train doesn't stop there.

John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 03/30/2021 03:07 PM
Thanks WNYBubba and Yankee John.

I can deal with the box option is that’s all that can be purchased. Now I have to pick a week to go!

Distance from end of trail in Albany to airport
wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 03/30/2021 12:18 PM
I'm considering renting a car at ALB airport to transport myself & bike back to Corning at the end of my Bflo-Alby ride. Is it possible and safe to bike from the end of the trail to the car rental center at the airport? If so, what's the approximate distance? Thank you.

Camping on the Canal Rochester to Buffalo
PedalinPam from Rochester on 03/19/2021 01:40 PM
Planning to ride a long weekend Rochester to Buffalo and back on the canal, but I want to camp! It doesn't appear to be an easy task. Can anyone help? Offer advice?

Bop from Rochester on 03/19/2021 03:23 PM
Not going to be a big help here. I've seen tents setup along the north side of the canal from time to time. Coming from Hulberton NY to Greece.

There's spots at Henpeck park in Greece before Rochester for tents. But I don't know if it's allowed. Stealth camping my be order of the day most of the way.

On the big July ride I believe they do 50 miles a day. Which get's you to Rochester on night two..

wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 03/19/2021 09:43 PM
Not an easy task... Not really!
Can you provide more information on the plan? How many miles are you planning to ride in a day, what is your timing, etc.?

ROC - BFLO: For most, this is more than a days ride (93 miles or close to an 8-hour bike ride), so are you planning on an overnight on the way to, an overnight once in Bflo and then another overnight on the return? If so, that's three nights on the trail. Next, where do you want to camp? A private campground, in a Canalway "semi-designated" camping area or trailside? All are possible. I stayed right off trail on a lawn (with permission) near Medina without any plan. However, just looking outside of Medina (a bit east), right at Bates Road the trail goes up and over the roadway and back down. Just to the west side is a boat launch area and you can see a large grassy area close by and another decent area further down the trail. Either looks ideal and somewhere near 1/2 way.

I "found" these by using Google Maps, went to Street Level and looked around. I couldn't get to the Conservation Club (Identified on the map) or the Launch but saw the sign on the road. So I went into the Satellite mode and -- wow... you can see that this would be a nice place to bivouac for the evening. Next morning you're right in Medina for breakfast (unless you want to prepare at camp) and on the trail into Bflo in about 4 hours -- you'd be there by noon.

Where you would camp in the Buffalo area might be a bit more difficult. I'm sure you could find campgrounds. Trailside after Tonawanda would probably be difficult, but around that area might be something. Nothing says you can't call the City of Tonawanda or City of North Tonawanda (either side of the Canal) and ask the police department if there was a park or anywhere you might be able to set up camp. Also, there is a hostel in downtown Buffalo.

Lastly, as you will learn while riding, there are a multitude of places trailside that can accommodate an overnight tent. The hard part here is that you don't know exactly where they are. But, once you feel you are nearing where you want to stop, start looking for a spot that would work. The trail is pretty rural between the little towns along that way. Also, when you are planning, think about your time planning -- for instance, leaving Rochester afternoon on Day 1 puts you near Medina 4-ish hours into a ride. In other words, enough time to get dinner and set up camp. Leaving early morning puts you half-way by mid-day, but then you have time to visit places, take a swim, relax or whatever. You just need to think it through.

If you need more info, just post or give us a better idea of how you are looking to pull this off. All fun and all doable.

Bop from Rochester on 03/20/2021 10:08 AM
Whoops, managed to misread the trip destination.

Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 03/29/2021 04:27 PM
Call the town offices along the canal. You may get permission to camp at town parks

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