Buffalo --> Albany - What to know! -
Lily K from Chicago, IL on 10/03/2021 05:54 PM
Hi everyone! My cousin and I just wrapped up our 7-day bike trip from Buffalo to Albany, and we wanted to share some findings/tips we learned along the way! We're so grateful for this forum so we wanted to add in our own thoughts to help the next wave of End-to-Enders!
Buffalo to Hulberton: We loved Steamworks coffee in Lockport! We also stayed at Red Rock Ponds RV resort - a great place for a quick night of camping.
Hulberton to Rochester: There's a great little diner in Brockport for breakfast and amazing lemonade at a nearby coffee shop in Spencerport (both are on the right side as you bike into those towns) In Rochester, we loved walking down Park Ave and exploring the shops/restaurants. We ate at Dorado for dinner (amazing Mexican food). We also stayed at this Airbnb (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/40491824?guests=1&adults=1&s=67&unique_share_id=ab082a71-fd15-417c-ac68-cbc538e5b472) for those looking for a cozy stay right off the trail!
Rochester to Lyons: There is *a lot* of road biking on this day so be prepared! We stayed @ Lyons fire station. Wonderful people and a nice view of the canal, but there were some drunk folks outside the nearby restaurant which we didn't particularly enjoy. Also, not many places to eat in general around Lyons - a few were closed and the next town over was additional mileage we didn't want to do after a long ride.
Lyons to Syracuse: Also a lot of road biking on this day - continue to use this website's interactive map for the best directions! It's also very hilly in and around Syracuse, so if you choose to stay more in the city, be prepared for a climb to get to your destination. We stayed at Ophelia's bed and breakfast which was amazing! AND we ate at Pastabilities in downtown Syracuse which was one of our favorite restaurants on the trip!
Syracuse to Utica: This forum mentions Lock 12 as a great place to camp, but that it can get extremely buggy. A quick tip: Camp on the OPPOSITE side of Lock 12, and you'll experience less bugs! Just walk your bike across the canal and you'll find picnic benches + an awning to lock your bikes in a dry space. We did have some animals get into our stuff that evening though, so definitely be aware of where you're storing your food. Lastly, in and around Utica gets tricky with the trail - we recommend using this interactive map! We ended up having to do some gritty highway biking before Utica (we missed the trail), which is not ideal.
Utica to Amsterdam: Overall extremely flat and paved - was one of our best days of riding! You'll also see Little Falls and have lots of different views across the way. We stayed at Amsterdam castle which is *right* off the trail - and we ate at Parillo's which is a 3 min walk right below the castle. AMAZING Italian!
Amsterdam to Albany: It gets hilly once you past Schenectady! We were very surprised with some of the climbs, but the downhills were awesome :) After we finished our grand tour, we stopped in at Charlie's Hot Dogs (right near the Amtrak station) for INCREDIBLE burgers and fries! The best victory meal!
That's the gist of our journey! Please feel free to comment with any questions as well - we were 2 young female bikers and felt completely safe and comfortable the entire way!
Joe Nocella from Brooklyn on 10/14/2021 02:21 PM
Great write up!
Camping at/ner Albany? -
Joe Nocella from Brooklyn on 10/14/2021 02:20 PM
I own a bike shop in Brooklyn (718 Cyclery www.718c.com) that leads alot of overnight trips. We are leading a self-supported ride from Buff to NYC in May 2022. Any thoughts on camping spots at/near Albany? We are going to do 70 miles day, and night 4 gets us to Lock 15 (which is about 72 miles form Albany)
Thanks in advance
On road miles? -
Plato from Lexington, Kentucky on 10/08/2021 08:27 PM
From the waterfront in Buffalo to Albany, how many miles are on roads?
Trail map. -
Tom from Westerly RI on 09/25/2021 12:56 PM
I'm leaving Monday for buffalo, will start riding there on Tuesday the 29th.
I'm wondering if there is a map I can print, a strip map would be great. Not sure I'll have internet access in many places with T-Mobile. Also I haven't figured out the interactive map.
Is there any app that will work like the gps for driving?anks
Thank your for your help,
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/26/2021 12:09 PM
Tom -- just use Google Maps in "Bike" mode. It will follow the Canalway. It will get you through places like Rome where signage is minimal a/o confusing. Also map it prior and print the "steps" showing the route. Stash it in you pack in case you get in a situation without service. However... service is pretty good on the trail -- Verizon anyhow.
Bill in Houston from Houston on 09/27/2021 12:39 PM
Figure out how to use the interactive map. It is soooooo helpful for all those times you get the feeling you aren't on the trail anymore, or get to a fork and don't know which way to go.
Turn by turn maps and gps units exist, but you gotta have the right stuff to make all that work, and you're out of time.
Dandy Don from Fairfield on 09/27/2021 06:59 PM
Like Yogi Berra said, "When you come to a fork in the road--take it.
Herkimer. Monument -
Pam from Iowa city on 09/17/2021 08:36 PM
We are headed from Rome to st johnsville tomorrow. I saw discussion about loose gravel. What is the current situation surface near Herkimer Monument. Thanks.
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/26/2021 12:18 PM
Pam! So what was your experience? Is it fixed or just too much loose gravel like I had experienced in June? It was pretty sucky, but I made it through.
Pam from Iowa City iA on 09/26/2021 03:56 PM
There were sections east of the Herkimer monument that were soft, but not problem going through with 1 1/2" tires.
Keith from Saratoga Springs on 08/07/2021 04:54 AM
Do the bike racks on Amtrak trains actually work with 2 inch tires? Their website says yes but I saw a post that said 1.75 barely fit.
Scott from Baltimore on 08/09/2021 02:36 PM
I don't know if the 2" tires will fit, but if you can take off the front tire you could hang the bike on the hook by the handle bars or have a short loop made of a strap or rope around the handle bars or tied to the back tire. The front tire has to come off because the bike will be too tall to hang, but it just has to hang, not necessarily by the back tire.
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 08/09/2021 08:54 PM
Keith -- the other thing is that you might not even have to use a rack. I've now ridden with bike three time and each time was different. FIRST: A baggage car with no racks, SECOND: A real rack in the passenger car, THIRD: A Baggage car that had racks - but you can choose to not hang your bike. I actually think that if you got onto the passenger car and it didn't fit in the rack, you could put it in the handicapped area across the aisle.
Thomas Micele from Westerly on 09/23/2021 08:47 PM
How about you just let some air out of the tire. I'm pretty sure the rim is not 2".
Just let out enough for a tight fit.
Mark H from York, PA on 09/25/2021 09:45 AM
I have to LOL, my experience is the same as wnybubba’s; 3 train rides, 3 different places to store bike
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/26/2021 12:11 PM
See! :-) So did the wide tires fit in the rack?
Scenic Portion -
K8 from CA on 09/14/2021 05:55 PM
I am considering riding the Erie Canal in 2022. Which portion is the most scenic with Points of interest? Buffalo to Syracuse or Syracuse to Albany? Or ???
Bill in Houston from Houston on 09/16/2021 03:14 PM
Of those two, I think I'd choose Buffalo to Syracuse.
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/18/2021 11:31 PM
Bflo to SYR: Mixed surface, some rural sections, many small towns right on the trail plus Bflo/Niagara, ROC & SYR.
SYR to ALB: Mixed surface to Rome/Utica lots of paved after; older cities and towns along Mohawk River that carries the Canal, several cities and less "quaint" small towns.
RebaNic from Buffalo, NY on 09/20/2021 08:43 AM
Prevailing winds tend to be from the west. I found it a more pleasant ride with wind to my back, and no sun in my eyes. There are very beautiful sections Buff to Syracuse. Everything from biking along the mighty Niagara river, to crunching leaves under the tires through gentle woodlands. I love these sections ... great towns along the way.
Nice section -
RM from Conn. on 09/08/2021 03:44 PM
Rode the EC end to end 2 years ago. Heading with wife to Lockport…and will ride to Brockport and back to Lockport. So that she can see what I think was a great section of the EC. Does anyone agree?? She does not ride as much as I do but is able to put 40-45 miles in a single day..Hence Lockport to Brockport. And back. ( 2 days ).
AnotherTuba from Rochester on 09/08/2021 09:06 PM
I just did all of that in the last couple of months, that's a great idea!
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/13/2021 05:04 PM
Yeah... nice part of the western Erie Canalway. Hit some rural sections, small towns, waterfalls (Medina) and significant locks. Go for it.
Bill in Houston from Houston on 09/16/2021 03:30 PM
Good selection. And Brockport has nice places for lunch.
Claudia Schruhl from Charlotte NC on 09/13/2021 05:21 PM
I like to ride the Erie Canal bikecamping but my concert is where or where i can call to find a Shutter to back to my car (Albany)?
Bill in Houston from Houston on 09/16/2021 03:28 PM
Luggage shuttle -
Ken from NH on 09/14/2021 08:57 AM
Any suggestions for lodging to lodging luggage shuttles along the trail? Would be nice to ride light!
Wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 09/14/2021 10:36 AM
Ken, as far as I know there's no such service. May I suggest that you consider lightening your load to make the trip more pleasant. You'll be surprise how much you can do without. I learned the value of being a light hiker/biker after my first camino Santiago de Compostela, a 500-mile hike from southern France to northwestern Spain. I started with a 20-lb backpack, taking things "just in case"! After 2 days crossing the Pyrenees and pain on my back and knees (I'm a polio survivor and was 67 on that camino), I gave stuffs away and reduced the pack weight down to 12 pounds. Since then I've hiked 3 more caminos and biked 5 long distance bike trip. I'm currently on my 6th bike trip down the Rhine in Germany. On all of these trips I've managed to keep the weight (pack included) to around 12 pounds. On my bike trip from Passau Germany to Budapest, Hungary (via Austria and Slovakia) 2 years ago, everything I took (clothing, tools, spare inner tube, pump etc. fit into ONE pannier and one small handlebar bag!! The only exception was the Erie canal trip in early June this year when the total weight was 24 pounds due to the extra weight of the tent, sleeping bag, pad and stove...! Good luck and have a safe ride.
Camping at trailside locks -
Rick on 08/26/2021 11:48 AM
So I'm having a bit of difficulty understanding camping policies at the various locks. I understand that there are appx. 5 that allow camping and some of those have drinking water and restrooms, and maybe a shower. I called the Marina at Lock 21 Illion and was told $20 fee. I thought from reading these posts that camping at the locks was free.
I'm looking for clear, concise info regarding camping options I'd rather not hear smart remarks or "I stealth camped and thumbed my nose at authority." I prefer to do the right thing as some places are now off limits to trail riders because of behavior. Would like to hear from those who have done the ride, camped, and have useful info. I know I sound like a pain in the butt. Don't mean to but don't want to weed through a bunch of useless chatter. Thanks to all that can help.
Biker Girl from Rochester on 08/28/2021 12:19 PM
I rode west-bound in May, and camped half the time.
You are correct that there are several locks with some level of facilities. I don't believe any have showers, but many have portable toilets, and some have potable water.
Lock 15 is great - water, facilities, and even electricity.
Lock 20 is good - no potable water, yes on facilities.
Lock 21 is lovely, but without any water or facilities. It's also pretty remote, so you can't just pop into town.
Lock 30 had water, but no facilities in May. Might be different now, since two years ago they had them.
Lock 21 allows free camping at the lock. I'm guessing if you called the Marina, that wasn't the Canal system lock; hence the $20 fee.
You are allowed to camp any any lock, pending approval from the lock master, but there will not be any services.
We added a couple of hotel stops so we could have a shower twice on the ride.
Enjoy your ride!
Rick on 08/28/2021 03:45 PM
Biker Girl, Thank you. I called 2 numbers at Illion. One only rand. The 2nd answered and that was the Marina.
Dandy Don from Fairfield on 08/28/2021 04:59 PM
Yes, thank you Biker Girl.
Ray (webmaster) on 08/29/2021 08:27 AM
Thank you for that info Biker Girl. I have updated the website listings to reflect these details.
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/13/2021 05:35 PM
Rick -- the Illion Lock has a Town RV park. In COVID frantic June 2020, I stopped there and called the number posted at the building. The park manager allowed me to camp one night, but told me that the Town didn't allow tent camping, just RVs. It does make sense as there is just a back row of paved RV parking. I stayed on a grassy area on the far side near a pavillion.
In general... camping at Locks is allowed -- ideally with advance permission/notification (and same day is fine). On the eastern section you are not always right on the Canalway, so a Lock option may take planning to getbthere. I stayed at a public Marina in Little Falls that was great (pretty much legal), Lock 8 near Rotterdam was one of the best and not even mentioned above, as was the Lock at Fort Hunter. The Canalway is close enough to towns and facilities (convenient stores, restaurants, etc.) that finding camping support is easy. My advise is get out a map and do some planning to support the amount of miles you want to cover in a day and see where it puts you -- then see what's close and what options you have. Lighten up, have fun... it's an adventure after all!
Unity Island Park in Buffalo -
JTBiker from Greensburg PA on 08/30/2021 09:02 PM
Can you park for several days here?
What is the cost per day?
Is it safe to leave your vehicle for several days?
Bill in Houston from Houston on 09/13/2021 11:47 AM
I wouldn't leave my car there.
wnybubba from Bflo/Rochester on 09/13/2021 04:56 PM
JTBiker -- pretty much Unity Island isn't car accessable, but more of a walking Pier and any parking would be short-term. Looking for a place to leave your car? Right there is Rich Products who have a big parking area for both their offices and an event venue. Further north off Niagara Street there is a Marina (Harbor Place Marine) & West Marine store. Large parking lot there -- right on the bikepath. For either of these call and ask kindly ask permission.