Buffalo to Albany for a novice -
Kim from Long Island NY on 06/11/2021 11:06 AM
Hi, We are thinking of riding from Buffalo to Albany in September. I'm not super athletic but think I will be ok as long as the hills aren't awful. We only have 6 days. We would be taking Amtrak and starting from a hotel nearby the station and ending at the Albany Amtrak. Any helpful hints? Any hotel recommendations along the way. Is this doable? Tell me the good, bad and the ugly please!
If I had to cut out a section, which would you cut out? Which are the most scenic and least scenic parts?
Maggie from Lagrange on 06/12/2021 06:43 AM
We are starting our trip today - Buffalo to Syracuse. Will post how the train and hotel worked out in Buffalo.
Anonymous from Alexandria on 06/12/2021 07:30 AM
Very interested in your followup re train & hotel. We are making this same trip in August. Am concerned about riding thru city to get to Depew.
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 06/12/2021 01:06 PM
Kim from Long Island: Most of your questions will be easily answered if you scroll through the pages of other threads on this forum. All of these questions have been asked and answered many times before, you just have dig through a few pages. I think once you understand the trail towns, elevations, hotels, train connections, food options, etc, you will be much better informed to decide if this ride is possible for you. That said, this trail is doable for anyone as long as you have a few days in the saddle behind you and the appropriate gear and planning so you’re not miserable. : )
ECT section? -
Roger molleur from Connecticut on 06/01/2021 08:32 AM
I rode the ECT end to end 2 years ago and love it. My wife and I are driving to Lockport in 2 weeks and riding about 100 miles East and then back to Lockport (4-5 days)…. She does ride but not real long distances . I remember this being one of the more interesting sections…Am I right or perhaps a different section might be better…Any input is appreciated. Thanks…
Ohio Biker from Mason, Ohio on 06/09/2021 09:17 AM
We just got off the trail last week, Buffalo to Albany--great time (I am 61, female). Starting in Lockport is easy because that is where you will follow the canal in earnest--riding along side of it on crushed limestone for MANY miles--flat as can be & no shade. The canal is clean & pretty and there are some lovely homes with nice docks along the way.
No water or restrooms on trail--need to go into little towns and even then plan ahead. Some places we thought were still in business were boarded up.
Out of Medina, be sure and check out where the Canal runs over a road, down a steep hill but do-able--just go on foot.
We went to Albion for lunch (Village House Restaurant--great service, many food choices & pies). I could have explored Albion more, they had plenty of historical plaques around to read.
I also highly recommend in Fairport, The Village Inn Restaurant--met the owner and some regulars, very nice group of people.
One other tip is to avoid riding on Mondays, so many restaurants/bike shops are closed.
Bill in Houston from Houston on 06/09/2021 11:39 AM
The canal runs over a road somewhere near Medina? Where?
Ray (webmaster) on 06/09/2021 12:54 PM
Bill, the below article coincidentally just popped up in my newsfeed.
I went ahead and added this to the website as a "Point of Interest" - you can see it mapped on this page: https://bikeeriecanal.com/medina-culvert.aspx
There’s Only One Place in New York You Can Drive Under the Erie Canal
The Medina Culvert, built in 1823, is the only spot along the entire historic waterway where traffic can drive under the Erie Canal. It's located in Ridgeway, New York in Orleans County if you want to take this scary trip.
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 warmshowers.com if it was necessary.] Thanks in advance.
Chris from Long Island on 04/10/2021 09:56 PM
I am riding from Buffalo to Long Island at the end of May and I am struggling with finding places to stay south of Albany. If anyone has suggestions it would be great or if anyone knows of an interactive web page similar to this page for the portion of the Empire State Trail from Albany to NYC
Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 04/11/2021 09:41 AM
Look at Fahnstock State Park & Bear Mountain SP & Harriman SP
Also look into Warmshowers.org
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 04/11/2021 12:15 PM
Bktourer1: To use Warmshowers, would I need to list my own home as a place people could stay? Is that generally how it works and the minimum requirement? I don’t live right on a trail. Thanks.
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/11/2021 03:40 PM
I've been looking around and have come up with some options -- I'll let you know how things progress. For my tour, I have friends in Kingston that I will stay with. The second overnight is where I am finding that nothing apparent is close-by. FWI, I noticed that one 20+ mile section runs along an abandoned (I believe) railway and appears quite isolated from everything -- woods on either side, underpasses so you are not at ground level at many intersections, etc. It's quite different. (BTW, I could see this on Goggle Satellite view.)
Yes, warmshowers.com is a member community where you return favors of hosting. Quite frankly, it's not an issue of whether you are on a trail or not -- just that you will -- at some time (not always) -- offer a place to stay. Those who host most generally enjoy being able to meet people and engage in sharing stories. However, accepting a member as a guest is up to the host. He/she may/may not chose to offer you a place after you inquire, and you do not have to *always* be accepting guests. Also, as a host you can offer different options from camp in my yard and use my bathroom to stay in a bedroom, bathe, have dinner and breakfast and hang out together during your stay. It's up to the host. I'm a host with a great three bedroom lower area with private bath, family room, kitchenette and separate entrance but really not near any trail. Letchworth State Park is about 16 miles away -- conceivably a biking destination and about 3 miles (uphill) from State Bike Route 19.
I really couldn't find any good options as far as State Parks or state land. Fahnstock State Park is a good 12 miles from the Empire State Trail. For me, that is way too far off trail to be a consideration.
Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 04/11/2021 03:49 PM
I too am a hoster on warmshowers, the state parks I mentioned were the only ones I had any info about as I used them for AT camping.c
PTNY at one time did a ride I believe from ALbany to NYC. Maybe they still have cues for that trip with info
Ray (webmaster) on 04/24/2021 09:52 AM
Unfortunately I came up mostly empty on looking for camping between Albany and NYC.
I expected that some of the towns along the trail would be willing to let cyclists set up a tent in their local city parks - this is a common practice along other long-distance trails like the Katy Trail in MO and Cowboy Trail in NE where the trail towns welcome cyclists to overnight in city parks. However, after talking with the parks people and/or town hall people in about a dozen communities between Albany and NYC, every last one of them told me that cyclists are NOT allowed to set up a tent in the town parks.
There are two established campgrounds along this portion of the Empire State Trail, not on the trail but within a reasonable distance for cyclists - Sam Pryor Campground near New Paltz, and Sylvan Lake near Hopewell Junction. However, both sites require riding a few miles on county roads. The road to Pryor lacks a good shoulder about half the way.
I wrote up everything I could find on this web page: Camping Along the Empire State Trail
If anybody knows of, or discovers any other good camping options, please share the info. Lack of camping options will discourage many touring cyclists from using the Hudson Valley portion of the Empire State Trail.
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 04/25/2021 11:29 AM
Thanks to everyone on this thread for your feedback. It looks as if the majority of camping on this route, sadly, will be “credit card camping”. : ) Unless you go the stealth route or warm showers route.
Ray (webmaster) on 06/08/2021 09:16 PM
I recently learned about one other camping option between Albany and NYC: Livingston State Forest allows PRIMITIVE camping. The park is along the Empire State Trail a little north of Linlithgo, between Hudson and Germantown.
Here's a page with a map and contact info:
Little Falls to Albany camping trailside or nearby -
Eric B from Albany on 06/24/2020 10:22 AM
I'm hoping to do a short three day trip from Little Falls to Albany with my son, going 30-40 miles each day. It looks like there isn't really much official Canal Lock camping that could help us out but I'm wondering how easy it is to just pitch a tent near the trail. We can certainly ask permission and should be able to bring most of the food and other amenities with us. Hoping to stop in Auriesville and maybe Scotia/Schenectady
wnybubba from Bflo - Roc on 06/25/2020 12:06 AM
Should not really be a problem. I believe that you are welcome to use grassy areas for setting up tent without issue -- either unofficially or with some degree of permission. Before my recent trip, I spoke with Canal Corp personnel and decided that "Better to Ask for Forgiveness than Ask Permission" policy made more sense -- but I never had issues with finding an acceptable place to tent on my travels (whether on Canal Corp land or not). In any event... there are plenty of places along the trail or near intersections that are ideal for pitching camp. Suggestion I got and will pass along -- have a sign that states who you are and what you are doing and hang it on your tent or gear. (I put my cell number on my sign so if any one had any issue they could call me to talk it over.)
Lastly, there are so many easy places along the trail for food that it's almost unnecessary to carry anymore that a night's food -- and that just in case you decide to camp away from services.
When you get to into more planning detail, post a message and I'll try to give you some info about space and what's available, etc.
Not sure what your thinking is, but this is certainly doable:
Little Falls -> Lock 12 @ Fort Hunter/Tribes Hill is excellent. Deli just up the road (and up the hill) Left and next block.
Lock 7 -- Looks like there are perfect picnic grounds there good for setting up tent. (My ride took me from Lock 12 to Lock E2, so I didn't make a overnight in this area.) I use Google maps and go to Street View to scope out areas - that's what I just did here. Lock 7 Road.
Then Lock E2 for sure -- it has a nice area to set up tent. There is even an electrical outlet on the telephone pole in the corner (as well on the outside of the building), picnic tables, etc. Several food options just a couple blocks away - I hit Mr. Subb and it was good.
Then it's a fun ride into the Capital. Just 10 miles.
Eric B from Albany on 06/25/2020 08:27 AM
That sounds like great advice, wnybubba. I will definitely check out your suggestions and try to post before we take off in a few weeks. Looking forward to it!
Eric B from Albany on 06/02/2021 01:11 PM
Finally getting around to doing this trip with my son this weekend. We hope to make it from Little Falls to Lock 12 (about 40 miles) and hope to camp there, and then get into Waterford the next day. I stopped at the Waterford visitor center and chatted with the nice guys stationed in the office. Looks like a great place to spend the night and then a quick jaunt south into Albany.
Anyone else have experience camping at Lock 12 in Tribes Hill?
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/02/2021 02:10 PM
As I stated in my original post above, Tribes Hill (Lock 12) is an ideal spot -- highly recommend. It's quite scenic and the waterway sound will lull you to sleep. The Lock is also fun to explore up close and see the hydraulic system that is easily visible. The only downfall (compared to some other Locks) is that there are not any close-by facilities. I mentioned that there is a deli up the hill with restrooms.
Save this great resource for the morning: Evolve Eatery in S. Amsterdam. The food is healthy and delicious and will start your day off with a smile and full stomach. They are recently listed as some kind of affiliation with the Canal (not sure exactly what). They are located literally a few hundred feet off the Canalway bikepath (look right as you come into town at Bridge Street). It's a fairly short ride form Lock 12.
Lastly - for your comfort in staying at Lock 12, call them and ask them for confirmation. Last year when I stayed the Canalway was not open, so no-one was around upon my arrival. I thanked them in the morning. Here is the Lock 12 phone: (518) 829-7331
Waterford, BTW, is another great place to camp. There is a live outlet on the telephone pole in the far corner (and an out-building next to the grass area had a live plug as well.) You are also only a few block to Main Street business with convenient store, pizza places and others. Enjoy your ride!
Eric B from Albany on 06/02/2021 03:28 PM
thanks very much for the information. i will definitely call ahead to the Lock 12 staff to make sure we're good to go.
Eric from Albany on 06/06/2021 08:04 PM
Just a quick ride report. Nice camping at Lock 12. Trains until 11 pm on Saturday night but otherwise very peaceful. The trail just east of Little Falls was some pretty deep stone dust. I’m not sure if they are laying it on heavier so it spreads and dissipates but it was a little slippery fully loaded. It was only for about 3-4 miles. Deli in Tribes Hill makes a nice sub but not open on Sunday morning and the Evolve eatery in South Amsterdam was also closed Sunday. I need to plan food options better! Made it from Tribes Hill home to South Albany County today but it was hot!
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/06/2021 10:57 PM
Well, glad you had a good trip, Eric. Sorry you missed out on Evolve Eatery -- it is very special and quite hip. Lock 12 - yep, pretty good stuff. Did you get in touch with the Lock operator prior?
Eric B from Albany on 06/08/2021 08:19 AM
Called the Lock 12 operator on Thursday and asked about camping on Saturday night. He said "How many?" I said, "Just two people, one tent." He said, "Oh sure, no problem!"
I think he initially thought me and my entire biker gang were coming. ;0)
When we arrived and introduced ourselves, they were more than friendly and even offered us the chance to refill our water from their bottle water cooler, which was very cold and very welcome on a 90 degree day.
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/08/2021 05:31 PM
It's a wonderful life! Glad it all went well.
Pittsford to Syracuse -
Paul from Amherst, NY on 06/08/2021 08:31 AM
I did the Lockport to Pittsford ride this past Saturday. I'm planning to now ride the Pittsford to Syracuse section the last Saturday of the month.
Any tips or suggestions on riding the trail and sight seeing.
Paul from Amherst, NY on 06/08/2021 09:01 AM
I'm looking for the best way to get back to Pittsford. That's where my car will be.
Lockport to Pittsford ride -
Paul from Amherst, NY on 05/27/2021 09:26 AM
I plan on biking from Lockport to Pittsford in June. Are their any closures or detours I should be aware of? I plan on leaving at 6:00AM.
Also, are their any certain supplies I should bring with me?
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 05/27/2021 10:00 AM
It's a piece of cake! You'll enjoy the ride.
No closures that I am aware of, however, I will admit that I find following the trail through Genesee Valley Park in Rochester to be a bit confusing. I don't think I've done it right (or the same) yet! LOL
Best part is getting to Pittsford and enjoying a treat at Pittsford Dairy -- just off the trail. Yum!
[Obviously take some water and your cell phone. There are plenty of places to re-fill along the way. I generally have sun protection and a small spray bottle of insect repellant -- just in case.]
Paul from Amherst, NY on 06/07/2021 08:42 AM
I made the ride this past Saturday. Great ride except when I arrived in Rochester. Not very good signage. FYI, I ran out of water has I entered Greece. I had one water bottle and two 20oz bottles. I would have been nice to have two more of the 20 oz. I might ride it again sometime in August. Who knows, I might do it next Saturday 6/12. Took some good pics on the ride has well.
Bop from Rochester on 06/07/2021 01:45 PM
There's a water fountain at Spencerport near the gazebo on the east side. There may be one between the two lift bridges at Brockport. Not certain on this.
There's a gas station, store on Long Pond Rd, where you cross the canal by bridge. Just a few tenths of a mile north on Long Pond.
NYC to Buffalo - on foot -
Ray (webmaster) on 06/05/2021 12:05 PM
The interesting people you meet on the trail....
I joined my son a couple weeks ago for the last 100 miles of his Niagara Falls - Albany - NYC oddyssey. Along the way, we crosssed paths with Ken Burke of Buffalo, who was following the Empire State Trail route to RUN from NYC to Buffalo. 565 miles. On foot. With a target of 50 miles per day. And self-supported. Really!
If that's not incredible enough... he is a kidney donor from last year, and he shattered his leg 3 years ago and was told he would never run again.
Ken succeeded, arriving in Buffalo on May 31 after 11 days of running.
I was so impressed by Ken's story that I put together a web page with some photos, links, and additional details:
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/05/2021 12:48 PM
WoW! That's crazy, incredible and heartwarming! Thanks for sharing and creating the interesting page, Ray. I can't imagine pushing a jogging cart all that way.
Wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 06/05/2021 02:06 PM
Wow! This is an amazing feat! It's like running 2 marathons a day for 12 days in a row! I can't wrap my head around it. I respectfully take my hat (ok, my bike helmet!) off to Ken! He's not only an excellent athlete but a wonderful human being. My wife is also a kidney donor (46+ year ago) but can't run even 1 mile. I'm a polio survivor but cannot hike 25 miles a day let alone run! Ken will be my inspiration when I start my Bflo-Albany ride next Monday. Ray, thanks for the forum and the story.
Best Interactive Map? -
Bill in Houston from Houston on 06/02/2021 11:02 AM
The map here on this site and the map over at Parks and Trails New York are pretty dramatically different in some places.
An example would be east of Clyde, or west of Syracuse.
Any reason to pick one over the other?
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 06/02/2021 07:00 PM
I can’t speak for this sites map (Ray the Webmaster would have way more insight on it than me anyways) but the PTNY map is geared towards the annual “Cycle the Erie Canal” ride.
That ride has to get cyclists and volunteers to different schools and park grounds to tent between 600-700 people at each overnight town. So that route will stray a bit
Ray (webmaster) on 06/02/2021 08:24 PM
If you see differences in routes, it's because the map on this website is the original Erie Canalway route from a couple years ago. The route has varied in a couple places. But as John pointed out, the PTNY map is not necessarily the current route either; it is their best route for moving hundreds of people in the big annual ride.
For the most current Erie Canalway trail route, see the interactive map in our sister website BikeEmpireState.com. https://bikeempirestate.com/empire-state-trail-map.aspx The BikeEmpireState.com map shows the route of the Empire State Trail, which includes the Erie Canalway but also adds Albany to NYC and Albany to Canada.
I believe the best features of our interactive maps are:
- the ability to put mile markers on the map, originating from any of the towns along the trail (BikeErieCanal.com and BikeEmpireState.com)
- more complete business and service listings (BikeErieCanal.com)
- ability to see a list of businesses and services under the map (BikeErieCanal.com)
- our maps are actual Google maps with the features added on. This allows you to easily use Google features like Street View and Satellite view, on top of the features we have added
- our maps remember your settings (if you have cookies enabled). So for example, you might set up your map to show mile markers every 5 miles starting at Pittsford, with "pin" markers to show hotels and campsites. When you return to the map at a later time, it automatically remembers these customizations so you see the same map as before.
One advantage that the PTNY map does have over our maps, is that it shows the surface type of the different sections (i.e. paved or not). This is a feature that I hope to eventually add here.
There is one other interactive map that I know of, on the "official" Empire State Trail website: https://empiretrail.ny.gov/map It also shows surface types, but limited info on businesses and services. Our BikeEmpireState.com map matches the route on this map.
I don't know if this helps, but that's my perspective. The answer may be to check them all out and go with whatever you feel most comfortable using. Or use a combination, for example use PTNY to see the trail surfaces, and use BikeErieCanal.com to see distances from your starting point and business listings.
Good luck and happy trails!
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/02/2021 11:44 PM
Awesome Ray. I figured that you would chime in. I agree that using an assortment of maps available is the best solution to planning a successful trip/tour. I have mentioned before how much I believe using Google Maps Street and Satellite mode help in understanding the trail and surrounding areas, so kudos to you Ray (and Google Maps) for having that resource available.
So just to muddy the water a little more... there is an additional map available and it may be the more "official" of any, it's the map from the Canalway Corporation (https://www.canals.ny.gov/maps/index.html?layer=trail).
Don't get too excited though... it really only shows the Canalway trail with "existing" and "proposed" trails marked. So where there are on-road sections, they are all marked as "proposed" trail. Interestingly, it also shows sections of the trail as proposed that are branch trails that connect to areas away from the canal -- example being a proposed trail to Seneca Lake.
Regardless, I had understood that the trail had been re-routed coming out of Clyde heading south using Tyre Road (CR 372) and continuing onto Armitage Road that connects back to Route 31. What this does is eliminate a section of Route 31 that is fairly busy before and after Savannah, NY. None of the Maps (including Empire or Corp) show this to be the case, but on next weeks ride you will find me on Tyre Road!
Thanks Ray for your good work. Much appreciated.
Bill in Houston from Houston on 06/03/2021 08:11 AM
Ahh, thank you all for explaining. I really do like the interactive map on this site, so I am glad to hear it's preferred.
I'll go look at the newer map on the bikeempirestate site to make sure that I am not missing any big recent improvements.
Thanks again for the help, and thanks especially to Ray for maintaining this resource.
maggie from Lagrange on 06/04/2021 01:05 PM
I'll be riding from Buffalo to Syracuse for the first time in about a week. Would it be safe to say that the Tyre Rd. route has much less traffic and easier riding for someone that doesn't do much road riding? How busy is 31 and are the shoulders fairly wide? Is it safe to say the distance is comparable with either route?
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/04/2021 07:06 PM
I think that the distance it about the same. I thought coming out of Savannah was a pain -- I followed EST signs that I thought were routing me across the road and onto a gravel truck route -- turns out I was wrong and learned not to pay any attention to EST signs as they are typically not directional, rather just marking the trail's existence. As you leave town you also go over a somewhat steep overpass on Rt 31, and, Rt 31 is a fairly busy highway (not crazy busy, but well used and cars/trucks at speed between Savannah and Montezuma). There is a moderate shoulder for most of the stretch, but there are a couple places where there are guardrails quite close leaving minimal (if any) shoulder/apron.
The Tyre Road section looks like a nicely paved secondary road. No shoulders, but it's a typical country road. Looks pretty flat and you should not have issue being seen and/or seeing traffic approaching.
Lastly, I'm pretty sure this is going to be the case -- that even taking the Tyre Road alternative, you will still hit the section where the guardrails are encroaching on the apron. But. hey... I made it through last year unscaved! I'm opting for Tyre Road next week.
Maggie from Lagrange on 06/05/2021 08:24 AM
Thanks for the info. I’m leaning toward Tyre Rd. route.
Erie Canal / Empire State Trail Signs -
Mark from Alexandria, VA on 06/04/2021 08:39 AM
Hello. Just completed the ride with a group of friends.
I'm wondering if there is anywhere to buy the trail signs? Either replicas OR used ones that have been taken down.
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/04/2021 07:12 PM
For Erie Canalway signs, try The Canal Corporation.
Phone for Canal Trail Information: 518-449-6038
I have found the Canal Corp very open to discussion, information.
If you want an Empire State Trail sign -- not sure about that. I'd try I Love NY [800 CALL NYS · email@example.com] as a starting place.
So, Mark, post a trip report about your ride here! Let us know how it went.
places to camp along the wy free and pay -
Nancy kehn from Suffolk county NY on 06/03/2021 07:59 AM
Hi, We've rode from west Syracuse to Niagara, this year we are doing east Syrause to Albany (and back). The west side of canal had many villages and locks where you could camp on the village greens or near locks for free (limit 4 tents). Does anyone have camping info for East side of canal path?
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 06/03/2021 12:43 PM
Nancy, you might want to start by using the Trip Planner feature on this website. It will show campsites (and anything else you choose) from the starting and ending points that you choose. After you have reviewed that, possibly you will have some more specific questions to ask.