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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Erie Canal Bike Trail.
 
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The Trail Observations
 - 
MJ from Skaneateles on 10/17/2020 11:30 AM
I rode the Erie Canal trail last week from Buffalo to Albany. I used my rode bike without any issues although the trail has a lot of varied conditions. The trail is a resource with a ton of potential. But present day conditions in many areas leave a lot to be desired. It amazed me that some areas are paved, others crushed cinder and others packed dirt. I was happy not to have to repair any flats. Also was amazed how little those who live near the canal know about it including where the trail start is in their town. At one point I was down to an 18 inch wide strip of a trail - fortunately not for a very long distance. I expected these varied conditions but could imagine how exceptional the experience will be once the trail has consistently good pavement for riding. What disappointed me was how poor the directional signs are along the trail. Some are so faded you had to get really close to them to see which way the arrow was pointing. And in other instances you’d follow that arrow only to not find another sign that would tell you where to turn next. Once I found myself dumped off the trail into a large course stone lot where I had to carry my bike. Fortunately someone came along who pointed me where to head on the other side of the lot. I had several instance where the trail was closed for construction with no detour signs. The Erie Canal Trail interactive map really isn’t interactive to a large degree. A huge opportunity to improve this. There is an icon on the site for GPS that didn’t work for me. The website was helpful though in identifying places along the trail for an easy off hotel room. As for the canal some areas are wonderful areas of recreation with working locks. Other areas are abandoned algae covered stagnant waterways long ago abandoned. The green algae rivals the green landscapes in Ireland! I loved it when local pride took some ownership of the trail. Even with that don’t plan on any restrooms along the way with limited exceptions. Porta potties would have been welcomed. Also mile markers along the route would have been nice. I know that there are plans to spend millions of taxpayer money to improve the trail. In the near-term take a few thousands of dollars to do some intermediate things that would make immediate and simple improvements.

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 10/17/2020 11:06 PM
MJ: Great recap and I liked with your opinion that it has a lot of potential but also leaves a lot to be desired. I agree with the need for some simple improvements to make it easier to navigate.

The signage, both mile markers and directional signs, are severely lacking or poor overall. This is one thing they could easily and cheaply fix first and foremost. I did the organized PTNY Cycle the Erie Canal tour and they have some painted markers at turns and some of us still got lost a few times! They need accurate mile markers from Buffalo to Albany. How has this never been done yet?

In addition, where does the trail end and begin? They need some medallion or sign to lets people know you've reached Mile 0 or the end to celebrate their accomplishment. In Buffalo, I think the end/beginning is the Commercial Slip at Canalside. In Albany, I think the end/beginning is that Jennings Landing. That's my guess but neither contain a sign saying so. Is this really going to break their budget by adding these? Some informational signs as you approach towns would be helpful as it could list the miles to the next 2-3 towns plus all logos for food, water, lodging. This helps both cyclists and businesses.

I accept that there are different surfaces. I actually don't mind a mix of some dirt mule paths, crushed limestone, or paved asphalt as long as it's smooth. It gives the trail some character. I will say some of the crushed limestone gets soupy when it rains and doesn't drain as good as a rail-trail does (due to the ballast left underneath). As long as they keep on top of the bumpy tree roots under the asphalt, any really bad washouts of the limestone, and potholes/cracks, I'm fine with it. I don't expect them to ever pave the entire thing.

Bathrooms are severely lacking. Parks and Trails New York (PTNY) manages the trail and I'd like to see them devote some cash to some more port a johns and water faucets spaced along the trail.

In addition, perhaps later in the future, how about some campsites? It would be great to be able to stay the night and camp along the trail.

As for locals not really knowing about the trail, I think they may know about it as a waterway but not as a recreational trail. Seems odd to me as people from all over use the Erie Canal not just to cross the state but for some, its just one state while crossing the entire country, some from overseas. I know the GAP trail (Pittsburgh to Cumberland) has a had a very visible "Trail Towns" business marketing push and this has led to great things for cyclists in these pass through towns. Restaurants, bike repair shops, lodging, etc. marketed and targeted to cyclists and it's been very successful. Maybe when this becomes part of the greater Empire State Trail, they will make better push with these towns for them to realize what a gem they have on their hands.

Yeah, that interactive map is poor and needs updated. On top of that, I'd like to see them create some real PDF map like the GAP or C&O Canal. These show all of the water fountains, towns with restaurants, camping sites, bike repair shops, picnic areas, and mile markers.

John

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 10/29/2020 01:03 PM
John covered the situation pretty well, but here's a couple of my comments for balance. Signage is certainly not up to par and, as John mentioned, shouldn't take much to improve. The "Empire State Trial" signs are a waste in that they are not directional but rather simply markers (and mostly right along a Canalway sign). Personally, I could care less about mileage markers, but that's just a personal opinion. However, I did have success with following Google Maps in "Bike" route mode. It lead me onto the Canalway and, if I was confused, got me to the right place. I found that any detours were marked fine. Regarding services like water and potty stops -- I never had an issue with using local convenient stores or restaurants, etc. and... I traveled in June at the height of COVID-19 situation. I would like to see cyclist campsites identified or developed. Bikepacking is becoming ever more popular -- I think I traveled as a modified bikepacker -- not minimalist, but certainly light and efficient. Lastly, trail surfaces -- I agree with John about variety making it interesting. I disliked the pavement with tree roots greatly. On a recent ride (I believe in the Boston area) I saw that they had scrapped away the bulging surfaces -- somewhat like they do to reclaim roadway surfaces. Not the best, but it took away the bumpy ride. Bike on -- it's all a great adventure!

 
MJ From Skaneateles on 10/20/2020 on 11/17/2020 10:12 AM
Good comments from John and Bubba.

I didn’t venture off trail much except after a long day of riding to find a place to stay for the night. Most convenience stores, etc are not visible from the trail so you would need to stop and use your smart phone to try to figure out where you are and how to find them. That’s why I think their website could be made more useful, that trail signs letting know where you are could be more frequent, and directional signs improved. Your GPS comment was helpful. Porta potties seems like a low cost item for the Parks to consider. I frankly am miffed why they aren’t present anywhere. John, I agree that knowing where the trail begins and ends would be nice! And, while you hit mud on the cinder parts I went during a dry spell that kicked up a lot of stone dust. I’m fine too with the variable types of trail surfaces but I think pavement is way to go for the future. I also got jarred more than once by tree roots bulging the pavement. I was surprised my road bike tires tolerated them. Some areas did have then scraped down like Bubba suggests but it was inconsistent which is why I think the Parks awareness, oversight and ownership of the entire trail could be improved with some pretty simple, low soft measures.

As mentioned the Trail is a great resource and has great potential to be spectacular. I definitely could see riding it again. It has much to offer in the current context and could be so much greater in the future.

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 11/19/2020 02:48 PM
Nice MJ. I think we are all on the same page with what the trail currently offers, the improvements that could easily be made and the enhancements that could make it, as you suggested, spectacular. I'm hoping that the Canalway Corp does some monitoring on this site to see our suggestions.

Glad I could be of some help. The only thing I think I may have done that might be worth mentioning here is that I did ask a bunch of questions of residents, other riders, canal personnel or store/business owners fairly often and found that any advise that I was given was spot on. Possibly I got more direction on what was around for food, supplies and repairs that I needed and didn't have to consult my smart phone as much. Regardless, internet availability seemed ever-present, so answers were only a tap or two away.

Glad your road bike made it without issues and happy that you had an enjoyable ride. I think I'm up for another tour next year, but know that the C&O (and possibly with the GAP) are in the plans. :-)

 
John from Cobleskill on 11/20/2020 09:28 AM
I grew up in and around Syracuse so I know it well. But riding the Erie Canal this summer through Syracuse was a very tough. The signage is the worst. How hard would it be to put up a bunch of signs that gave you some clue that you are on the right path?

 
Bop from Rochester on 11/20/2020 03:55 PM
I only know the canal from Palmyra west. Looking at the site map, I'm surprised by the numbers of roads one must ride father east. It looks to be all roads going through Syracuse. Or I'm reading the map wrong?

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 11/23/2020 10:08 PM
Bop - no, you're reading it correctly. The trail (or route) goes on city street right through SYR. I thought it was okay - but I did manage to bust a spoke -- probably from the crappy road surface.

IAs I was entering the SYR looked at the Guide map and then brought up Google maps and used BIKE mode -- the map routed me the same way! So, I just followed the map directions from my phone. No issue at all. However, I'm comfortable with city riding and sorta enjoy the change.

 
Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 11/24/2020 08:40 AM
According to the official website, that section of the EST will not open until 2021: https://empiretrail.ny.gov/syracuse-utica/syracuse-dewitt

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 11/30/2020 01:43 AM
Bktourer1 - Interesting how they are routing the path. No doubt a pathway running in the center of Erie Blvd should be reminiscent of the GAP Trail coming out of PGH along the interstate. Thanks for the link.


Marathon in Palmyra
 - 
Dl from Shortsville on 11/27/2020 09:26 PM
Experienced 3 or 4 different employees at this store none of which ever had a mask on ,disturbing


Albany to Buffalo - are winds an obstacle?
 - 
bikegal from Kane, PA on 09/15/2020 09:29 PM
Hello! I was planning to bike from Albany to Buffalo because that works better with my travel plans, but I've read about westerly winds being worse this way. Is that the case? Does it make much of a difference? I'm planning to ride the first week in October. I could rearrange my trip if that is advisable, so I'm curious!

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 09/16/2020 08:43 AM
Generally, the wind goes W-E but it’s not always the case and not guaranteed.

The only thing to do is keep an eye out for the forecast and see if there’s any pattern to the winds and change trip direction if it looks like you’ll get better winds going another way.

 
Yankee John from Vermont on 09/16/2020 09:52 AM
The prevailing wind is not much of a factor on the eastern part of the trail because it is heavily wooded and it mostly follows a low corridor with an escarpment on both sides so the wind tends to swirl in the depression. Much of the western part of the trail, roughly from Spencerport to Lockport, is elevated from the surrounding terrain and very exposed. It can really be a slog on a hot sunny day riding west into a strong westerly wind. Unfortunately the Army Corps of Engineers cut down most of the large trees in this section several years ago because they were a threat to the integrity of the canal. New trees are still small and not as close to the edge of the canal so there is little shade and little protection from the wind.

 
bikegal from Kane, PA on 09/21/2020 03:34 PM
Thanks for this info! I think I'm going to keep my original route and prepare my legs for some extra resistance. Still open to comments if anyone else has perspective!

 
John W. from Pittsburgh,PA on 09/23/2020 03:02 PM
Bikegal, give us recap of your journey when you’re done!!

John

 
bikegal from Kane, PA on 11/17/2020 05:05 PM
It's been a minute, but I did complete the ride from Albany to Buffalo! It was in early/mid-October, so the foliage was gorgeous. On the eastern part of the trail, the wind wasn't bad at all. On the western part, it was a slog. The wind was pretty aggressive and the ride was slow going. The views were lovely, but most of the open canal was brutal riding. Maybe part of it was the time of year and the weather, but it seemed like the prevailing winds were a strong force. I'm still glad I went east to west because that's the direction I needed to travel and the eastern part of the trail is especially scenic, but I would recommend west to east for wind.

 
MJ From Skaneateles on 10/20/2020 on 11/17/2020 06:47 PM
i agree West to East probably better. Although I had tailwinds leaving Buffalo when I started that changed to headwinds for the second half. Nothing huge but slowed me a couple of mph.

Kane and I may have passed each other going in opposite directions!

 
bikegal from Kane, PA on 11/17/2020 07:27 PM
It's been a minute, but I did complete the ride from Albany to Buffalo! It was in early/mid-October, so the foliage was gorgeous. On the eastern part of the trail, the wind wasn't bad at all. On the western part, it was a slog. The wind was pretty aggressive and the ride was slow going. The views were lovely, but most of the open canal was brutal riding. Maybe part of it was the time of year and the weather, but it seemed like the prevailing winds were a strong force. I'm still glad I went east to west because that's the direction I needed to travel and the eastern part of the trail is especially scenic, but I would recommend west to east for wind.

 
Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 11/19/2020 10:05 AM
The winds are worse from West to East. That's why Mt. Washington has the worst weather


Herkimer 5s
 - 
D M on 08/11/2020 08:48 AM
Does anyone know of backroads to take on the 20 mile route on 5s outside of Herkimer?

 
wnybubba from Bflo - Roc on 08/12/2020 12:53 PM
Not a direct answer to your question, but you would be following Bike Route 5. Nice bike shoulder lane on a state highway. I don't remember it being dangerous or uncomfortable at all. Admittedly, I'm fine on state roadways and have a decent rear view mirror so I know what's going on around me.

 
Yankee John from Braintree, VT on 09/06/2020 06:56 PM
There are some beautiful roads with open country and Amish farms and little traffic on both the south (5S) and north sides but they are really hilly!

 
RussfromErie from Erie on 11/18/2020 12:48 PM
It’s funny that you commented on Route 5S outside of Herkimer. This past summer while biking the Erie Canal path, my friend and I ended up on 5S thinking we were on the canal trail. We biked the 2 most longest and steepest hills that I have ever biked. Finally at the top of the second hill we sensed something was wrong, thinking hills this big would surely not be part of the bike route. After studying google maps, we realized we were riding parallel to the trail path located several thousand feet below us. That was an exhausting day. We are not sure how we missed a trail sign (though we did serval times throughout our trip) but I still blame my biking partner thinking he saw a sign for ice cream just ahead.


Paved Erie Canal Trail Parking in Utica
 - 
Bruce from BAINBRIDGE on 11/07/2020 10:26 AM
With the bridge closed how does one access the Barnes Ave parking?


Aqueduct Park in Palmyra
 - 
Anonymous on 11/07/2020 01:16 AM
As of November 6 2020 the Canalway Trail over the Palmyra Ganargua/Mud Creek Aqueduct is barricaded and marked closed (the structure may be in danger of collapsing?). A detour utilizing Quaker Road is indicated, but that route is quite narrow without significant shoulders and no marked bike lanes.


Amtrak Station in Albany
 - 
Ed Marrone from Springfield (NYC Native) on 10/29/2020 10:11 AM
Can I or not load a bike in Albany to Buffalo on Lake Shore?
Amtrak sched states yes but *00 phone number has different train numbers that what's currently posted. I live in Springfield MA and don't want to drive to NYC to load up. Looking to ride Erie Canal in the Spring. Know I will hit Buffalo after midnight so that's no problem

Thanks

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 10/29/2020 12:42 PM
Ed - I just checked and it is the Empire Service that comes into BUF (Depew) from ALB (Rensselaer). I looked into 2021 and the schedule is only open into APR, with trains arriving at 6PM or 9PM which seems earlier than I recall trains arriving in BUF (and is the same on the current schedule). I believe that roll-off service is only available at Depew and not Exchange Street -- Depew being an eastern suburban (not too far from the BUF Airport). So, yeah, it should work if you check about roll-on service status... and it looks like the near midnight arrival may not be true anymore. (Give me a shout if you need any help at BUF end.)

 
EDMUND J MARRONE from SPRINGFIELD on 10/29/2020 02:28 PM
Thanks for the assist. There is some conflicting info from Amtrak as the Lake Shore 48 & 49 will carry bikes and he #800 number from Amtrak told me I can’t leave from Albany. The trip is for the Spring so I have plenty of research time.

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 10/30/2020 03:39 PM
I'm thinking that this is the same as BUF in ALB - that Rensselaer is the roll-on station not Albany station. Agree you have plenty of time to figure it out -- and half the fun is preparing, right?

 
kmart from Manchester NH on 10/30/2020 04:52 PM
I did the Erie Canal bike trip from Buffalo to Albany in September. We rented a van at the Albany airport and drove to Buffalo and dropped the the van off at the Buffalo airport. We parked our car at the Rensselaer train station for the week. The hotel in Buffalo had an airport shuttle, so you can drop your bikes off at the hotel and then drop the rental at the airport and shuttle back to the hotel. Due to COVID the shuttle wasn't operating, so I had to uber back. I think a rental is better than Amtrak if you have multiple people in your group.


End to End record?
 - 
Tristan on 09/01/2020 10:06 PM
Does anyone know what the fastest time for the End to End ride is? I've looked online and can't seem to find any source that would indicate what the record time would be.

I'm planning on an end to end ride in a few weeks and hoping to finish in around 30 hours, but I'm curious if that would set a record or come close to a record.

 
Bop from Rochester on 09/02/2020 10:14 AM
Haven't seen anything like that.

Will this be non-stop? You know the canal is closed after dark?

 
wnybubba from Bflo - Roc on 09/02/2020 01:03 PM
I checked on https://fastestknowntime.com and didn't find anything either. My thought is that either PTNY or the Canal Corp would be the best resources to ask. If neither of them have any record, then I'd say go for it and set it in place! Keep us posted here and good luck.

 
Michael from Buffalo on 09/12/2020 08:00 PM
Why bother,it's trail,meant to be savored wand enjoyed.
Want a record,go to the roads

 
Tristan on 09/14/2020 01:38 PM
Well, I ended up doing it. West to east, starting at Veterans Park in Buffalo and ending at the Corning Preserve in Albany. It took 32 Hours 2 Min.

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5532806302

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 09/14/2020 09:24 PM
Tristan - Thats incredible. After 32 hours, I’d just be hitting town on night 2 of a weeklong trip!

How was riding at night? Any delays that you encountered? Where did you catch z’s (if you did catch any)? Love to hear about some of the details of your journey.

Well done...

John

 
Tristan on 09/15/2020 12:05 PM
Riding at night was no problem, I've done a couple other long rides that went into the night so I was prepared...I had multiple light sources with extra batteries. Riding in the dark didn't really slow me down either, and made riding through towns a little easier because there was no traffic.

I didn't face any delays, no flat tires or bike issues, but I did make a huge mistake around Port Byron and got turned around, not realizing I was going to wrong direction for about 2.5 miles. The biggest issue I ran into with time was just stopping to eat/rest. Of the 32 hours of elapsed time almost 6 hours was spent not moving. I was carrying a bunch of granola bars, some soda and a 2 liter bladder full of water, but that was not enough to get me through the whole ride so I would frequently stop at gas stations and buy some gatorade, beef jerky, candy, chips, sandwiches, more water. Late in the ride I felt like I was stopping more frequently and for a longer time than in the beginning. I would stop maybe every 20 miles for about 20 min...all that time added up.

I did not sleep at all during the ride, around 24 hours in was when I really started to get tired, at times feeling like I was dozing off with my eyes open while riding even when it got light out...by the time I got to Little Falls the thought of spending an hour or something sleeping on the side of the trail was tempting but something I wanted to avoid just to finish quicker.

I felt one of the biggest challenges of the ride was the wind. As soon as I got on the canal in Lockport I was constantly riding into the wind. This slowed me down a bit, and caused me to use up more energy than I would have liked.

I stopped for "breakfast" in Frankfort, and between there and Rotterdam Junction I was having trouble finding gas stations or restaurants that were open... I was feeling tired, hungry and I was using up all the extra calories I was carrying with me and by that point I was realizing that I wasn't going to make my goal of finishing in 30 hours or less.

The final stretch from Schenectady to Albany went by alright, mostly just trying to push through and finish...it felt like the wind got worse as I got closed to Albany and started heading south.

Overall it was a fun ride, got to see some cool things on the trail and I enjoyed all the towns along the way. Apart from the wind the weather was perfect, I was expecting it to feel a little colder than it actually was...I rode the majority of the ride in shorts and a t shirt, only putting a long sleeve shirt on at around 4 in the morning. I think if someone had a nice gravel bike and a crew waiting for them at towns with food instead of using gas stations or restaurants they could finish the whole route in 24 hours or less.

 
HS from Home on 10/03/2020 02:49 AM
T

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 10/29/2020 01:16 PM
Tristan - great job. I read your TR in my email and haven't been over here on the site to give you congratulations. Super job and surprised to see that you were doing this un-assisted... that's pretty remarkable. Make sure you register the ride for FKT. I'll give you an official ranking of it... as unofficial as it would be! Fine job.


Parking in Albany
 - 
Msdoo from Old forge NY on 10/07/2020 12:33 PM
The last eastern segment that we have to ride is Rotterdam to Albany. We will use two cars. What is the address of the end of the trail and where can we leave a car for approx 3 hours Can’t find any published info. On the trails end/ start place

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 10/11/2020 03:39 PM
I believe the end of the trail is Jennings Landing right on the Hudson. Not sure of a parking lot but you’ll be downtown so parking lots are down there for sure.



Parking in Albany
 - 
Msdoo from Old forge NY on 10/07/2020 12:17 PM
The last eastern segment that we have to ride is Rotterdam to Albany. We will use two cars. What is the address of the end of the trail and where can we leave a car for approx 3 hours Can’t find any published info. On the trails end/ start place


Corning City Preserve in Albany
 - 
Anonymous from Novi, Michigan on 10/02/2020 11:36 AM
Is it safe or even possible to leave a vehicle in the Corning City Preserve in Albany?

 
Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs NY on 10/02/2020 11:57 AM
Dear friend,

Are you planning to leave your car for a long time? I would have concern in that case. Shorter periods are better. I would advise you to use the parking at the train station in Rensselaer. You need to pay but, the parking lot is under surveillance.

Enjoy your trip! Joseph

 
Yankee John from Vermont and Rexford NY on 10/02/2020 02:56 PM
Agree with Joseph, parking in Albany is focused on state employees and not out of town visitors leaving their cars overnight. The long term parking at the train station is only $7/night(follow the Megabus pickup sign) and there is a 24 hour attendant.

Crossing over the Hudson River on the Dunn Memorial bridge is not for the faint of heart, but there is a dedicated bike/pedestrian path that is mostly in good condition.

For Joseph Pafundi:

Bonjour Joseph, c'est le père de Ryan. J'espère que Mathieu et le reste de votre famille vont bien, nous allons bien. Le vélo nous aidera à rester jeunes!

 
Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs NY on 10/03/2020 04:21 AM
Bonjour a vous tous!

Je vous souhaite bonne sante et de bons voyages sur les pistes et routes de notre belle region!

Jospeh


road bike on gravel
 - 
David Stihler from Santa Cruz, CA on 10/02/2020 12:28 PM
We are planning on arriving in Fort Erie and would like to ride the trail to Albany. BUT we have road bikes with 25mm tires. I read that the trail is mostly gravel or crushed limestone. Does anyone know or had any experience riding the entire trail on a road bike rather than gravel bike or mountain bike.

 
Yankee John from Rexford NY and Vermont on 10/02/2020 03:21 PM
There are several strings on this forum regarding the question of road bikes and tires. In general it seems there is agreement that a road bike with road tires is fine. One rider commented that they rode the entire trail with slicks without a problem. Much of the trail is paved but in the western end there are long sections of packed stone dust that can get a little squirrely when it's wet after a rain. There are a few short sections of two track packed dirt and grass, but those are currently being paved or converted to stone dust.

I've ridden the entire trail, some of the sections several times, on a steel frame road bike with city/trekking style 700x32 Kenda tires. My riding companions have ridden road bikes or hybrid bikes with similar tires. If you have the inclination to change your tires and have skinny slicks, consider changing to a fatter hybrid/trekking style tire.


Corning City Preserve in Albany
 - 
Anonymous from Novi, Michigan on 10/02/2020 11:36 AM
Is it safe or even possible to leave a vehicle in the Corning City Preserve in Albany?


Albany to Buffalo - are winds an obstacle?
 - 
bikegal from Kane, PA on 09/15/2020 09:29 PM
Hello! I was planning to bike from Albany to Buffalo because that works better with my travel plans, but I've read about westerly winds being worse this way. Is that the case? Does it make much of a difference? I'm planning to ride the first week in October. I could rearrange my trip if that is advisable, so I'm curious!

 
Chris from Macedon NY on 10/01/2020 11:15 AM
Hi,
I was also planning to bike the same week starting monday 10/5. The winds usually do go west to east so if you start at albany if there are any winds they would be in your face as opposed to your back when biking buffalo to albany. I would start in buffalo if its possible.


Bike on Train from Albany to Buffalo
 - 
Charlotte Mike from Charlotte, NC on 08/31/2020 12:48 PM
So I am trying to plan a ride on the Erie Canal in 2021. Thought I would drive to Buffalo, ride to Albany, then train back to collect car.

Is this possible - there seem to be conflicting answers on taking a bike on the Empire Service train. Can you do it if you leave from Schenectady rather than Albany?

Thanks for any clarity or suggestions.

Mike

 
wnybubba from Bflo - Roc on 09/01/2020 03:59 PM
Mike, it seems there is some confusion about trains these days. Previously, train service with roll-on ability was offered on one train a day with that train arriving into Buffalo/Depew somewhere around 1:00 AM. At this point, you're probably fine planning a ride/train tour and see what the status is as time comes closer. I'm hoping that there is enough pressure on Amtrak to cause them to offer better roll-on service.

 
Yankee John from Braintree, VT on 09/06/2020 06:46 PM
There is currently no bike service on the Empire Service trains, but there is bike service on the Lake Shore Limited that runs once/day to Chicago. I just rode the Lake Shore Limited #48/49 from Schenectady to Rochester with my bike. The train was on time, an Amtrak staff person put loaded my bike on the baggage car without difficulty and returned it to me in Rochester undamaged. The only hard part is that the short distance Coach seats are at the front of the train, and the baggage car is at the back, so it's a long walk with your panniers after you drop off your bike. You need to have a reservation for the bike because the baggage car holds only hold 6 bikes. It costs $20 for the bike. The train arrived in Rochester at 2315, and it was an easy ride to the downtown hotels on well lit streets.

The Lake Shore Limited does not stop at the Exchange station in downtown Buffalo, only at the Depew station, and it arrives after midnight. The hotels hear Depew are all dull big box airport hotels. The Lakeshore used to skip Rome, and was 30 minutes faster, but apparently the tracks on the direct route the omits Rome are bad so all of the trains go through Rome even if they don't stop there. There are rumors that the tracks repairs will be completed by next year so the trip will be shorter and the train will arrive earlier. It's not expensive to reserve a taxi van in advance that can transport you to a hotel from Depew, but it will only hold 2 bikes. I would recommend staying at the Hotel Henry on the North end of Buffalo. The bike trails connect to the hotel via the adjacent Buffalo State Campus, and there is ample parking near the hotel to leave your car for free. There is not a continuous trail along the water from downtown Buffalo to the trails leaving Buffalo north to the Erie Canal, so if you stay in a downtown hotel you will have to ride on city streets at the start of your trip. Buffalo has some great architecture, so the ride is actually quite pleasant if it's not rush hour.

 
Yankee John from Braintree, VT on 09/06/2020 06:46 PM
There is currently no bike service on the Empire Service trains, but there is bike service on the Lake Shore Limited that runs once/day to Chicago. I just rode the Lake Shore Limited #48/49 from Schenectady to Rochester with my bike. The train was on time, an Amtrak staff person put loaded my bike on the baggage car without difficulty and returned it to me in Rochester undamaged. The only hard part is that the short distance Coach seats are at the front of the train, and the baggage car is at the back, so it's a long walk with your panniers after you drop off your bike. You need to have a reservation for the bike because the baggage car holds only hold 6 bikes. It costs $20 for the bike. The train arrived in Rochester at 2315, and it was an easy ride to the downtown hotels on well lit streets.

The Lake Shore Limited does not stop at the Exchange station in downtown Buffalo, only at the Depew station, and it arrives after midnight. The hotels hear Depew are all dull big box airport hotels. The Lakeshore used to skip Rome, and was 30 minutes faster, but apparently the tracks on the direct route the omits Rome are bad so all of the trains go through Rome even if they don't stop there. There are rumors that the tracks repairs will be completed by next year so the trip will be shorter and the train will arrive earlier. It's not expensive to reserve a taxi van in advance that can transport you to a hotel from Depew, but it will only hold 2 bikes. I would recommend staying at the Hotel Henry on the North end of Buffalo. The bike trails connect to the hotel via the adjacent Buffalo State Campus, and there is ample parking near the hotel to leave your car for free. There is not a continuous trail along the water from downtown Buffalo to the trails leaving Buffalo north to the Erie Canal, so if you stay in a downtown hotel you will have to ride on city streets at the start of your trip. Buffalo has some great architecture, so the ride is actually quite pleasant if it's not rush hour.

 
Mark from Vernon on 09/10/2020 08:39 PM
Mike, my wife and I put our bikes on the Empire train yesterday 9/9/2020
In Albany and trained to Buffalo. We will ride back to Albany where our car is parked.
According to Amtrak they just made this change a couple days ago and now allow two bikes per train.

Mark

 
Charlotte Mike from Charlotte, NC on 09/24/2020 10:38 AM
Many thanks for the info.

 
kmart from Manchester NH on 09/24/2020 05:51 PM
I just completed the Erie canal trail from Buffalo to Albany. We drove to the Albany Airport and rented a van and drove to Buffalo and dropped the rental off at the Buffalo Airport. The cost was about $170.00. I split the cost with my co-rider. We parked the car in Albany at the train station parking lot for $30.00 for the week.


Cohoes you’re schenectady
 - 
BC from Cornwall ny on 09/20/2020 06:34 PM
Cohoes to Schenectady on the Erie Canal rail trail. Does anyone have comments about this part of the trail? I’m going to ride it this week.

 
Yankee John from Vermont and Rexford,NY on 09/20/2020 10:09 PM
It is a nice ride, make sure you check out the observation deck at the Cohoes Falls, the trail does not go past the falls. There is a significant problem when you are almost to Schenectady. After you pass Anthony drive the trail is closed for installation of a large sewer or water pipe. Turn right on Anthony drive and then left at the sewer plant on Technology drive. When I rode it 2 weeks ago I went past Anthony drive a little farther and then walked through the grass strip to the parking lots adjoining Technology drive which continues to Maxon Road.

The continuation of the trail is also closed from Maxon road into Schenectady. If you turn right on Maxon Road you will cross the tracks and come to an underpass of Freeman's bridge that connects to new trail from the new Casino to the Stockade district. Then you can make your way into Schenectady from the Stockade. Freeman's Bridge is also under construction and there is construction equipment everywhere, so the underpass is unmarked and might be difficult to pick out. It was open two weeks ago and I rode through without having to walk my bike.


Beware the signage approaching Syracuse from the west
 - 
Yankee John from Vermont on 09/15/2020 12:12 PM
The trail signage in West Syracuse is inaccurate since it has been put up prior to completion of a bike/pedestrian bridge over the train tracks that connects the trail to downtown Syracuse. Following the signs will add 3.5 miles each way riding on a section of new trail without an outlet.

Approaching Syracuse from the west riding east the marked trail ends at Warners Road/Reed Webster Park. A new, paved, clearly visible trail winds east up and over the landfill/tailing piles and ends at Bridge Street/297. The Erie Canal Trailway signs at this point bring you left (North) over the new 297 bridge path down to the NY State Fairgrounds. The trail signs then lead left over a long bike/pedestrian bridge to a new paved trail with a beautiful lake overlook and then continues along the lake towards downtown Syracuse. Unfortunately the trail ends abruptly almost to town and there is no passage for bikes or pedestrians further east to the city. A new bridge is under construction over the train tracks and creek to connect to downtown, but this appears to be many months from completion.

The bicycle entrance to downtown Syracuse from the west is on Milton Avenue, which is a right hand turn on Bridge street where the landfill trail ends, and then a left on Milton Avenue.

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