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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Erie Canal Bike Trail.
 
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Empire State Trail
 - 
Ray (webmaster) on 01/31/2021 05:57 PM
As you probably know, New York State recently completed the Empire State Trail, a 755 mile trail system (!) reaching from Lower Manhattan to the Canadian border, and connecting to the Erie Canalway Trail at Albany.

If you’d like to explore the Empire State Trail, check out BikeEmpireState.com.

You’ll find an interactive Google map of the Empire State Trail, similar to the Erie Canal map here – which in my (not so humble) opinion is way more helpful than the Empire State map offered by the State.

There’s also a Mileage Chart Page showing distances between towns on all parts of the trail.

I wanted to get these first couple tools out on the web as quickly as possible, for anyone planning a spring or summer trip, but I will continue to add more tools like the ones you find here at BikeErieCanal. Hopefully this will help encourage people to get out and enjoy this amazing new resource.

Happy trails!

 
Yankee John from Braintree Vermont on 02/01/2021 02:58 PM
Ray:

There are three different on-line resources for biking the Erie Canal Towpath that I have added to my favorites. All seem to be published by NY State agencies. It is a bit confusing. They are:

bikeeriecanal.com
bikeempirestate.com
empiretrail.ny.gov

Each one has different maps, etc. Can you clear up which website is targeted for which type of visitor?

Thank You

 
Ray (webmaster) on 02/01/2021 03:31 PM
Hi Yankee John,

1. bikeeriecanal.com - this website is built and managed by TrailHub (my company), not the state of NY. It focuses on just the Erie Canalway.

2. bikeempirestate.com - this is also a TrailHub website, not NYS. It includes some redundant info from #1, but of course expands to include the whole Empire State Trail. We are still building out this site, but have already built two key features which the state site doesn't offer: an interactive Google Map with mile indicators, and mileage distances between towns.

3. empiretrail.ny.gov - this is the state of NY's website for the Empire State trail.

It may seem redundant to have multiple websites out there for a single trail, but I encourage you to check them all out and use whichever one works best for you. And most important, enjoy New York's amazing trails!

I appreciate your input and will keep striving to make BikeErieCanal.com and BikeEmpireState.com your "go to" sites for trip planning.

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 02/01/2021 03:49 PM
Ray,

Great work here and on the other sites -- they are always my "Go-To" sites. Thanks for your continuing goodness!

I'm thinking of doing the Canalway Trail again this early summer (Bflo -> ALB) but adding the trek into NYC.

 
bikegal from Seattle, WA on 02/01/2021 08:28 PM
Is it possible to make this forum searchable? That would be a huge value add! When I was planning my trip, it was difficult to find the information I was looking for or even know if someone had already asked the question and had the discussion.

 
Ray (webmaster) on 02/01/2021 10:56 PM
Bikegal - glad you asked! If you look near the top of the Forum page, just above the "Start a New Discussion" button, you will now see a new link for "Search the Erie Canal Bike Trail Forum".

Enjoy!

 
bikegal from Seattle, WA on 02/01/2021 11:30 PM
Thanks!

 
Yankee John from Vermont on 02/02/2021 07:01 PM
Thank you for creating and maintaining this great resource. TrailHub looks interesting, will give it a try this summer.

It won't be difficult to do better than 'Rails to Trails,' I pulled my remaining hair out using their maps and aps on a Wisconsin/ferry/Michigan group ride three years ago. It seems R2T is only good at sending nice glossies and requesting donations and providing jobs for some folks in Washington, D.C.

Thinking about riding Buffalo to Alb to Canada this summer if COVID restrictions are relaxed and it's easier to find lodging. The Champlain part of the trail is mostly on roads, wish it had more trails, but most of them aren't too busy or too hilly.

 
John W. from Pittsburgh, PA on 02/06/2021 01:43 PM
Really nice work Ray. Definitely thinking about Albany to NYC as a potential trip.

John

 
Tom Ham from Saugerties NY on 02/25/2021 10:07 AM
Ray,
Great resource!

Thank you.

 
Chris from Long Island on 04/10/2021 10:11 PM
Ray, Are you planning on adding a trip planner similar to the one on this site. I am having a really had time finding camping from Albany to NYC.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated

 
Ray (webmaster) on 04/11/2021 12:14 PM
Chris - yes, the Empire State website will eventually have a trip planner, although it will be a while.

However, I am currently researching camping options along the Hudson Valley section, and will have some info posted online within a week or so. I agree, camping options seem few and far between along that section, but I'll see what I can turn up.

I will update the "Empire State Trail - Hudson Valley camping" thread as soon as I have info to share.

 
wnybubba from Bflo/ROC on 04/11/2021 03:43 PM
Thanks Ray. If you want any help, let me know. Email me if you wish.
-bubba
wnybubba@gmail.com


The end (start) of the Erie canalway in Albany
 - 
wanderingsoul from St. Mary's City, MD on 04/11/2021 01:34 PM
I plan on riding from Buffalo to Albany in early June. Just wondering if there is a marker or something significant/spectacular to tell me that I am at the official end of the trail. Also, is this point (mile 0 of the Erie canalway) the junction of the North-South Empire State Trail? FYI, I've never been to Albany and am thus unfamiliar with the area. Thank you.


BUF to ALB If you see me out there say Heidyho!
 - 
Mike K from Sheffield Village Ohio on 03/19/2021 11:24 AM
I have a good bike and I named her Sport.
Gonna take her on down along the Erie Canal
April is cold but life is short
She’s a good new Ebike and a good new pal

If you see me out there say heidyho
I’ll be the old man with the beard down low

We’ve rode some trails in our day
Filling my panniers with food today
And here’s the one thing that I do know
I’ll be parking in Buffalo to start the show

If you see me out there say heidyho
I’ll be the old man with the beard down low

When my ride is over I’ll take the Amtrak back
I’ll get to my truck and load up my pack

If you see me out there say heidyho
I’ll be the old man with the beard down low
I’ll be the old man with the beard down low

 
Bktourer1 from Da Bronx (living in Mass) on 03/19/2021 11:47 AM
3rd week in June (hopefully) look for the bike with the yellow fenders

 
Mike K from Sheffield Village Ohio on 03/20/2021 06:03 PM
I hope folks enjoyed my song. I'll be starting the ride on April 5th.
Heidyho!

 
Chris from Long Island on 04/10/2021 10:07 PM
4th week in May with my Son. So excited


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?

Thanks.

 
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
Brambor:

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! : )

John


 
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
WNYBubba,
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.


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
WNYBubba

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


Amtrak
 - 
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?
Thanks!

 
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
John,

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!

Joseph

 
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?


https://www.instantstreetview.com/@42.674587,-73.752712,102.37h,-8.06p,1z,IOx3TYOEcBjvbURTbaQyHA

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

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
wanderingsoul;

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
Ray:

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...

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