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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Erie Canal Bike Trail.
 
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Which way to ride?
 - 
Danno from St Petersburg Fl on 05/08/2020 09:49 PM
Looking at riding the canal but not sure if direction matters? Did the C&O and it’s a Downingtown grade from Cumberland to DC so you definitely want to ride west to east. How about the Erie Canal?

 
cr on 05/08/2020 10:22 PM
Buffalo to Albany is the general "downhill", but its really mostly just flat.

 
Bop from Rochester on 05/09/2020 10:38 AM
West wind is generally the issue.

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 05/09/2020 09:31 PM
I agree with the responses here. You are technically going downhill Buffalo to Albany but even at the locks where you have these small changes in elevation, it’s not much to get excited about. I think there’s is a nice drop at Lockport. But going this way, you won’t be going up those locks. The wind typically, though not guaranteed, goes west to east. But 99% of the time the trail is just flat as a pancake.

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Amtrak Station in Albany
 - 
Rick from Grafton, Va on 04/18/2020 03:28 PM
I know these comments/questions were posted in 2019 but I talked to an Amtrak agent today 4/18/20 and was told no bike/checked service. I told the agent we were planning to remove pedals, loosen handlebars, and box. The answer was NO! I tried doing a tentative ticket reservation and when you get past the date of travel and ticket cost the next screen is extras. At the top of the page it says "here is where you add on extras like pets, golf clubs, bikes, etc. There is a fee for checked pets up to a certain size but no bikes.

This is stupid beyond belief. Amtrak needs to expand their services to include bikes on EVERY TRAIN that goes near bike destinations. They finally started the Washington DC to Pittsburg Pa roll on service a few years ago and I've used it 3-4 times.

We'd wanted to park in Albany and actually train to Niagara Falls and bike back. Now we're back to square one looking for a shuttle service that will only shuttle us. We don't need a guide nor an itinerary.

 
Rick Hancock from Grafton on 04/18/2020 09:03 PM
i stand corrected. Apparently there is a train that departs in the evening and arrives in Buffalo at appx. Midnight at the Depew station which is appx. 9-10miles from the trailhead. Darn shame as that means a overnight stay in a motel.

 
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 04/18/2020 10:43 PM
Rick - pretty discouraging news, but the late night train (typical for Bflo because it's between NYC and Chicago) is certainly an option for you to consider. Depew is a built-up suburban area and there are *tons* of motel options close by. I checked Warmshowers.com (are you a member?) and there are Buffalo options in this reagrd as well. There is also a Hostel in Buffalo (Buffalo Niagara Hostel, www.hostelbuffalo.com). Just not sure why a night is an issue - time or money, but options are available. Although I know nothing about this - is taking a bus an alternative option to the train? It's really discouraging about the train attitude toward bikes -- last year in Toronto I jumped on a train into town with my bike -- no problem just not allowed on Handicapped cars and limit to two per. Maybe I need to do some advocacy with some agencies in NYS.

 
Rick from Grafton, Va on 04/19/2020 10:27 AM
Time is the main factor but money for a few hours sleep is also a factor unless lodging is relatively cheap. I'd hate to knock on someones door after 12am and haven't used warmshowers. Plus I generally like to get into town, load my gear, and start riding. The time factor is that before starting the Erie Canal ride we want to bike out and back to Niagara Falls then make enough miles out of Buffalo to get to a campsite. I am a Hosteling USA member so that's an option. Do you know offhand if the train service is boxed only or roll on? Otherwise I'll need a PO in the morning so I can send my heavy pedal wrench back home. I think I saw a PO not to far from the trailhead. Thanks for your help as this is my 1st ride on this route.

 
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 04/19/2020 01:03 PM
Rick - I'll see if I can get additional info on some of this and get back to you. Good you have till Sept. I might see if there are personal connections to help you out on arrival. Again... you need not come back to Bflo from Niagara Falls to get near Lockport from a mileage standpoint, but if you are intent on riding the canalway in its entirety, then yeah, skirt off to NF and back down to it and head eastwardly. (Obviously NF to Lockport area is roadways.) Touch base with me, my email is my sign-in name here @gmail. (Allegheny Passage is on a maybe bucket list).

 
Rick from Grafton, Va on 04/20/2020 12:23 AM
Thanks,
My email is athiker80@cox.net. Yes, I'm a thru hiker of the Appalachian Trail. If and when you plan your Passage ride I can give you some info.

 
Steve from New Jersey on 04/20/2020 01:18 PM
Rick,

It isn't the best option, but when I took the train from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh it came in at almost 1 am. I stayed in the train station until first light. I was offered a chance to sleep in a corner by the station employee as there was no one else there at that time, but I declined. I was very tired the next day but, boy, did I sleep well that night. LOL.

 
Rick Hancock from Grafton on 04/20/2020 06:33 PM
Steve,
Yeah that 1 train a day with a midnight arrival is a bummer. I've taken the train from DC and Cumberland to Pittsburg. DC station has roll on service and train staff were very helpful. Cumberland you need to lift your bike up to the storage car. Also the attendant wasn't very friendly. I also ride a fat bike and I'm waiting for amtrak to accommodate bigger tires. Amtrak might not be making a ton of money off bike travel but it's certainly cheaper than most shuttle services. Plus I really enjoy train travel.

 
Steve from New Jersey on 04/23/2020 12:12 PM
Yes. I didn't mind carrying my bike up into the car myself, but when I brought it in there were no more hanging brackets. The guy told me to just leave my bike on its kickstand for the trip. I knew that wouldn't work so I had to tie my bike to the wall with a strap that was there. It worked and bike made it in one piece. I took the late train at the start of my trip because I wanted to take my time going back to Cumberland, without a reservation guiding when I had to be somewhere. I think when I retire I'll do the whole thing from DC to Pittsburgh.

 
Rick from Grafton, Va on 04/24/2020 02:15 PM
Steve, I actually prefer to ratchet my bike to the wall instead of hanging it on the racks. Amtrak has a money maker but their fairly stubborn. They also don't make it easy to understand roll-on/carry=on, etc. I think the easy way to understand is if your bike reservation is $20 then you roll or carry on. If $10 then you box. Passage/C&O is a great ride. I've done it numerous times and always seem to see something new. We usually do indoor says along the Passage then tent from Cumberland to DC with 1 last indoor at Harpersferry to shower after 3 nights in the tent. Something to consider. If you go to the C&O Greatfalls site you can get a multi day parking pass for free. You ride the last 14 miles of trail east to National Mall. From there bike to Union Station (1 train a day which leaves around 2-2:30pm with 12am arrival in Pittsburg) Might be later than 12am. At the end of your ride you arrive back at Great Falls to a safe vehicle and free parking. You do need to arrive before the rangers arrive or you'll pay a small fee.

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Good idea?
 - 
CJ from Syracuse on 04/23/2020 01:38 PM
Hello all. My amazing girlfriend and myself are looking forward to hitting the trail in mid May. Our hope is to do the entire trail from buff to Albany, but we are uncertain if it is a good idea during these uncertain times. We plan on camping most of the nights and being pretty self sufficient, but we know there will be some basic needs as we travel through towns. Has anyone been out there in the past few weeks? Are there any bans on parts of the trail at the moment? Is it best to wait? Any input will be very much appreciated!

Side not, we are first timers and new to touring! Thanks in advance for your feedback.

 
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 04/23/2020 03:04 PM
Oh man... Get ready for some unwelcome comments! Is it safe - NO. Is it smart = NO. Should you consider it - why not?

Here's my take on the thouught. If you even consider it - I hope you are an experienced camper. You will have to be very self sufficient and somewhat creative as I don't think anyone knows what to expect. Governor's Executive Order is Stay in Place until May 15th including campgrounds being closed. After that... who knows?

The path is open to walk, bike, etc. Towns and villages along the Trail are in quarantine mode with limited resources available. Grocery and convenient stores would be your ultimate source for supply replenishment with possible "walk-up" service at some takeout providers, so are you prepared for these limitations and consideration for substanance? then consider this... many/most public restrooms will be closed. How are you (both) going to handle this necessity?I

Let's also add how you are going to handle yourselves in a safe-distancing environment. This is NOT about to go away soon. Hand washing, masks, sanitizers... all need to be considered.I

I'm also trying to imagine your fitness and timing. Being new to touring may take its toll. Are you planning on a 4 day pound or a 10 day tour? It all adds to your risk and exposure. Are you ready to consider having to be hospitalized miles from home? Do you have any means of support should you need it?I

My take... not a good move, but it's an adventure after all. Consider the risks, your fitness and your experience. And, most of all... don't be selfish. Not to yourself, your amazing girlfriend or others.

 
CJ from Syracuse on 04/23/2020 04:50 PM
WNYBubba, thank you very much for your thoughtful response. We are genuinely taking this feedback seriously. We do not want to put anyone else at risk, most importantly, and trying to tailor our departure date further out. Although we are confident in our experienced camping skills and fitness levels, it does seem a bit selfish to venture out during this time. Thank you for the clarity. It's hard to come back down to reality after both of us have been staring at screens, finalizing graduate school and remaining inside most of the days. I'm sure this is something most of us are experiencing. Anyway, thanks again. Stay safe!

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Canajoharie
 - 
biker on 03/31/2020 05:26 PM
Is the Erie Canal Bike Trail paved? Is it appropriate for road bikes?

 
wnybubba on 04/01/2020 11:55 AM
Its mixed - paved and hard packed crush stone with some off trail sections on paved secondary roads. Here's a nice look:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODe2OvBQtMo

 
John from Cobleskill on 04/04/2020 06:10 PM
Yes if you use tires that are made with kevlar.

 
John from Pittsburgh on 04/06/2020 06:32 PM
Buffalo to the Tonawanda’s is paved. Schenectady to Albany is paved. The off trail parts are on local roads. Everything else is crushed gravel.

 
wnybubba on 04/06/2020 07:15 PM
@John from Pittsburgh
I'm not all that familiar with the trail east of Pittsford (outside of Rochester) but the trail is paved around Rochester for sure.

 
John from Pittsburgh on 04/06/2020 10:00 PM
You are correct. I recall some paved trail in Rochester but it’s beginning and end points escape me.
Does anyone know?

 
Bop from Rochester on 04/07/2020 05:17 AM
Greece (Long Pond Rd.)to Pittsford, paved. Many tree roots bumps.

 
John from Cobleskill on 04/10/2020 05:59 AM
The PTNY site is pretty close to what is paved and what is stone dust but it's not 100% because I know of a section around Schoharie Crossing that is stone dust but on their map, they show it as paved. But other than that, it is correct as far as I know.

https://www.ptny.org/bike-canal/map/

 
Steve M. from Evergreen, CO on 04/21/2020 02:21 PM
We are planning to hopefully ride the route in late June. I would comments on whether a road or Mt. bike is more appropriate. Thanks!

 
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 04/21/2020 04:02 PM
I think what feedback you will receive is that either work, just personal preference. The trail has minimal elevation gain/loss so gearing isn't a significant concern in that regard. What will make a difference is the tires you choose. I just ordered a decent "rolling" mtb bike tire for my planned tour.

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Tagged: Canajoharie

Lock 15 State Campsite in Fort Plain
 - 
Kelly from Schenectady on 03/21/2020 12:33 PM
Looking to leave shortly on a bike ride to Is lock 15 usually full or is there usually room

 
Bop from Rochester on 03/22/2020 03:31 PM
The Canal hasn't been filled with water yet. The Locks aren't in operation.

 
Rick Hancock from Grafton on 04/18/2020 09:10 PM
I think he means is the camping area usually full. At least that's how I'm interpreting it.

 
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 04/19/2020 10:50 PM
Well... at this time any State campground is closed due to the NYS PAUSE Executive Order.

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How well is the trail marked?
 - 
John from Cobleskill on 04/04/2020 06:32 PM
I'm concerned about how well the trail is marked from end to end. I have ridden parts of it (the eastern end) and some of it is really lacking on markings. In Rome, the signage is very poor and I ended up on a road that had way too much traffic because I missed the turn. I went back in a car and still couldn't find the marking of the trail. I felt very unsafe on the section I did take. I've driven through the Syracuse section of the ECTrail and haven't been impressed with the signs. Losing your way seems all too easy.

I've thought about a digital map that I could follow on my IPhone but I haven't found a good working solution. I've tried Google Maps and Maps.Me app.

I'm really concerned I will find myself off the trail with no clue as to how to get back to the trail. Am I worrying too much? Or can someone out there help me?

 
John from Pittsburgh on 04/06/2020 06:24 PM
I agree that parts of the trail are poorly marked and need improvements. I think I read about 20% of the trail is on local roads.

I would check out the PTNY’s Cycle the Erie Canal Page, they have an interactive map with the trail marked. I always carry my charged phone (google maps and Maps.me as you’ve mentioned) plus it could’t hurt to print out some paper maps of the trickier sections where the trail is not so obvious.

If you get lost you can always go back a bit. The trail goes through towns and past other cyclists. Someone should be able to assist you I always figure. I’ve only met the friendliest people when I get lost and people are always eager to assist.

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Questions about a solo ride Buffalo-Albany
 - 
Tony from Michigan on 03/03/2020 11:58 AM
Hi all. I'm planning to ride the canal solo some time in the summer or maybe fall of 2020, and have a list of questions. My tentative plan is to have my wife drop me in Buffalo, and meet me in Albany when I get there. So - questions:

- What's a typical daily mileage? I've done road tours before, like the Dalmac, where we averaged about 60 miles a day. The longest was 85 in flat country, and maybe 40 in hilly areas. That was on the road bike, though. I've also done 2 centuries on that bike. Because most of the canal trail is off pavement, I'm planning to ride my mountain bike. I'm hoping to do maybe 50 miles a day, which would let me complete the ride in about 7 days. I'm not the fastest rider on the route, and don't need to be, but I'm comfortable with the "just keep peddling" approach. I also plan to do a little sightseeing and geocaching along the way, so I figure I'll have 6-9 hours a day riding or at least traveling.

- I plan to travel light, and find a place to stay each night. I'm thinking either motel/hotels, or AirBNBs. Has someone else done this, and how did it work? I haven't stayed at AirBNBs before, but I've done VRBOs, which is similar. Are the hosts OK with staying a single night, on short notice? I expect I'd probably try to find a place to stay based on where I'm at around noon or early afternoon, how much distance I've covered so far that day, what the weather looks like, where the upcoming towns are, etc.

- How hilly is the canal trail? It follows the water, so I expect most of the trail will be fairly flat in those sections. Are there many hills at locks, or where the trail goes thru town?

- Does anyone have any sources to find out about typical weather in upstate NY? I'm retired, so I'm OK with checking the long range forecast and deciding to go at the last minute. But it would be nice to know a bit about what's typical or likely.

- What other questions should I ask? What things am I not thinking of? I've done about 10 multi-day rides before, but they were all organized by a group that puts these on regularly, and I just had to show up with a bike. This is my first solo ride.

 
Bop from Rochester on 03/03/2020 01:20 PM
The canal tour is fifty miles a day with children riding along. I generally ride 22 miles in a hour and a half.

 
John from Pittsburgh on 03/03/2020 11:47 PM
Erie Canal is an excellent choice for a solo tour. I did the organized Cycle the Erie Canal trip put on by PTNY but have read about many solo tours and such on various bike tour forums. Cross country cyclists on the Northern Tier use this route also. I’d check PTNY’s site for the event as they have a cool interactive map with the route.

Prepare for 50-60 miles a day and flat crushed stone dust trail. Buffalo to Albany direction the locks will go downhill but they’re not that big to be honest. A few sections have been lost forever to time so you’ll detour onto roads but they were lightly travelled and not hilly at all. Ample towns to eat/camp/hotel in, all spaced nicely apart.

Weather in upstate NY is typical NE weather in summer. Hot days and cooler nights but expect humidity. Prep for a day or two of rain, you just never know.

AirBnB hosts should be fine with one night as I’m sure they’re in tune with what touring cyclists need, likely being a major portion of their business but contact them to be sure.

 
wnybubba from Allegany Co on 03/04/2020 03:31 PM
Good info above for you, however the PTNY event is a group event with full support, so overnight info will not offered. AirB&B and VRBO are nearly the same with the thought that, in general, an AirB&B situation will anticipate a shorter stay than VRBO. Often cleaning costs are added so make sure you understand any additional charges that may apply. Don't forget to check out Hostel type offerings as they are good for one-night stays and no-frill. Expect weather much like Michigan weather -- unless you are from the UP. I'm planning a solo ride this coming spring/summer (also retired) and have found this site to be a wealth of information. My plan is to travel light but have a lite tent and sleeping bag. I've been eyeing places along the trail and it seems there should be little problem setting up a tent and nodding off for the night and dine local when I can. Let me know if I can help you out in any way. -bubba

 
Bop from Rochester on 03/04/2020 09:55 PM
Also look into warmshowers.com and CouchSurfing for over night stays.

 
wnybubba on 03/04/2020 10:13 PM
@Bop -- I was thinking about adding Couchsurfing as well. I hadn't heard of Warmshowers though. Very cool - thanks for the post.

 
Tony from Michigan on 03/06/2020 08:31 AM
Thank you all for the replies and info. I have seen the interactive map, but had not considered the hostel option. I'll look into that.

 
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 03/24/2020 01:16 PM
I meant to add that on the PTNY interactive map, you do not have to follow the route south down to Waterloo/Seneca Falls. It’s an overnight stop on the organized trip they run each July.

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hammocking
 - 
Ruthie in Delaware from Smyrna on 03/14/2020 07:10 PM
Are there plenty of hammocking options along the trail? I don't need specially set up 6x6's like they have at Confluence Campground along the GAP trail. Just anyplace with trees or posts 12-15 ft apart.

 
Bop from Rochester on 03/15/2020 08:17 AM
This may help.

http://www.canals.ny.gov/trails/camping.html

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biking the erie canal
 - 
homer from CANANDAIGUA on 09/12/2019 05:43 PM
I want to bike the erie canal from Buffalo to Albany. should i ride alone or try to find a companion?

 
JB from Hull, MA on 09/27/2019 09:38 AM
I just finished alone from Albany to Buffalo in 4 days. On the whole, I think I would have preferred company to break up the monotony, share the load of a tent, etc. Still doable and has some nice perks going solo though.

 
Hiker-Biker from Cottonwood, AZ on 01/31/2020 08:17 PM
I SOLO biked the Katy Trail, The G.A.P and the C&O Canal. I always met really nice people along the way. I'm doing the Erie Canal this May.
Solo means you don't wait for other people, you set your own pace, change your plans as needed. I usally fly into the starrting town, buy a cheap Walmart bike, add my bags and go.

 
wnybubba from Allegany Co on 03/02/2020 03:07 PM
I'm planning a Spring ride Bflo -> Syr (at least) planning solo but would be willing to chat up the ideal of traveling together. I'm thinking that I'd go rather lite. In the early planning stages and would consider through to ALB. Appears we live relatively close - I can be in Naples in an hour.

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Roads on Erie Canal Trail
 - 
Mark Brown from ENGLEWOOD, Ohio on 01/20/2020 03:23 PM
A group of us typically ride for a week during the summer (GAP, C & O, Katy) we typically go 30-60 miles a day. Interested in starting from Buffalo or Syracuse the concern is how m,any and how long are the "road sections"? We typically like to ride on bike trails and avoid shared roads.

 
bobthe builder from Cleveland on 01/20/2020 08:02 PM
I feel the same way and the Canalway has a lot of road sections. BUT I was impressed by how wide and safe the NY bike lanes were

 
wnybubba on 03/02/2020 03:00 PM
Mark, with the Gov's goal of completing the trail in 2020, you should see less and less road sections. That said, most of the road sections are more like gaps than long distances. Additionally, many of those sections would be in more rural areas so road sharing is in less congested traffic areas.

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shuttle service
 - 
Mary from Anacortes on 02/27/2020 02:25 PM
Would like to know about shuttle service that can accommodate a tandem from Albany to probably Rochester. Thanks

 
wnybubba from Allegany Co on 03/02/2020 02:53 PM
Not sure what you're looking for here, but I've got a hiking trip coming up in VT that I could arrange to pick up your bike get your bike to ROC

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Residence Inn Rochester in Rochester
 - 
Psychlist on 03/01/2020 03:05 PM
Nice hotel - large comfortable room with kitchen, indoor pool (no hot tub though), good breakfast, super clean, restaurants around.

About 1.75 mile ride from Lock 33: Edgewood Road to Jefferson, then west.

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