News About Rotterdam Junction Improvements -
Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs, NY on 04/30/2020 12:24 PM
Good day to all!
Several months ago, I contributed to a discussion about "on-road" sections of the Erie Canal Bike Trail. I gave my ideas at that time about my experiences from Albany to Medina, NY. Two days ago, 04/28/2020, I went from Lock 8 to Lock 10 in Cranesville. In Rotterdam Junction NY important progress is being made concerning the elimination of the on-road section between Rotterdam Junction and the Pattersonville trail head. This road section is very busy. The new path has been marked out (seems to follow an old rail line). The intriguing issues are the two tunnels to be made under the used rail line in Rotterdam Junction. This task seems daunting (they will get it done!) so, when will this section be complete? Only the engineers and workers know. The main point here is that this busy, risky sector will be eliminated some time this year making the ride from Buffalo to Albany safer and more enjoyable.
Safe travels to all! Be Healthy!
Jospeh Pafundi, Saratoga Springs NY
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 04/30/2020 09:52 PM
Thanks for your update. Getting the Empire State Trail complete in 2020 is the goal.
John from Cobleskill on 05/05/2020 11:10 AM
This web site has the BEST trail map for the Erie Canal. Every step of my planning, BIKEERIECANAL map has been a part of it.
That said, I wish that they would add a feature of the canal trail surface for each mile. That would be helpful.
Also a way to support this page. The resources on here is without question the best and I wouldn't mind throwing some $$ in their direction to keep this page up and running..... and current.
Just an idea.
Leanne from Berea, OH on 05/05/2020 07:28 PM
Joseph Pafundi, we are considering riding the entire trail this summer. Is it difficult to get back on the trail when the path ends? Did you have an app to help you?
Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs, NY on 05/06/2020 05:31 AM
Dear friend, Leanne, Ohio,
I would like to extend a warm welcome to NYS. In my opinion, you will find the trail to be very pretty and home to many historic villages whose existence is rooted in the history of the Erie Canal. Your question is very, very good. Difficulty leaving the trail and accessing "on-road" portions will vary. I suppose that a good GPS will help (there is this site's map + NY Parks and Trails book which are excellent!). A case in point:in coming from Rotterdam Junction and entering Schenectady, NY at the SCC campus, one is confronted with navigating some confusing streets. The area is very quaint (Stockade district) but, the signage is poor in my view. A rider needs to get to North Jay Street/Union College before picking up the trail. I have seen others con Facebook complain about this transition. It is what it is!
Hope you will enjoy your ride and our very pretty state!
Randy from Albany on 05/21/2020 08:08 AM
The Rotterdam Junction train track interruption (eastern track crossing) was caused by installation of the tracks across the trail to serve the chemical company across Rt 5S without installing a tunnel at that time. This occurred about a decade ago. At that time I wondered why they did not install the tunnel before piling all the rail bed material on the trail. Now it is going to cost much more to "drill" a tunnel through that mass. I have climbed over that track right after installation, and it was not pleasant at all. I look forward to the tunnel and hopefully trail improvement through that area to encourage usage. The second train track crossing (western track crossing) occurs right at Rt 5S where you need to get onto that road to bridge to Pattersonville trailhead. That short section (few miles) is very bumpy and could also use improvement and repaving. Meanwhile it looks like the plan is to cross the 2nd track near the Alt Erie Canal on the same line as the trail between the two track crossings. I think this "wrong" is finally being "righted." Good to see.
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/21/2020 12:20 PM
@Randy from Albany -- So is the bike-around clearly marked or are we on our own to navigate through this situation?
Joseph Pafundi from Saratoga Springs NY on 05/21/2020 08:42 PM
I rode out there yesterday. Work to the trail is moving forward. Still no drilling done yet under the railway. So, you need to get off the trail at Mabee Lane and go to Rotterdam Jct via 5s. You pick up the trial at Iroquois Street. Stay on the existent section (still bumpy) and exit back onto 5s to Pattersonville trail head on 5s. Bottom line: status quo for now but, not hard to navigate.
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/22/2020 05:41 AM
Well, that's up to the minute information. Thanks - I'll follow your instructions and try to make it safely.
File for Garmin -
Mongoeric from Burlington, Vermont on 05/05/2020 08:10 PM
Planning on doing the entire trail from Buffalo to Albany as soon as the area reopens.
I have lots of questions but one key on is where can I download a file to us on my Garmin. Another website says the *.fit file is best, but for other rides I've used the *.gps.
Any help greatly appreciated.
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/21/2020 12:57 PM
Eric - I don't know the answer, but due to lack of responses here, why don't you try touching base with Parks & Trails NY and see what advise you can get. Please post what you find out!
John from Pittsburgh, PA on 05/21/2020 05:29 PM
Ride with GPS or Strava should have these.
From Ride with GPS:
Export File Formats
Every Ride and Route on Ride with GPS can be downloaded to your computer as a TCX Course, TCX History, FIT Course, GPX Track, CSV, or KML.
I do not know if these will load on your Garmin but I’m guessing yes.
Need to register. Once in, just search for Buffalo to Albany or Erie Canal. There’s quite a few to pick from.
canal logistics -
Mark S. from Redford, MI on 05/19/2020 09:13 AM
I'm thinking of riding from Lockport, NY to Albany. Perhaps this year. Is a road touring bike adequate for the duration?
cr from Buffalo on 05/19/2020 09:35 AM
You *could* do it on a road bike, with thin tires. I would not recommend it for most stretches.
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/19/2020 11:30 AM
I'd add to the previous comment that you could for sure -- and make the recommendation that you consider the tires that you are using. A large percentage of the trail is on packed gravel so that is the major consideration. Worse case - you have to repair a tire more often than a rider with a wider, more aggressive tread. It's a trade off. I'd also add that you should consider your own riding skills -- There are city sections on the Canalway and if you are clipless are you comfortable in an urban setting? Bottom line - is it ideal? Probably not. Has it been done? Yeah, probably many, many times.
John from Cobleskill on 05/20/2020 02:45 AM
I am using a road bike on my upcoming Erie Canal trip but I am upgrading to a kevlar type of tire (Continental Gator Hardshell) at 28mm and bringing extra tube/patch kit. Even though I have never done the trail end to end, I've talked to enough people to where I'm comfortable trying it this way
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/21/2020 01:02 PM
@John from Cobleskill
What's your plan? I'm hoping to start next month around the 6th.
[Me direct: wnybubba @ gmail]
CJ from Syracuse on 05/18/2020 11:15 PM
Does anyone suggest a safe place to leave a vehicle overnight near Rochester?
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/19/2020 11:22 AM
First place that comes to mind is the REI store. It's located right on the Canalway Trail. There is a Costco store next door that might work and across the street is Monroe Community Hospital. Any of these should be fine - especially if you ask for permission (ahead of time or when you get there).
Address: 450 E Henrietta Rd, Rochester, NY 14620
Phone: (585) 242-0787
Bobthebuilder from Cleveland Ohio on 05/19/2020 03:49 PM
We rode the entire canalway last year. Rochester was scary. Emergency crews on the canal once where some local way dead! Talked to one local who called Rochester area "Indian Country" I made the mistake of a side trip to Lake Ontario. Went thru some really spooky neighborhoods. Beware
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/19/2020 05:18 PM
@Bobthebuilder from Cleveland
I find your comments to be inaccurate and uncalled for. Rochester is a friendly town, however, it is an urban city with some areas that must be approached with caution - as is the case in any large metropolitan city. When I answered the initial question about parking, I took safety into consideration when offering suggestions. Your response is disrespectful to myself and my knowledge of the area. Case in point - REI doesn't build stores in ghettos as you would lead a reader to believe is all of Rochester. Lastly, your advise and any subsequent posting by you should be taken with the knowledge that (A) You evidently don't do research before traveling - because there is an absolutely gorgeous ride along the Genesee River Trail out to Lake Ontario, (B) You are clearly racially bias and (C) you are from Cleveland - the mistake on the lake.
CJ from Syracuse on 05/20/2020 09:31 PM
Thanks @WNYbubba! Community hospital worked well. We appreerxoatr your thoughtful comments. The ride was beautiful. Got lucky with some amazing weather.
wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 05/20/2020 10:00 PM
Oh, wow -I'm so glad you it did and that enjoyed your ride ...and didn't get mugged! Bike on.
Mimi1517 from Rotterdam on 05/11/2020 06:19 PM
My husband and I are doing the trail in "spurts" All around Schenectady?Rotterdam. This spring we started from our last end point Amsterdam and road to a town called Randall and back. That would be our next start point. Where is a good place to park, going West on the trail? Looking for some ideas. Thanks.
John from Cobleskill on 05/12/2020 08:30 AM
I always park at the west end of Canajoharie, in the trail parking lot (across the street from Roosevelt's Towing). From there I either ride east to Fonda/Fultonville (12.5 miles) or go west to St. Johnsville (8 miles) or keep going to the Montgomery county line (12 miles from canjo). It's all paved and a nice ride.
John from Cobleskill on 05/15/2020 08:21 AM
If you want to start from Randall itself, there is a very small parking lot on Old River Road West which is right on the Erie Canal Trail. Old River Road West is little more than a driveway for the DOT which is at the end of that road.
Mimi1517 from Rotterdam on 05/16/2020 05:24 AM
Thanks for letting me know about the parking! We appreciate it!
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.
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
My email is email@example.com. 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
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
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.