wnybubba from Bflo-Roc on 7/21/2020 1:10:02 AM:
Hi. In June I did just what you are setting out to do, and add to that, I just completed the GAP two days ago.
Relative to your questions... The Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) is a lot different than the GAP. You are very much more in communities as opposed to the very rural GAP (after PGH anyhow). There are no designated campgrounds. The Canalway Corporation does list some Locks as hiker/biker/paddler friendly, however, having had conversations with them... none really officially exist. Some Locks are better for camping than others, but really most could easily host an overnight camp.
I stayed one evening on a large lawn just off the trail with "approval/agreeable thought" from a neighbor, another on an owners lawn next to the trail (with permission) and at Locks on others days -- at that time the Canal had not opened so things were rather unmanned.
It's hard to give you actual help b/c I don't know how many daily miles you are planning. Post some thoughts on your itinerary and I'll try to help.
Now, about other through riders... again, not the same. There are riders out doing the trail, but certainly not in the numbers as you see in the GAP (at least not on my experience). And, because there are no common campgrounds, there are not gatherings of riders. I totally understand where you are coming from, but do not plan on the same experience.
Admittedly, I had somewhat of a renegade, male attitude about camping. I felt if I found a space that could work -- I'd go for it. As it turned out I pretty much had permission (before or after) and most times had a picnic table next to or close-by.
Suggestion I saw and used was that I made a sign stating "Thru Hiking ECT" added my name, hometown AND Cell phone number so if someone had issue they could call me and ask me rather than shake my tent, etc.
I'd be glad to email or phone chat with you. You can send an email to my gmail account -- email@example.com