ctbiker from Norwich,CT on 10/24/2018 9:26:30 AM:
I see Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Canal#Route) mentions various starting points but I personally don't have an answer. I cycled the western half a couple years ago and finished the eastern half yesterday (10/23).
As you mentioned, it's getting nippy throughout the day now.
My two friends and I were often confused by a lack of signage and disliked the broken route which dumps one out onto heavy, fast-traffic roads. We found riding the canal trail next to I-90 disquieting.
I especially liked the General Nicolas Herkimer estate area.