Update on Champlain Canal Trail and the Empire State Trail North from Waterford

Bad News on Champlain Canal Trail – Upper Newtown Rd. – According to 11/9/20 information from the Town of Halfmoon on the Champlain Canal Trail (Empire State Trail) from Upper Newtown Rd. to Mechanicville, a decision was made to stop this project. The engineering consultants who designed this trail, submitted revised figures to Hudson Valley Greenway that increased the construction costs an additional $1.9 million. The increase is due to several factors including materials for construction due to COVID-19, National Grid costs, and to a large portion being in a wetlands area. SO, “Work in Progress” below becomes “on hold.”

A Bump in the Trail


Work progresses on the trail and towpath from Upper Newtown Rd. to Mechanicville.

Work in Progress

There is currently no good (that is, off road) bicycle route connecting the Champlain Canal Trail trailhead on Upper Newtown Rd. and Mechanicville. There are three on-road alternative routes:

  • Ride 2.2 miles on the road/shoulder of Rt. 4/Rt. 32 (also NYS Bike Route 9)
  • Climb 2.5 miles up Upper Newtown Rd. and then follow Rt. 146 for 2.7 miles back down to Mechanicville
  • Climb 2.5 miles up Upper Newtown Rd. and then follow Rt. 146 and Pruyn Hill Rd for 2.9 miles to Mechanicville.

For an earlier posts, go here and here.

Arriving in Mechanicville (Photo courtesy Ed)

Construction on the Champlain Canal Trail on from Upper Newtown Rd. Trailhead (Photo courtesy Ed)

Here is the Trail Description in and from Waterford from the May 2019 “Champlain Canalway Trail Action Plan: Waterford is at the junction of the Hudson River, the Champlain Canal, the Mohawk River, and the Erie (NYS Barge) Canal. It is the start of the of both the original and current Champlain Canals. The Champlain Canalway Trail lies along the Old Champlain Canal and is developed fully throughout the Town and Village of Waterford. The trail runs from original Champlain Lock #4 at the southern point of the Town (called “North Side”) just across the dammed-up Mohawk River from Cohoes (where Lock #3 was located) and east of Rt. 32/Saratoga Ave. (Just up the wooden stairs from Lock 4 is the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center. Locks #3 and #4 were not there to raise and lower canal boats but to equalize the water level of the slack pond behind the damned-up Mohawk River with that of the Cohoes and Waterford sections of the canal. Lock #4 currently helps to control water level in the NYS Barge Canal.)

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The Mule at the Waterford Harbor Visitor Center

The trail continues north along the Old Champlain Canal for about 1.25 miles to the 4th St. Bridge into the Village and onto South St. It then continues to and through the Barge Canal Lock #2 Park across Broad St./Rt 32. No traffic control here – use caution. From this point, you follow the original Champlain Canal Trail from Broad St. for about 0.35 miles to the Village border just after the Old Champlain Canal Weighlock (remnants) and the overhead railroad bridge.

The Beautiful Trail Approaching the Weighlock

Old Champlain Canal Weighlock

Old Champlain Canal Lock #5 – View 1

Note setbacks for lock gates

Old Champlain Canal Lock #5– View 2

Old Champlain Canal Lock #5– View 3

Note setback for lock gate.

The trail then continues north for about 1.9 miles to the Town’s border with the Town of Halfmoon.


The Champlain Canal Trail at Waterford

You will pass Champlain Canal Lock 5 and then ride on to “Landfill Mountain” by Momentive Performance Materials.

Enjoy the Methane!

Momentive Performance Materials

Then, following a narrow paved road onto Bells Ln. (that changes into School House Ln.), you’ll enter Halfmoon with their towpath trail skirting the old Champlain Canal on your left. This undeveloped area is about as close as you’ll ever get to ride along the original canal through its surroundings. You can almost hear the clop-clop-clop of the mules’ hoofs. At 5.3 miles from Waterford, you’ll arrive at a trailhead with parking for 4-5 cars at Upper Newton Rd.

The On-Road Path North of Momentive

The North End Trail Head

Just across the road from the trailhead is evidence of construction of the new trail. The trail follows the towpath of the water-filled dug canal.

Natural State of the Champlain Canal Trail (2016)

This will be part of the Empire State Trail north connecting New York City to Canada. Go here for more detail on the currently rideable portions of the Champlain Canal Trail at Waterford.

MAP Champlain Canal Trail Upper Newtown Rd. 7-15-20

Afterword – learn more – Go here for a Chronology Champlain Canal.

The Champlain Canal Trail is a major component of the NYC-Canadian/USA border portion of the Empire State Trail. 

People on bicycles can make a detour from their tour of the Erie Canalway Trail as it passes through Cohoes to visit Waterford and the Champlain Canal Trail. A round trip from the Corning Riverfront Park in Albany to the preset end of the Champlain Canal Trail and return is a great one-day ride. See The Black Bridge and Beyond.

Alert Cyclist John M. provided much of the detail for this post.


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Filed under A Ride For You, Champlain Canal Trail, Empire State Trail, Waterford

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