Category Archives: A Ride For You

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

The Black Bridge and Beyond

[Update 6-21-21]

If you’ve taken the Black Bridge (or some other) route to Waterford (see earlier post), you’re in for a pleasant (but unusual) treat if you use it as your starting point to explore the Champlain Canal Trail north toward Mechanicville.


Hee Haw

After riding from the Black Bridge along the bikeway and after crossing from Peebles Island into Waterford, turn left/west of 2nd St. onto Broad St. (10.9 miles from the Row Center at the Corning Riverfront Park). Pass four streets on your right and come to the old Champlain Canal (11.1 miles from the Row Center). If you’re on 700X25 tires, lock up and take a nice walk up the canal towpath. If you are on wider tires, take the towpath (you’ll cross Division St., the only intersection in this area) past the foundations of the Weigh Lock and then those of Lock #5 and dry dock about 1.5 miles to the landfill and Momentive Performance Materials industrial complex (12.7 miles from the Row Center). The northerly path then continues on to Mechanicville.


What’s comin’ outta those pipes?


Momentive Monolith

But where is that path?

As you cruise over the landfill (with its ominous ventilators spewing forth God knows what) toward the fencing, you think that you’re in Gitmo with no way out. (The landfill covers the Old Champlain Canal – so guess where the leakage goes?) But as you get to the end where it appears that you are completely fenced in, you’ll spot a narrow, deeply rutted path leading down to the right (easterly) through the tall weeds and grass. After a tick check at the bottom, remount and head on a winding, unmarked  narrow paved road (Google says cross Clute St. onto Bells Lane North which changes into School House Lane). Notice up and to your left the original towpath that is inaccessible at present. Lo and behold, where the unmarked Schoolhouse Lane bears left at 13.4 miles from the Row Center and 2.3 miles from Waterford, you’ll come to the Half Moon Trail skirting the old Champlain Canal on your left.

The Half Moon Trail is a nice ride on hard-packed stone dust. At “high noon,” there is no shade, so choose your ride time accordingly if it’s hot hot hot. A curious feature of the trail is frequent “Hazard – 100 Feet Ahead,” “Hazard – Keep Left,” or just plain “Hazard” signs. After expecting an alligator or two to rise from the canal, it seems that these signs are to alert trail users to the utility poles along the side if the trail. Those lawyers in Hal Moon must be looking for something to do…

[Update 6-21-21]

Not to be missed is Champlain Canal Lock #7. Not only is there a well preserved lock with appropriate historical signage but a “waste water weir” to release excess canal water into McDonald Creek.  The towpath crosses the creek chasm on a stone arch with the creek being channeled UNDERNEATH the canal in a large culvert.   Lock 7, also known as Flynn’s Lock, was built about 1862 in the Town of Halfmoon.


The North End Trail HeadAlong the trial, watch for historical markers and remnants of the 200-year-old canal and later railroad structures. Cross Brookwood Rd., Lower Newton Rd., and an unmarked gravel pit road.  At 16.4 miles from the Row Center and 5.3 miles from Waterford, you’ll arrive at a trail head with parking for 4-5 cars, no hint of where you are, and stick-on letters on a utility pole saying “1 Mechan School” (20 Upper Newton Rd. according to the Town website). Just across the road is a barricade across the trail, which at this point is just grass, weeds, and brush leading on to Lock #8 and Mechanicville – clearly unrideable. There must be a plan here …


Future Plans?

Time to turn around and enjoy the peaceful, quite trail back to Waterford to continue learning about “Canal Days.”


A peaceful ride back to Waterford…

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Filed under A Ride For You, Black Bridge, Erie Canal Trail, Rail Trail, Rides

The Black Bridge Isn’t

Here is a nice day ride from Albany to Sunny Waterford. From Albany Bicycle Coalition HQ in Pine Hills, it’s 4.4 miles to the Boat Launch/Row Center at the Corning Riverfront Park via the Conventional Bicycle Lanes on Clinton Ave., Broadway, and Erie St. (Can’t wait for the new entry to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail at Colonie and Quay Sts. so one can avoid the crazy exit ramp from I-787.)


Row Center

Starting from this nice view of the Hudson, you have 4.5 miles from the Row Center to the car park/fishing spot in Watervaliet where the tunnel leads under a roaring I-787 to the pretty calm streets of the city.


Under I-787

Take a right onto Broadway. A recommended detour of a couple blocks (take the first left you can) will result in the best glazed doughnuts in the area from the Schuyler Bakery (637 3rd Ave. – open Tue – Sat) (Coffee is a Stewart’s – four or five doors south of the bakery.)



You can take your coffee and goodies down Broadway to the memorial park behind McDonald’s or save them for Green Island – see below.

Pay attention, as there are several challenging intersections and sometimes-heavy traffic on Broadway. As you get near the north end of Watervaliet at 23rd St., follow the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail straight ahead and not to the right onto NY Bike Route 9. Caution advised. Simply follow the MHBHT signs until you enter the Sovereign and Independent Nation of Green Island (which is green but not an island) for a rest stop at the Heatly School or the GIG (“Green Island Gazebo”) Park (with views of N. Troy and the Federal lock [it’s federal because its tidal]) (3.3 miles and 7.7 miles from the Row Center).


Green Island Gazebo & N. Troy

Now, here’s the well-kept secret – just past the school and park on Hudson Ave., the route turns left onto Tibbits Ave. and passes the large Paine Street Park on your left. Take the first right turn after the park and leave the MHBHT to go on Cannon St. Ignore the road closed signs as you pass between the gigantic concrete barriers and you’ll be on gravel but only for 1/10 mile, so don’t despair. Travel on and you are at the non-black Black Bridge (1.2 miles from the Green Island School and 8.7 miles from the Row Center).


The “Black” Bridge

The bridge takes you across the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson – stop and lean on the rail to enjoy the sight (on both sides) before you enter Van Schaick Island, Cohoes. (Cannon St. now becomes Railroad Dr. and later Delaware Ave. and finally Second St.)

You are now on a paved “multi use” path which will take you to Peebles Island and then again over the Mohawk to Broad St. in Waterford. While on the path, be mindful of the several intersections especially the intersection with Van Schaick Ave. that has no advance warning or stop signs and that of Ontario St., Rt. 470 where people in cars will show no mercy and there is a busy Cumberland Farms “quick stop.” (Be sure to contrast the Van Schaick House on your left with the monstrous development on the right.)


Van Schaick House

Be courteous to the walkers and joggers and verbally announce your presence when you overtake and with a “thank you” especially if they step aside to let you pass.

As you cross from Peebles Island into Waterford, see our remaining Dutch replica ship, the “Onrust,” to the right and the Canal Harbor. At Broad St., you’re about 12 miles and 1.5 hours from the Corning Riverfront Park.

You can spend days in Waterford exploring the old and new locks and other structures of the Erie, Champlain, and NYS Barge canals. The Waterford Historical Museum is located in the 1830 Hugh White Homestead just east of Saratoga St. Rt. 32 as it heads south to Cohoes. However, all this is another adventure.

Turning left/west onto Broad St., from Second St. and passing four streets on your right, you’ll come to the old Champlain Canal.


The Champlain Canal Trail at Waterford

If you’re on 700X25 tires, lock up and take a walk up the canal towpath. If you are on wider tires, take the towpath past old Lock #5 about 1.5 miles to the landfill and Momentive Performance Materials industrial complex. The northerly path then continues on to Mechanicville … but more on that later…

Heading back south to Waterford, continue directly across Broad St. to join up with the bicycle/walking paths for some easy touring along the canal with a visit to the Harbor Visitor Center (scene of the annual tugboat rally). Again, you can spend days exploring.

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Filed under A Ride For You, Black Bridge, Local Bike Rides, Rides

Arboretum-to-Arboretum Bike Ride Scheduled for May 19, 9 AM

Arboretum-to-Arboretum Bike Ride Scheduled for May 19, 9 AM

FOR MORE INFO – CONTACT: Ride Leader Paul Winkeller,


The first annual Capital Region Arboretum-to-Arboretum Bike Ride will take place on May 19th at 9:00 am. (Rain date May 20th).

The Landis Arboretum in Esperance and the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands are partnering for a Mohawk Hudson Cycling Club (MHCC) sanctioned ride that will be a 75 mile loop between the two arboretums. Details about the ride can be found at MHCC’s website:

The event begins at 9 am sharp at the Pine Hollow Arboretum (PHA) office at 16 Maple Avenue in Slingerlands. Riders will bike to the Landis Arboretum where there will be a brief “half time” ceremony and break before returning to the Pine Hollow Arboretum.

This event has been created to raise awareness of the relative proximity of the two arboreta and the work each non-profit organization is engaged in to protect, study and educate the general public about the importance of each groups’s unique and highly diverse upstate New York natural forest landscapes.

The ride begins at 9 am in Slingerlands, and the pace will be in the range of 15-17 miles per hour. Each rider will be provided a cue sheet with detailed directions.

The ride has been scheduled in conjunction with the 40th Anniversary of Landis’s Signature Plant, Book, Bake and Artisan Sale. The Landis Plant Sale is scheduled for both May 19th and 20th. The sale is open from 10am to 4pm. The plant sale will feature thousands of hardy and unusual trees, shrubs, and perennials. In addition, thousands of used books on gardening and other topics will be sold. Local artists will also be selling their unique crafts and nature related art. Homemade bake goods will be available to munch on while you shop. The sale is open free to the public.

Cyclists’ purchases will be transported to Pine Hollow Arboretum for pick-up at the end of the ride.

For more information on this ride please contact PHA Board Member and Arb To Arb Ride Leader Paul Winkeller at For more information about the Pine Hollow Arboretum please visit

For more information on the Landis Arboretum Plant Sale please contact Fred Breglia, Landis Arboretum Director at or call 518-875-6935. Visit for a complete listing of programs and events for scheduled for 2012.

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