Category Archives: Erie Canal Trail

Why Are You Waiting? – Ride the Erie Canalway Trail

Thanks to the New York Bicycle Coalition, Adventure Cycling Association featured the proposed Empire State Trail in its March 2017 Adventure Cyclist magazine. When the trail is completed, it will be probably be the longest, contiguous off-road bicycle facility in the United States. Out-of-state and out-of-country riders will flock to enjoy the Erie Canalway Trail and the Champlain Canalway Trail to Canada.

Notably, Adventure Cycling represents itself as the country’s largest cycling membership non-profit organization (three times larger than the League of American Bicyclists), and all its members are focused on touring by bicycle. With the Governor’s recent Empire State Trail announcement and 2017 marking the first year of the eight-year Erie Canal Bicentennial Celebration, there’s no better time to head out on the Erie Canalway Trail than now. (Construction began on July 4, 1817 at Rome NY.)ptny-ect-jul-7-16-2017-card-blog-2-27-17

If you’re interested in experiencing the Erie Canalway Trail, consider participating in Parks & Trails New York’s 19th annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour. This eight-day, fully-supported bicycle tour is a great option for cyclists looking to accomplishment a long-distance tour without the effort of carrying gear and preparing meals.

If you are hesitant about the on-road portions (most of which are not overly intimidating), you can analyze the entire trail on Parks & Trails New York’s interactive map .  This map uses the same technology as the Albany Bicycle Coalition’s BikeAlbanyMap.  On both of these, your recommended route will consist of Google Maps’s bicycle-preferred routes (when there are no trail or recommended street routes nearby) and segments of the trail or the recommended street routes.  You’ll always be “pulled onto” the best route for people on bicycles.

On the Parks & Trails New York map, look for the red (paved), magenta (stone dust) or purple (natural – packed earth) portions.  On these portions, you’ll enjoy the bliss of car-free travel – no horns, no hassle, no histrionics.  Thus you can select portions of the Erie Canalway Trail that are mostly or exclusively “off road.”  In all probability, the bicycle you now own is suited to the Trail.

If you are up for the full, 400-mile Cycle the Erie Canal tour between Buffalo-Albany on July 9-16, 2017, go to Parks & Trails New York’s website to register .  There are also two- and four-day options if you can’t do the entire eight days.

If you elect to ride all or some of the trail on a do-it-yourself tour, you’ll want to get the latest “Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook” to use in addition to the (free) interactive Erie Canalway Trail map. The guide has 42 full-color maps, tips on planning your trip, information on lodging, attractions, and annual fairs, and festivals. Order from Parks & Trails New York for $24.95 plus tax & shipping or pick one up at your locally-owned book store.  While recently opened sections and improvements to the trial that are being made each year by the NYS Canal Corporation and local communities are not in the guidebook,  Parks & Trails New York’s online map is updated regularly.

Go to the Parks & Trails New York website to view the two-minute motivational video. You won’t regret taking the Erie Canalway Trail!

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Upcoming Key Dates

  • decades-of-mistakesCDTC Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee – Tue, 2/14/17, 9:00 AM, 1 Park Place, Albany NY 12205.
  • ABC Meeting – Thr, 2/23, 7:00 PM.

  • Empire State Trail Conference – Thr, 3/2 – More information to follow.

  • Earth Day Canal Clean Sweep – Fri-Sun, 4/21-23. Info here.

  • Explore the Erie Canalway Trail – Sat-Sun (9 days), 7/8-16. Info here.

  • NYBC “New York Bike Summit-Albany” – Fri, 9/15. Inaugural New York Bike Summit. One-day event on accelerating progress on bicycle, pedestrian, and active transportation activity. Call for workshop proposals.  Info here.

    enjoy-cycling

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SEBL Funded! Construction of the City of Albany South End Bikeway

Alert Cyclist Mark informs us as follows:

The State’s Regional Economic Development Council Awards for 2016 includes (page 81, middle of the page, project #627184) $325,000 toward design and construction of the South End Bikeway Link. It is described as a “two-way, Separated Bike Lane, also known as a cycle track, extending along the east (ED: river/port/RR) side of South Pearl Street where sidewalks exist.” The Times Union story is here.

The full project (with editorial corrections) is as follows: The City of Albany will design and construct the South End Multi-Use Trail, located in the South Waterfront District, that will link the Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail to the Mohawk-Hudson Hike-Bike Trail/Erie Canalway Trail, filling a gap in a more than 360-mile multi-use trail network. The proposed treatment is a two-way, Separated Bike Lane, also known as a cycle track, extending along the east side of South Pearl Street where sidewalks exist.

The funding of the South End Bikeway Link is perfectly timed with the pending completion of the Corning Riverfront Park Protected Bicycle Lanes and the other amenities as well as with completion of ABC’s BikeAlbanyMap. The three projects now provide people on bicycles with many options for safely and efficiently transporting themselves around the city and region.

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Building the ACHHRT

 

 

 

 

 

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The Black Bridge and Beyond

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.

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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.

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What’s comin’ outta those pipes?

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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…

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The North End Trail Head

Along 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 …

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Future Plans?

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

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A peaceful ride back to Waterford…

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Champlain Canalway Bicycle Tour – Sun, 8/14 – 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

5th Champlain Canalway Trail Bicycle Tour REGISTRATION OPEN!

Sunday, August 14 – Start: 9:00 am – Return: 4:00 pm – This year’s tour will begin at Hudson Crossing Park near Lock 5 just north of Schuylerville. It will then proceed through villages and countryside to Saratoga National Historical Park, with stops at selected significant historical landmarks related to the 1777 Revolutionary War campaign. Expert historians at each stop will introduce cyclists to local historical events that led to the Battles of Saratoga and changed the course of the war and our nation’s destiny.

Riders may return via the Caldwell Belle on the Hudson River or simply bicycle back to the start.

 Info and registration, here.

CCTour 2012 ~ 7-18-16

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The annual ride is presented by the Champlain Canalway Trail (CCT) Working Group in collaboration with the Saratoga National Historical Park, Hudson Crossing Park, Lakes to Locks Passage, Mohawk Maiden Cruises, and Akiba Travel. The ride shows the efforts to complete the Champlain Canalway Trail, a 62-mile multi-use path along the Hudson River and old or current Champlain Canal. The canal links the Erie Canal in Waterford with Lake Champlain in Whitehall and connects the communities in between. The trail is presently about 25 percent open for use. The CCT Working Group is a coalition of municipalities, counties, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations promoting the development and enjoyment of the trail. A percentage of the proceeds will go to Hudson Crossing Park to be used to advance the building of the Champlain Canalway Trail.

CCTour Talk 7-18-16

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