While snooping around the new cycle track in Watervliet (see Cycle Track in Watervliet – Update 9-8-20) and winding back to Broadway/Rt 32, we came across a curious sign at the “dead end” at the southern terminus of Broadway. Clearly, this sign was placed with some intent. The google street view (image dated 2007) DOES NOT show the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail (MHBHT) signs. The Village of Menands notes that “The Park includes a walking and jogging trail with access to the Hudson-Mohawk Bike Path.” Maybe there are yet more signs to be found in the park!
The sign attests to continuation of both the Erie Canalway Trail and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Why is it there? What was the plan? Where does it lead?
Close Up – Mystery Sign
Option 1 – If south-bound riders on the Empire State Trail/Erie Canalway Trail/Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail were unfamiliar with the connection of Broadway in Watervliet to the I-787 underpass leading to the MHBHT south to Albany or had just missed the turn, they could follow the sign into the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. The park shows clearly in the photograph. After some considerable confusion, the riders might have headed south on Broadway/Rt 32 searching for more MHBHT trail signage – a futile search indeed. It would be one group of confused cyclists! (If there is any signage for the MHBHT/Corning Riverfront Park on southbound Broadway, it is well hidden.) On the following map, use the dark blue trail and the red making on Broadway.
Schuyler Broadway Route Map
OPTION 2 – South-bound riders who wanted to get to Broadway/Rt 32 would find this sign very welcoming. Following it, they would avoid the traffic and intersections on Rt. 32 in Watervliet and would, instead, have a pleasant ride through the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. Following the paved path through the park, riders would exit onto Broadway at Village One Apartments/Schuyler Inn. While there is no active traffic control at this intersection, there is a well-marked pedestrian crossing with blinking caution lights. Riders then could proceed south on Broadway’s wide shoulders either to immediately leave for the “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” after 2/10 miles or to continue south on Broadway. (The “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” takes one to the bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. and Northern Blvd. and then to those on Clinton Ave.) This, of course, assumes that our riders are familiar with this option – leaving the MHBHT at 4th St. Those not aware of the mystery sign would have vended their way through city streets and could have reached the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park via 2nd Ave. and entered the park on Schuyler Ln.
OPTION 3 – Really sophisticated riders who were planning on the “Albany Rural Cemetery Bypass” or who merely wanted to visit the park, would have left the MHBHT at 8th St. and then taken an immediate left turn onto 1st Ave or onto the unmarked road just past 1st Ave. to visit the Erie Canal Lower Side Cut Lock Park. Historically minded riders would have left the park on what is now an alley between 1st Ave./2nd Ave., and 3rd Ave. and followed the filled-in prism of the original Erie Canal to Schuyler Ln. and the Flatts. There are a couple uncertain spots on this route, but the perseverant rider will enjoy tracing the canal from the US Army Watervliet Arsenal to Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park and the preserved remnant of the original canal.
Option 4 – Riders who got to 4th St. at the I-787 underpass (leading to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail south to Albany) could also brave the almost unride-able Schuyler Flatts Trail to the Flatts. They could hop the curb just after the left turn toward the Hudson River and follow the very scenic trail to its end at Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park. Sadly, this trail has been essentially abandoned with poor or misleading signage, broken pavement, and falling fencing. See the dark blue trail in the park and along the trail to 4th St. to follow the “Option 4” route.
Schuyler Flatts Route Map
More on the Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park – Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park – Located on Rt 32 between Menands and Watervliet in the Town of Colonie, this 12-acre park opened in fall 2002 on what was once the farm of the Schuyler family. The Schuyler farm was a staging area for revolutionary war encampments. Prior to this, it was the site of a Mohican summer encampment.
The area has great historical and archeological significance and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Park includes a walking and jogging trail with access to the Hudson-Mohawk Bike Path. The park itself is a tranquil, wide-open green space for strolling and picnicking. A notable feature is a replica of a Dutch barn, testimony to the extensive (and lasting) presence of the settlers from the Netherlands. Of perhaps of more interest to the Erie Canalway Trail rider is the preserved prism of the original “Clinton’s Ditch” Erie Canal located just along Broadway. Tracing imaginary lines north and south from this point, will bring one to the canal’s former route along the Hudson-Mohawk Animal Shelter and then to “Canal Rd. S.” and Erie Blvd. in Albany. North will take you to the Watervliet alley and the Lower Side Cut Lock (see more in Option 3 above).
The Erie Canal was 363 miles long and included 18 aqueducts (to carry the canal over ravines, streams, and rivers) and 83 locks (with a rise of 568 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie). The cross-section or “prism” of the original Erie Canal was 4 feet deep, 40 feet wide at the water surface, and 28 feet at the bottom. It floated boats carrying 30 tons of freight. There was a 10-foot wide towpath along the bank of the canal for the horses (for packet boats) or mules (for cargo barges).