Category Archives: Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail

Monkey Wards Way Now Open

Good News! – The Monkey Wards Way Connector linking Rt. 32/Broadway in Menands at the former Montgomery Ward retail store and warehouse and the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail just south of Troy is now open. This is a fine addition to the trail network. 

There is still a little work to be completed (e.g., control panels for the bicycle-pedestrian crossings at Broadway).

UPDATE – as the following two photos (taken 3-30-21) show, the combined bicycle-pedestrian traffic light controls are operational.

#1 – Controls for crossing the I-787 ramp
#2 – Control on west side of Broadway for crossing Broadway
Entry from Broadway (older photo)

Exiting onto Broadway – Bike Route #9

The Route

The RouteMonkey Wards Way is the only Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail entry/exit between Albany’s Corning Riverfront Park and the Rt. 378 Bridge entrance to S. Troy and the only MHBHT access on the West side of the Hudson between Corning Riverfront Park at the Colonie St./boat launch area and 4th Street in Watervliet. The new Menands entrance is about 2.2 miles on Broadway from Watervliet’s 4th St. entrance and 3.1 miles on Broadway from Albany’s N. Lawrence St. Those going to or coming from a location on Broadway would have to choose an entry point – based on their traffic tolerance level and total distance.

Area Map

Previously, once riders started out south from S. Troy or north from the Corning Riverfront Park on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, they committed to a 6-mile ride. This new Connector is the only modification to entry to the MHBHT since the July 2010 installation of the connection from the trail to S. Troy over the Rt. 378 Bridge (10 years ago!).

Connection Ramp to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail
A Unicycle Maybe?
Looking Down onto the MHBHT and the Hudson River
Another View of the MHBHT – Note Walker

Sidebar – As an editorial note, this MHBHT/UST connection, as great as it is, was never 100 percent completed. First, there is no wayfinding features at either end so that only the “in-the-know” riders are aware of it. The Troy portion of the trail leaves people on bicycles with 2 options: dive into the “crazy-driver convention” at the Mill St./High/St./Burden Ave./Morrison Ave. traffic spaghetti bowl or ride the narrow, unkempt, bumpy sidewalk from the bridge to the traffic signal at Mill and Water. Not a feat for the faint of heart. One then makes a mad dash to the relative calm of Troy’s wonderful on- and off-street Uncle Sam Trail. For a review of the Uncle Sam Trail, go here – Uncle Sam Trail | Albany Bicycle Coalition On the plus side, the “serpentine” ramp connection between bridge sidewalk and the  trail was carefully engineered so that – although it looks steep – the majority of riders can climb it.

Potential Benefits – For some people, this new connector will be useful. Broadway is slowly being converted to semi-bicycle friendliness with a big gap between N. Pearl and downtown Albany (where there are zero facilities worth note). Northbound, there is a gap from Monkey Wards Way to Watervliet in which there are ample “low stress” side streets until one gets to the (off road) side path at 4th St. (See the CapitalNYBikeMap.) The traffic volume between the new Connector and Watervliet – with the exception of the Rt. 78 exit/entrance ramp area – is manageable for many riders, albeit in a low-low gear.

Westerly View – Note Wards (aka “Riverview Center”)
View from the Trail – Entrance Ramp to I-787 North and Exit Ramp from I-787 South – Noisy!

Monkey Wards Way offers options along that stretch as well as potential connection to other popular cycling routes such as the network of bicycle lanes on Van Rensselaer Blvd. and Northern Blvd. connecting the City of Albany and Albany Rural Cemetery. New explorers should note that most Van Rensselaer Blvd.-Broadway connections involve some notable hills.

Crossing I-787 – Looking South

Monkey Wards in the Background Looking North – Bike Lanes Approaching the Entrance to Monkey Wards Way

Maintenance – Maintenance will be a major concern, as the bottle throwers will continue their usual practice leaving a trail of potential flats behind them. The sections closest to the roadway will be the most troublesome as motor vehicle traffic sweeps trash into the path. The Rt. 378 path connecting the Uncle Sam Trail to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail suffers from the same malady. Volunteers have occasionally taken to cleaning the area (as it seems to fall in one of those municipal border twilight zones that “is not my problem”). The 378 bridge substantial curbs lessen the sideward movement of road trash, unlike the Monkey Wards Way Bridge where the road way and trail are on one surface near and over the I-787 overpass (see photos). It will need frequent cleaning with non-standard-width equipment.

Construction 1 – Looking West with Monkey Wards to the Right on Broadway

Construction 2 (looking east toward Troy)

Caveats – On the trail, there are two very sharp bends necessitated by the land available and the underpass at the southbound entrance ramp form Rt. 378 to I-87. There are “turn arrow” warning signs on both sides of the underpass, but it is sharp and fast and the tunnel is narrow. Riders will have to be cautious particularly when riding downhill.

The Tunnel – Slow Down!
Exiting the Tunnel Heading West Toward Wards and Broadway

Along Rt. 378 (esp. east bound), the trail is a noisy, noisy route with very high speed traffic just off one’s left shoulder and a skimpy, low-level guard rail.

Trail and Road on Same Surface Level – Low “Guard Rail”

People on bicycles entering the Monkey Wards Way from the south and those continuing north on Broadway will have to deal with a merging motor vehicle right turn lane and the bicycle lane that ends abruptly at the Connector entrance. It is not clear if there will be bicycle-level traffic control for people on bicycles coming south on Broadway and wanting to enter the Connector and the MHBHT. The bicycle lanes run south to the Broadway intersection with N. Pearl St.

Bike Lane-Motor Vehicle Turn Lane – Note Bike Lane Moves from Curb to Through Lane on the Left

Project Description – “Monkey Wards Way” is a playful name used until an official name is chosen. New York State Department of Transportation refers to the $7.9 million project as “Bicycle and Pedestrian Connection from Broadway to the Mohawk Hudson Bike Trail Along the Hudson River, Crossing Interstate 787 in the Village of Menands,” clearly not a catchy title to remember. See more on Department of Transportation’s project here –   NYSDOT | DYN_PROJECT_DETAILS

Conclusion – The new Monkey Wards Way presents an exciting option for riders going to or coming from various destinations. As the so-called warehouse district evolves and bicycle amenities on Broadway are expanded, the Connector suggests some interesting benefits. As always, people on bicycles will be the final judges on any the new bicycle travel option.

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Filed under Capital Trails-New York, Empire State Trail, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Trail Network, Watervliet

Rossi Junction – Honoring a Bicycling Hero

Rossi Junction – Honoring a Crucial Bicycling Activist – New York’s network of bike trails, paths, and routes that we enjoy today did not just materialize. In the 1990s laws were enacted that allowed the federal Highway Trust Fund to be used for bicycle and pedestrian needs. Afterwards, public investment in bicycle infrastructure exploded. No activist contributed more to New York State’s bicycle infrastructure than did Lou Rossi. He was a principal influence in opening the trust fund, and then became the driving force behind New York’s system of 21 signed Bike Routes. He wrote popular books on touring the state by bicycle. Moreover, as a founding member of NYBC, the New York State Bicycling Coalition, he formed an organization that vigorously lobbies State government to make cycling in New York friendlier and safer. You can learn more about Lou Rossi’s career and contributions to New York’s bike systems at this Internet link: https://tinyurl.com/RossiStory.

When Lou passed away in 2020, his colleagues at the State Department of Transportation decided to construct a memorial to honor his immense contribution to bicycling. Lou’s work exemplifies the best of Civil Service. Few in the broad bicycle community are aware of his contributions, but we all owe him immense gratitude. His colleagues hope to dedicate the memorial this spring. The memorial will be in Albany the intersection of the two longest Bike Routes – Bike Route 5 from Niagara Falls to Massachusetts and Bike Route 9 from Canada to New York City. ROSSI JUNCTION will denote the junction’s significance and have a rest area for local and touring cyclists’ enjoyment. If you want to know more about the memorial plans, go to this link: https://tinyurl.com/MemorialDescription.

Proposed Memorial Site at Corning Riverfront Park

We are raising funds to erect a suitable junction marker with interpretive plaques. If you enjoy New York State’s bike network or otherwise have benefited from Lou’s efforts we hope you will help.

If you would like to assist, please make a check out to the New York Bicycling Coalition and put “For Lou Rossi Memorial Fund” on the memo line. Mail it to New York Bicycling Coalition, PO Box 8868, Albany, NY 12208. Alternatively, go online at NYBC.net where you can use a credit card.

Thank You from the Committee for a Memorial to Lou Rossi:

Rich Brustman

Barry Hecht

Dick Maitino

Jeff Olson

Questions? You can email us at LouRossiMemorial@gmail.com or call at 518-461-8803

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Filed under Fundraising, Local Heros, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail

A Mystery at Schuyler Flatts

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!

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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?

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Mystery Sign

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 ParkSchuyler 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).

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Filed under Comings and Goings, Erie Canal Trail, Local Bike Rides, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Trail Network, Watervliet

Cycle Track in Watervliet – Coming Soon!

The long awaited safe bikeway and multiuse path through Watervliet is coming to fruition. It originates at the park/trail head/parking lot terminus of the off-road portion of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail and continues for about one and one-half miles to 23rd St. The “Watervliet Bike Path” will become shared lanes at 23rd St. for access to the Hudson Shores Park.

Map of the Project Area

Bike Way Map 2019

Those continuing to Green Isl. and the Erie CanalwayTrail/Empire State Trailwill continue on shared lanes on Broadway until 25th St. and then follow Albany St. to the Green Isl. Bridge to Troy or Hudson Ave. north – the current route of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.

Concept of Broadway Cycle TrackBrdway Near Arsenal EST

Broadway at 4th St. Exiting From the Park/Trail Head/Parking at Current Terminus of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail

Brdwy & 4th MHBHT Watervliet 6-7-20

We were unsuccessful in getting from the City of Watervliet definitive information on the route and road treatments of the Empire State Trail/Watervliet Bike Path from Watervliet through to Green Isl. We are particularly interested in the treatment around the Rt. 2 Watervliet-Troy Bridge and the aforementioned Albany Ave./Hudson Ave./Green Isl. Bridge intersection. The New York State Department of Transportation 2018 “On-Road Routes Concept Plan” for the Empire State Trail sheds no light on this issue.

Progress Just North Of 4th St. – Note Passano Paints

More progress in Watervliet today

 James Roy Mills 1835 – Now Used By Passano Paints

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 Construction Ahead! (Heading South On Broadway)

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 Cycle Track Route between Motor Vehicle Lane And I-787 Fence (2 Views)

 Cycle Track Base I-787 Fence (North and South Views)

 View South with Arsenal Fence to the Right

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Heretofore, Broadway from the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail at 4th St. was one of the main barriers for less road-hardened riders going on to Troy, Cohoes, the Black Bridge, Champlain Canal Trail, Waterford, and the many sites along the way. The new bikeway is very impressive and will make the ride a wonderful experience. I-787 will be noisy but the bikeway will be safe and relaxing traffic wise.

 Empire State Trail staff graciously provided background resources and some of the information herein.

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Filed under Capital Trails-New York, City Review, Cycle Track, Empire State Trail, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Watervliet

2018 Daily Grind Ride

A report on the 2018 Daily Grind Ride by Hugh.

“We decided to “grind it out” it out on Saturday August 18th from one Daily Grind to another.” 

     by Hugh Johnson

On August 11th it was looking as if “Mother Nature” was going to cooperate and allow for a an Albany Biking Coalition (ABC) ride from the “Daily Grind” in Albany to the one in Troy along the bike path.

Well, at the last minute, rain developed forcing the ride to be cancelled even though some rode through the rain for Daily Grind Ride -18 Part “A.”

DG Pre-Ride 8-11-18

The “A Team”

A week later, the same dilemma unfolded. This time the weather trends went from better to worse, but by Saturday morning, there was hope that we could squeeze the ride despite some gloomy forecasts.

I, being a retired NWS forecaster, put my thinking cap on and looked at lots of data. It looked to me besides a few rogue showers, we might be able to squeeze the ride in. After much discussion, we decided NOT to cancel the ride.

Most of the group, consisting of 11 bikers, met at the Daily Grind on Lark Street in Albany. However, two met with the remainder of the group at the Albany Riverfront Park boat launch. As the group left the Daily Grind, a new line of showers associated with the actual cold front blossomed to our northwest and strengthened. Luckily, the folks who rode from the Grind got down to shelter under I-787 before the big dump.

Unfortunately, there was some small faux pas, as Glenn had to swerve to avoid a biker on the wrong side of the road, taking action only to find his back tire caught in a crack. As a result, the law of physics took over. The wheel stopped the forward momentum of the bike but not the rider. As a result, Glenn took off from the seat and landed onto the road. Fortunately he was probably going less than 10 mph so while a “perfect storm” of events leading up to the minor accident, it could have been worse. He had wrapped his knee up in a Band-Aid as it was scrapped, but luckily not significantly injured. He showed up a few minutes behind the rest of the group.

It took some convincing, but I persuaded all the folks to remain under the bridge. It took some time for the really heavy rainfall to arrive but when it did, I think everyone was glad to be hunkered underneath the 787 bridge as the rain came slashing. We remained anchored for the better part of an hour until the rains finally let up. Our forecast dilemma was not over. There was yet another batch of showers trying to work toward us in the Schoharie Valley. However, I noticed our wind had shifted to the north and there was a distinct cooling compared to the earlier stifling feel to the day. I surmised the cold front had gone through and the next batch of showers would likely remain south of us.

We started, still with some light rain, and MANY puddles on the bike trail. Slowly we ambled, well maybe NOT so slowly. We got to the Rt. 378/High St. Bridge where we had to climb one of our few hills, the curvy extension from the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail to the bridge. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was still water flowing down the incline, but it was no problem getting up to the bridge. After that, we stayed on the left side of the bridge and ended up over another bridge overlooking the Wynantskill which was roaring quite a bit due to the rains (see picture).

Wyantskill 8-18-18

The Power of Troy

We regrouped, and then zig zagged our way across the still developing “Uncle Sam Trail” through the riverfront of Troy. At a brief stop, Pam talked about the Burden Iron Museum (second photo below). We did leave the trail, climbing one short but very steep hill that put us on 3rd Street and to our destination, the Daily Grind Café in Troy.

Burden Iron 8-18-18

Burden Iron Co.

We got in and had a nice brunch/lunch for half price. The staff was very friendly and the food delicious. We hung awhile with chatting away. I checked the radar again and alas, it looked as if the second batch of rain was JUST going to miss us!

We headed back to a slowly clearing sky and a refreshingly drier air mass. As a little perk, we even had a tail wind back to Albany (a north wind). The trip back saw a much drier surface, with just a few remaining standing puddles. As usual, the riders split up a little as some had to get somewhere with a deadline. Some were tired and needed to rest more. By the time we pulled into the riverfront, the sun was brightly shining leaving only a small evidence of the earlier deluge. The ride was a little over 20 miles.

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I seem to have this curse about me, the “Hughie curse.” With few exceptions, weather almost always tried to get in the way when I participate in these “organized” events. The same issue happened when I lead a Pine Bush Hike in both May and June. The May hike was washed out but we snuck the June one before it rained. Today was no exception but we won out over Mother Nature!

Our riders were Barb, Oliver, Brent (ride leader), Hugh, Glenn (road warrior), Pam (co-leader), Dana, Mark, Ed, Dick, and Lorenz.

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Filed under Local Bike Rides, Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, Troy Cycling, Uncle Sam Trail