About the Erie Canalway Trail

The approximately 380-mile Erie Canalway Trail route runs east-west between the cities of Albany an Buffalo in upstate NewYork. Along the way, it links the cities of Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, and Schenectady.

The trail is mostly level with an average grade of 1%, since it primarily follows canal and rail corridors. There are a few steeper grades and hills (climbs greater than 400 feet),mostly in the Mohawk River Valley.

Surface

The off-road segments of the Erie CanalwayTrail route have different surfaces. Most of the trail is surfaced in stone dust, although there are significant paved sections and a few "natural" segments. The stone dust surface is comprised of crushed limestone, which, when compacted and dry, is hard like pavement and is universally accessible. However, when newly installed or wet, it can ‘grab’ the narrow wheels of touring and racing bicycles and wheelchairs. Wheeled users should use caution under the above conditions. The asphalt surfacing is similar to most paved roads.

Because stone dust is the most common surface type, wide tires are preferable for all types of bicycles and the use of a hybrid or mountain bike with non-knobby tires is recommended.

Natural surfacing basically means that the old towpath or rail corridor has been cleared of trees and brush. The trail tread along many of the natural segments is rutted and lined with roots. Persons riding bikes that aren’t equipped with wider tires and shocks or suspension will find these sections uncomfortable to ride at anything much above a walking pace and may want to seek out alternate on-road options.

Getting to the trail

Visitors can reach the Erie Canal corridor by several means of transportation.

Four international airports serve the corridor. In addition, numerous airfields and small public airports are located along the corridor within a modest bicycle ride of the Erie Canalway Trail.

Nine Amtrak stations provide rail service along a route that generally parallels that of the canal and offers links to NewYork City, Toronto, Montreal, Cleveland, Chicago, and Boston.

Long-distance bus lines serve most of the larger cities along the route. Greyhound and Trailways are the two main ticketing companies.

The NewYork State Thruway (I-90) roughly parallels the canal and is the primary artery for automotive travel through the region.

The Erie Canalway Trail is, for the most part, easy to access, with numerous trailheads with formalized parking space. Most of these trailheads and parking areas are shown on the maps. Many of the locks and lift bridges operated by the New York State Canal Corporation also have parking areas. If you don’t see signs indicating designated parking at these locations, be sure to check with the attendants.

Many trailheads present no major barriers to persons with disabilities or are intentionally designed to be universally accessible for those using wheelchairs. These trailheads are indicated with a special symbol on the map.

Downtown areas of cities and medium to large villages usually have designated parking areas. However, these areas are frequently limited to short-term parking. Be sure to check the posted parking regulations before setting out on your trip. In large cities, paid parking lots close to the trail route are often the most convenient and secure options; many of these are also marked on the detail maps. If you plan to stay overnight at hotels or B&B’s, you might also ask to use their parking facilities.

Larger urban and suburban areas usually have regional transit systems that can be used to reach trail access points. Many of these systems are equipped to carry bicycles as well as pedestrians. Call visitor information centers to obtain numbers for local transit agencies.

Weather

For cyclists and walkers, May through September offer the best weather for an extended trip on the Erie Canalway Trail. June, July, and August tend to be the sunniest and driest months. Summer precipitation often means short but powerful thunderstorms with heavy rain. Spring and fall rain showers tend to be lighter, but last longer.

For more accurate conditions and forecasts, visit the National Weather Service homepage (www.nws.noaa.gov) and look up the weather for Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, or Albany. Cross-country skiers may be interested to know that the western and central portions of the trail corridor get the most average snowfall: Buffalo & Rochester – 91 inches; Syracuse – 115 inches; Albany – 64 inches. Some sections of the Canalway Trail permit snowmobile use. Always be familiar with the regulations of the section of the trail you are using. The chart below shows basic seasonal weather data averaged for the whole corridor.


Month

Mar-April
May
June
July
Aug
Sept
Oct-Nov
Dec - Feb
Hi   Temperature
50
68
77
82
79
72
54
33
Low Temperature
31
46
55
60
59
51
37
17
Relative Humidity
57
54
56
55
58
61
63
68
Wind Speed
11
10
9
9
8
8
10
11
Wind Direction
W
W
NW
NW
W
W
SW
W
Percent Possible Sunshine
50%
57%
63%
66%
63%
57%
40%
36%
Days with any Precipitation
44%
41%
37%
33%
33%
36%
43%
49%

 

 
 
 
 
Find out about Parks & Trails New York’s
annual eight-day Cycling the Erie Canal bike tour.
It’s a great tour for riders of all ages and abilities.
 
           
 

29 Elk Street * Albany, NY 12207 * (ph) 518-434-1583 * (fax) 518-427-0067 * ptny@ptny.org