Trail Ambassadors are volunteers who provide a warm welcome to Erie Canalway Trail users and offer assistance with directions, local attractions and lodging, and other issues that are encountered on the trail.
The Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY), in collaboration with Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation, initiated Canalway Trail Ambassadors in order to provide a “presence” on the trail and enhance the experiences of trail users.
In 2008, Ambassadors were placed on a segment of trail in Schenectady County as a pilot project under the auspices of the Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, as the Canalway Trail is known in this area. In 2012, the program expanded to the Rochester area. In 2015, an Ambassador group was formed at Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum to serve the section of trail within Old Erie Canal State Park
The role of a Trail Ambassador - "3 + 1"
The role of the Trail Ambassador can best be described by "3 + 1” functions, as follows:
- Assist and inform trail users
Ambassadors know the trail well. They learn the locations of trailheads, restrooms, food and water sources, other services and key information. They also are aware of the local government or state agency responsible for managing the trail. They carry a copy of the Cycling the Erie Canal guidebook.
- Monitor trail conditions.
- Promote trail courtesy, safety and awareness.
- Serve as a “Cheerleader” for the Canalway Trail (the “+1 function”)
In their interaction with people on the trail, Trail Ambassadors have an opportunity to educate them about trail etiquette related to trail use. They are NOT expected to enforce rules, but instead provide information in a friendly and positive manner. Often trail users are not aware that what they are doing violates rules or trail etiquette.
Ambassadors should go beyond providing technical assistance and local knowledge. Instead, they also express excitement and passion for the Canalway Trail as a recreational resource and the rich history and cultural heritage of the Canal corridor. The Erie Canal played a pivotal role in the history of New York State, and in developing a young nation. Moreover, many Canal communities go to great efforts to highlight and recognize this heritage. Therefore, taking a ride on the Canalway Trail is a unique experience. Trail Ambassadors foster an appreciation of the history and significance of the route that trail users now enjoy.
Want to help?
If you would like to participate in the Trail Ambassadors Program in the Schenectady-Niskayuna-Colonie area, please contact the Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail (518-372-8478).
To serve as an Ambassador in the Old Erie Canal State Park area (Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties), contact the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum (315) 687-3801).
For information about serving as an Ambassador in Monroe County or in other Canalway Trail locations, contact Park & Trails New York.
For additional information:
- Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail
- Mohawk River Community Partners
- Canalway Trails Association New York
- Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum
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