Canalway Trail Partnership
Since 1995, Parks & Trails New York has worked in partnership with the New York State Canal Corporation to create a trail system that is an asset to nearby canal communities and a destination for bicyclists from around the world.
Early on in this partnership, PTNY and the Canal Corporation focused on assessing gaps in the trail network, hosting community charrettes, and developing local interest in the trail and support for continued development. As these efforts progressed, a strong emphasis was placed on advocating for closing the gaps in the trail. During that time, we published annual Close the Gaps reports, and held media events such as close the gaps bike rides and postcard-writing campaigns. These advocacy efforts were a significant factor leading to the 2017 announcement that the state would create the Empire State Trail.
Today, our partnership is focused on community engagement and promoting the Trail. PTNY currently administers the following programs in partnership with the Canal Corporation.
Through the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail program, members of the public have the opportunity to join a network of stewards that assume primary responsibility for routine maintenance along the Erie Canalway Trail throughout the season, offering a safe and enjoyable experience for users of all ages and abilities.
Trail Ambassadors are the “eyes and ears” of the Erie Canalway Trail, and are responsible for offering assistance with directions, local attractions and lodging, and other issues that are encountered on the trail.
Each year, in commemoration of Earth Day, members of the public, community organizations, and local groups join together to participate in Canal Clean Sweep to prepare the Canalway System for the recreation season by cleaning up debris and undertaking various beautification projects.
Parks & Trails New York conducts annual user counts along the trail through both manual surveys and by using electronic counters, and produces an annual report summarizing usage along the trail. The data collected is used to create an annual report, “Who’s on the Trail?” In 2021, usage of the Canalway Trail totaled 3.3 million people, including 3.1 million along the Erie Canalway Trail and 215,000 on the Champlain Canalway Trail
Bike Friendly New York is a free certification program that recognizes and supports businesses that offer services and amenities that accommodate cyclists. To become certified as a Bike Friendly New York business, all establishments must meet three baseline requirements in addition to specific services based on the type of establishment.
The annual Bicyclists Bring Business (B3) event is held in a select location along the Erie or Champlain Canalway Trail. The event includes a workshop and community bikearound that provides community partners, businesses, residents, and cyclists a unique set of resources to help them capitalize on the growing bicycle tourism market in their area.
Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation will work with the Village of Brockport to develop and implement an Empire State Trail Town program, modeled after the Great Allegheny Passage’s highly successful program. A Trail Town program, which aims to leverage the economic impact of a trail and outdoor resources to benefit nearby communities, complements Reimagine the Canals goals by demonstrating how the Erie Canal, and the Erie Canalway Trail, can support and advance economic development along the canal corridor.
Interactive map itineraries that direct Canalway Trail visitors to communities, local attractions, bike friendly businesses, and amenities within a short distance of the trail, allowing users to fully experience the Canalway corridor.