The Erie Canalway Trail runs 365 miles, from Buffalo in the west to Albany in the east, linking other cities of Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, and Schenectady. As of August 2011, about 75% of the trail is complete with a few remaining gaps (information below). The trail is mostly level, although portions through the Mohawk River Valley are a little bit steeper.
Most of the Erie Canalway Trail is surfaced in crushed limestone dust, which can be smooth and make for easy riding when dry, more difficult riding when wet or freshly laid. For this reason, if you're biking the trail, wider tires are recommended. Other parts of the trail are natural surface, which means tree roots and ruts can sometimes make for difficult biking or hinder wheelchairs. Even fewer sections have asphalt surfaces, and there are long sections in some parts of the trail that are on-road.
Ever since the canalway system was replaced by highway, freight and air traffic, people along the extensive canalway have sought ways to revitalize their communities. As early as the 1960s, communities began to develop trail systems along their neighboring towpaths. Today these trails form a vital part of people's lives, not only providing recreation and non-motorized commuter alternatives, but invigorating communities through commercial, historical and artistic development, while linking neighboring towns.
This section of the Erie Canalway Trail is also known as the Erie Canal Heritage Trail, which stretches 100 miles from Tonawanda to Newark, NY. For cyclists there are two main gaps in the trail that are bridged by riding on roads between Mayors Park (but keep to the south of the Canal along Creekside Drive) and Amherst Veterans Canal Park. There is another 6-mile gap from Amherst Museum Colony Park to Lockport (Clinton St.). You can pick up the Canalway Trail again just east of Lock 35 and continue all the way to Newark. There's a 30-mile gap in the trail from Lyons to Port Byron, where the trail picks up again (Erie Canalway Trail: Port Byron to Utica
). You can also head south from Tonawanda to Buffalo along the Riverwalk segment
Horseback riding and snowmobiling are permitted in some sections of this trail. For more information call the Canal Corporation: 800-4CANAL4 (800-422-6254).
There are numerous access points and places to park along the Erie Canalway Trail. For more information, contact Parks and Trails New York