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Inland and east of the Hudson River, the Uncle Sam Bike Trail (also called the Uncle Sam Trail or Uncle Sam Bikeway) largely serves as a trail for residents of Troy. If, however, you are traveling in the area and want to stretch your legs, this trail offers a scenic retreat. It is also part of the extensive network of trails and on-road bike routes in the area. In particular, on the west side of the Hudson River, you can pick up the Erie Canalway Trail, which stretches across northern New York from Albany to Buffalo.
For convenient parking and less urban congestion, begin at the north end on Route 142. From here the trail is quickly enclosed in a canopy formed by a variety of trees, including oak, aspen, maple and cottonwood. Through the trees on your right you have a bird's-eye view of a suburban neighborhood. On your left rises a wooded hillside that forms a forest backdrop for virtually the length of the path, except where the trail crosses roads. Enjoy this verdant interlude but don't forget to watch the trail—it is considerably eroded in some places, and farther south the pavement is occasionally uneven.
About halfway, your glimpses of Troy become more urban. At mile 1.7 you pass the buildings and athletic field of the large Lansingburgh High School. A granite obelisk near the trail marks Knickerbocker Park's memorial playgrounds, a good spot for taking a break to enjoy the sweeping view of the valley beyond.
The Uncle Sam Bikeway follows the corridor of the Boston & Maine Railroad. The B&M brought passenger traffic and a lesser amount of freight traffic to Troy, where travelers could connect with the New York Central and the Delaware & Hudson Railway. Troy was also home to Samuel Wilson, who supplied upstate New York troops with meat during the War of 1812. The story goes that provisions came in barrels stamped "U.S." and soldiers joked that it stood for "Uncle Sam." The name came to stand for the patriotic caricature of America.
At the trail's southern end, you'll emerge from the woods into the city. There is no parking access here, and bicyclists take note: Keep your eyes open for broken glass on the trail's last block.
The northern trailhead is in north Troy on State Route 142 (Northern Drive), one block east of 9th Avenue. Look for the trail and parking area on the south side of the highway.
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