- Find a Trail
- My TrailLink
- Explore Trails
- About Us
- Get Involved
Closure Notices: In Palmyra/Wayne County, a portion of the trail is closed between route 21 and Swift Landing Park. In Oneida-Verona, Oneida County, a bridge replacement is taking place at the corner of SR 31 and SR 46, and a detour is in place. In Albany-Rensselaer, Albany & Rensselaer Counties, the pedestrian bridge at Dunn Memorial Bridge is closed indefinitely (follow according detour signs). In Macedon, Wayne County a short section from Walworth Park to Pal-Mac Park is closed for aqueduct repairs. For all closure notices regarding the Erie Canalway Trail, see Empire State Trail for more up to date information.
When complete, the Erie Canalway Trail will run for 360 miles in upstate New York—from Buffalo in the west to Albany in the east—linking many other communities along the way, including Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Utica, and Schenectady. It currently comprises more than 290 miles of open trail and has a few remaining gaps. In 2018, a 5-mile gap on the eastern side of the trail was closed when a new section of the trail opened between Pattersonville and Amsterdam.
About the Route
Most of the trail follows these canal and rail corridors and it is nearly level with an average grade of 1 percent. A few steeper grades and hill climbs can be found in the Mohawk Valley section on the trail's eastern half. Large sections of the trail are surfaced in stone dust from crushed limestone; however, some stone dust sections are being converted to asphalt paving. A range of bike types can be used effectively on the trail, including mountain and hybrid bikes, as well as road bikes equipped with wider tires (28 mm or more recommended). The two longest paved sections are at either end of the trail: from Albany to Schoharie Crossing and from Buffalo to Pendleton.
There are several on-road gaps throughout the trail, but most are easily navigable with trail signage and road markings.
For those who want to cross-country ski, the western and central portions of the trail receive the most average snowfall. The trail is open year-round, but it's up to each municipality whether they wish to plow, so check with the local government if planning to use the trail in the winter months, especially if interested in snowmobiling, which is permitted in some of the more rural areas.
The western segment of the Erie Canalway Trail is also referred to as the Shoreline Trail. The southern endpoint is in downtown Buffalo and travels about 13 miles north to Tonawanda. Part of the route includes the Riverwalk along the Niagara River, which is quite scenic and provides access to two popular recreational amenities in Buffalo: LaSalle Park and Riverside Park, both offering athletic fields and places to picnic. In this section, there are overlooks and viewing platforms to stop and enjoy the breathtaking sights of both the Niagara River and Lake Erie. In Buffalo, trail users can also cross the river into Canada on the Peace Bridge.
Between North Tonawanda and Lyons, the Erie Canalway Trail continues nearly seamlessly for more than 100 miles. For history buffs, a worthwhile side trip in this section is the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Trail Museum (3755 Tonawanda Creek Road), located just off the trail in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo. Costumed interpreters and tours of the buildings throughout this 35-acre historical village—including homes, a one-room schoolhouse, and working blacksmith shop—provide a tangible sense of 19th-century life here.
Plan to spend some time in Lockport as well. To accommodate the 600-foot elevation change from one end of the canal to the other, dozens of locks were built along the waterway. In the city’s famous “flight of five,” trail users have the unique opportunity to see one of the few remaining original locks alongside a modern working lock.
Another unforgettable sight is watching one of the lift bridges rise and lower to accommodate the passage of a boat. Many of these low bridges can be found in the central part of the trail in the Rochester area. The bridges, which are just a few feet above the water, required passengers to duck as memorialized in the popular folksong, “Low Bridge, Everybody Down,” written in 1905.
On the south side of Rochester, the route passes another of the trail’s gems: Genesee Valley Park. The 800-acre park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who helped create New York City’s Central Park. Recreational opportunities abound here, including golf, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, cross-country skiing, picnicking, softball, and soccer.
From Port Byron to the outskirts of Syracuse, the trail stretches about 20 miles. As the trail approaches Syracuse from the west, the Camillus Erie Canal Park is a notable attraction. The park includes the stunning Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Sims Store, a replica of a mid-19th-century store that serves as a museum and gift shop. Those interested in learning more of the corridor’s history should also explore the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse.
Where the trail continues east of the city, the trail soon comes to Green Lakes State Park. The park, sprawling nearly 2,000 acres, makes for a pleasant excursion. It's centered around two beautiful blue-green lakes that are open for swimming and boating, and there are hiking and camping opportunities in the park’s lush forests.
This eastern section of the trail—spanning more than 50 miles through Chittenango (hometown of Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum), Oneida, Rome, and Utica—is one of its most picturesque with the Adirondacks to the north and the Catskills to the south. In the early 1800s, a critical component of the Erie Canal was its passage through Mohawk Valley, a natural break in the mountains that separated the busy Eastern Seaboard with the country’s developing interior. A popular stop here is Fort Stanwix, where 'll find American Revolution-era costumed guides who provide a glimpse of life in the 18th century.
A gap of about 5 miles lies between Utica and the final leg of the trail, which picks up in Ilion and Herkimer. Between Little Falls and Albany, this section of the trail—also known as the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway or Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail—stretches 39 miles and is paved with some on-road connections.
In Schenectady, there is the tree-lined Stockade Historic District with restored 17th- and 18th-century homes and churches along Union Street. Continuing east, the trail goes through the town of Colonie, which offers a pleasantly wooded interlude, with undulating lowlands and small hillsides as it runs along the Mohawk River. The Canalway Trail leaves the Mohawk Valley in Cohoes and turns south into the Hudson Valley. As the trail approaches its end in Albany, it runs through woodlands along the Hudson River and connects with the city’s popular Corning Riverfront Park. Continue south through the Corning Riverfront Park and use the bike and pedestrian overpass to visit downtown Albany, including the State Capitol building.
In Canastota, the trail connects to the Lenox Rail Trail.
In Rome, the trail intersects the Mohawk River Trail.
The Erie Canalway Trail follows the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825. At the time of the canal's construction, railroads were just coming into vogue. The Mohawk and Hudson, New York’s first railroad, opened in 1831 and ran from Albany to Schenectady. At first, the railroads were seen as competition for the precious canal, so the state’s lawmakers only permitted trains to carry freight during the winter when the canal was closed. But this restriction was soon lifted and, by the late 1800s, trains had clearly won the battle of transportation supremacy. Today, about a third of the Erie Canalway Trail (more than 100 miles) is built on these former railways, largely consisting of the West Shore Line on the trail’s eastern end.
The Erie Canalway Trail runs between Erie St. (Buffalo) and Corning Riverfront Park at Quay St. (Albany).
Additional parking is available at:
There are numerous parking options along this trail, please see TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.