Canalway Trail Times: Issue #45 Winter 2017-18

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Canalway T R A I L Winter 2017-18

T I M E S Issue #45

The Canalway Trail offers recreational opportunities amidst the breathtaking scenery of Upstate New York

What a year for trails! 2017 was a year of milestones, with the Erie Canal Bicentennial and funding to complete the Erie and Champlain Canalway Trails as part of the Empire State Trail topping the list Last winter, Governor Andrew Cuomo included landmark trails funding in the budget: $200M to build the nation’s longest state trail network. The Empire State Trail will Close the Gaps in the Erie and Champlain Canalway Trails, and finish the Hudson River Valley Greenway. The result will be a 750-mile mega trail that connects Buffalo to Albany, and New York City to Canada. One year later, and trail fans across New York are still over the moon! Spurred by this enthusiasm, many have participated in local and regional trail planning processes. Their efforts, along with that of planners, agency officials, and community leaders across the system, has resulted in steady progress made towards the Empire State Trail’s ambitious 2020 completion date.

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Another big year for the Champlain Canalway Trail 2017 brought funding for further development of the Waterford to Whitehall trail, as well as recognition of collaborative planning by communities along the route In September, New York State announced that $12 million of the Empire State Trail construction fund will go towards building 22 miles of multi-use trail and on-road enhancements along the 61-mile Champlain Canalway Trail (CCT) between Waterford and Whitehall. This funding will help with: Completion of the CCT from Waterford through Mechanicville, resulting in a continuous trail segment of 7+ miles and connecting to the Erie Canalway Trail at Peebles Island State Park. Resolving one of the more challenging connections in Kingsbury by bridging the original Champlain Canal and a creek, then tunneling under busy Rt. 196 to create a 20-mile trail link between Fort Edward and Fort Ann. The projects will be completed by 2020. The CCT is part of the 750-mile Empire State Trail and serves as approximately one-third of the route between Albany and the Canadian border.

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Canalway Trail Times

The CCT received another boost when the Capital District Regional Planning Commission (CDRPC) awarded the Working Group the 2017 Erastus Corning, 2nd Achievement Award for Intermunicipal Cooperation. CDRPC credited the Working Group with advancing a vision of a connected trail in the Champlain Canal Corridor during the last five years, and doing so through intermunicipal cooperation and collaborative planning.

Wait, there’s more! December’s REDC funding announcements provided a holiday gift for the CCT. Washington County, in partnership with the Towns of Fort Ann and Whitehall, was awarded $430K to design improvements to the northern portion of the Champlain Canalway Trail. With all the great developments on the CCT, it is no wonder that the 6th annual Champlain Canalway Tour, held on August 20, was such a great success. The background photo shows tour riders crossing the historic Dix Bridge into Washington County for the first time since the bridge was renovated.

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SAVE THE DATES The second year of the Erie Canal Bicentennial is full of great events 2018 Canal Clean Sweep - April 20-22, 2018 Join PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation for New York State’s largest Earth Day celebration! For more information and to register your event, visit, or email

Bike Your Park Day - September 29, 2018

Cycle the Erie Canal - 20th Anniversary Ride - July 8-15, 2018 Join PTNY in celebrating two decades of the Cycle the Erie Canal Tour. The summer classic is a 400-mile, fully-supported eight-day tour that highlights the small town charm, history, and culture along the Erie Canalway Trail. Two- and four-day options also available. Registration and more information available at

Champlain Canalway Tour - August 2018

Bicyclists Bring Business - September 2018 PTNY brings its travelling workshop on trail-based tourism and economic development to one Canalway Trail community each fall, with an evening roundtable and a community bike-a-round the following day. Learn more about hosting or participating in B3 at 2017 B3 in Utica

Explore the Erie Canalway Trail and celebrate National Public Lands Day with PTNY as part of Bike Your Park Day. Part of a national day of cycling events sponsored by the Adventure Cycling Association, the fall ride highlights connections between cycling routes and parks. Register for PTNY’s ride at, or find more information at

Join the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group for a fully-supported ride along the Champlain Canalway and Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trails. Like the trail itself, the Tour gets bigger each year, with more riders and new historic sites added to the list of stops. The option to take the return leg of the tour via a paddle-wheeler is not to be missed! Visit for more information Tour the Towpath - September 2018 The 4th annual Tour the Towpath promises to be a great event for cyclists of all ages. The supported ride covers 36 miles of Old Erie Canal State Historic Park, between Rome and DeWitt. Join over 100 riders in experiencing all the canal has to offer. 1- or 2-day options available. Visit to learn more.

2017 Tour the Towpath

Canalway Trail Times

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Trail count underway at Lions Park in Niskayuna

The Canalway Trail remains a popular place to bike, walk, and jog The results from Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation’s 13th annual trail counts demonstrate that the Canalway Trail continues to draw hundreds of thousands of users. In 2017, six locations were counted. Usage at three locations along the Erie Canalway Trail exceeded 100,000: Lions Park in Niskayuna, Cedar Bay Park in DeWitt, and Erie Canal Park in Camillus. The remaining three locations, located along the Erie Canalway and Feeder Canal Trails, averaged more than 1,000 visits per week according to estimates based on data recorded over the past year. In addition to the six locations where electronic counters continuously measured usage, volunteers collected data at three locations near the Erie Canal Park in Camillus to help demonstrate the types of users who frequent the trail. Their surveys revealed that trail users overwhelmingly visit the trail to jog and run, though this finding can vary by location.

Annual usage at 2017 Canalway Trail Count Locations Location

Annual Usage

Lions Park, Niskayuna


Cedar Bay Park, DeWitt


Sims Store Museum, Camillus


Haviland Cove Park, Glens Falls


Towpath Park, Spencerport


Lockport / Robinson Road, Pendleton


*Indicates estimate based on partial year data

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This year’s counts not only confirm anecdotal perceptions of the Canalway Trail’s popularity, but they are also helpful to planners and municipal leaders when they need to justify seeking funding for expansions and enhancements of existing trails. A full analysis of each location is available in the 2017 Who’s on the Trail report accessible at

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Retired missionaries from Utah and Texas assist the LDS Temple Missionaries AAT group in preparing the Palmyra trail section for the annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour

Many Hands on the Canalway Trail 2017 was a great year for Canalway Trail volunteerism with Clean Sweepers, Trail Adopters and Ambassadors making a difference on their local trail sections and showing off the Canalway Trail to visitors

Clean Sweep team from Barton & Loguidice engineering

The 2017 Clean Sweep was the 12th edition of the spring cleaning, and also served as a symbolic kick-off for the system’s Canal Bicentennial events. All told, over 2,000 volunteers participated in 105 cleanup events across the State. The Adopt-a-Trail program has enlisted more than 60 volunteer groups across 120 miles of the Erie, Champlain, and Oswego Canalway Trails, providing hundreds of hours of volunteer maintenance and TLC. These groups not only remove trash and debris from the trail, but they are also the eyes and ears of the corridor, reporting lights that have gone dark, graffiti, and vandalism. One group reported that in addition to the litter they typically collect from the trail, they pulled tires, a TV, and a couch from the Erie Canal! The welcoming reputation of Canalside communities receives a major boost thanks to the hard work of volunteers participating in the Adopt-a-Trail program. Trail Ambassadors hit the trail like never before in 2017. New members in Camillus and in the Capital District joined 25 existing Ambassadors, logging thousands of miles on the trail. Ambassadors bring local knowledge, and are always eager to share their passion with visitors to the trail. Highlights include spontaneous tours of Genesee River Park by Rochester Ambassador Dave Valvo and great photos of End-to-Enders by Old Erie Canal Ambassador Dave Kellogg. In the Capital Region, eagle-eyed Ambassadors provide detailed maintenance reports, wildlife spotting, and relayed fun stories from long-distance cyclists (see inset).

Sample Ambassador Report (May 4) They milled and patched the bad spots between Lock 8 and the 890 bridge ... I talked with a group of three fully-loaded cyclists heading eastbound... I also stopped and talked to a westbound family of four riding tandem touring bikes near Historic Lock 23. They started in Massachusetts, and hope to make California in four months ‌ They commented on what great shape the trail was in and how much they were enjoying their journey so far!

Wherever you find yourself on the Canalway Trail, volunteers are ready to lend a hand! Canalway Trail Times

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End-to-End on the Erie Canalway Trail: Why do you ride? I love seeing all of the natural beauty and small towns, as well as the physical challenge of crossing NYS by bicycle! — Lynette Vayo, Johnson City, New York

732 registered in 2017- a 15% increase from 2016!

I decided to become an End-to-Ender when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April. I thought it would be a great way to raise money and stand (or bike) in solidarity with my dad. — Gavin Jenkins, Rochester, New York

78 completed the trail on a self-supported trip Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, 35 U.S. States and D.C. represented

I wanted a personal challenge - something new, but also accessible, meaningful and beautiful. The more miles I did, the more I realized how you can do anything you set your mind to! I finished in four days, loved it, and would do it again.

Cycling the length of the Erie Canal was on a friend’s bucket list, and I agreed to come. My favorite part was the friendliness of the people along the trail. — John McManus, St. Petersburg, Florida

— Dan Thompson, Jamesville, New York

We like the physical challenge, the people we meet along the way, learning about history, and stops in cafés! Many thanks for an enjoyable adventure! — Susan Sayers, Alberta, Canada

The safety of riding on a trail was the main reason we chose this ride. It’s a good challenge with a good combination of trail and roads. — Mauricio Sanmartin, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Register your End-to-Ender journey at! Page 6

Canalway Trail Times

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Bike Friendly New York launch at the Stockade Inn in Schenectady

Going the Extra Mile New York’s first bike-friendly certification aims to connect cyclists with businesses that cater to their needs In May, PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation launched Bike Friendly New York (BFNY), a business certification program that recognizes businesses that provide special accommodations for bicyclists. Bicycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in the U.S., with an increasing number of people seeking out new places to ride and take cycling vacations. So, it’s not surprising that businesses along well-travelled cycling routes, like the Erie Canalway Trail, would want to cater to two-wheeled visitors. The BFNY program educates businesses on straightforward and inexpensive ways they can better serve cyclists. An online

HOW TO GET CERTIFIED 1 Review program requirements at

application makes it easy to apply for certification. Once certified, businesses are included on a map on and on a list of certified businesses shipped with all Cycling the Erie Canal guidebooks – so cyclists planning their next outing can easily find them. Many participants are already aware of local trails and cycling routes; these businesses generally need only take small steps - like having basic repair tools available - to cater to cyclists. Other businesses use the program to increase their familiarity with local cycling routes. Above the basic requirements, participating businesses can choose from a list of additional amenities that they commit to offering.

5 Receive your certification packet, and put up your BFNY decal!

Nearly 50 businesses have received BFNY certification. These include quintessential trailside businesses that come to mind when you think of a day on the trail - restaurants and bars, lodging, campgrounds, and trailside gift shops. However, BFNY has also found an audience with some “non-traditional” partners, including a town park, numerous museums, and two vision centers.

There is no cost to participate in the BFNY program, and certification is good for three years. Eligible businesses across New York may apply and be certified.

With businesses across the State welcoming cyclists, and the Empire State Trail adding off-road connections, New York has never been more bike friendly.

2 Fulfill required criteria and bike friendly amenities or services for your business category 3 Complete the online application 4 PTNY will review your certification

Canalway Trail Times is made possible by financial support from the New York State Canal Corporation. Canalway Trail Times

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29 Elk Street Albany, New York 12207

Get ready for the 20th Annual Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour – July 8-15, 2018 Each summer, Parks & Trails New York offers great cycling, wonderful scenery, and the history of the Erie Canal through the fully-supported Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour. The 2017 tour brought the largest group of riders to the Erie Canalway Trail, with more than 650 cyclists from 35 states and DC, Canada, Demark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom riding between Buffalo and Albany. The 2018 Cycle the Erie Canal tour will mark the 20th anniversary of this annual event, one of the signature events of the Erie Canal’s Bicentennial Celebration. Riders will leave Buffalo on July 8 and arrive in Albany on July 15. From the moment riders begin in Buffalo to the festive finish line in Albany – and everywhere in between – they’ll experience the people, history, and charm that make the Erie Canalway Trail special. This year’s ride will take cyclists over 200-year-old aqueducts, by locks and other historic Canal infrastructure, and through dozens of charming Canal communities.

Beyond the great scenery and warm Upstate welcome for which the tour is known, recent enhancements have made the ride even better: End-of-tour shuttle from Albany to Buffalo: In addition to offering a shuttle at the beginning of the tour to Buffalo, we also offer transportation from Albany at the end of the tour for people who would prefer to park in Buffalo. Less driving means more time to discover the Erie Canal! Cycle the Erie Canal jersey: A must-have souvenir, the 2018 Cycle the Erie Canal jersey evokes the unique scenery and historic charm of the area. Four-day and weekend options: same great cycling, tailored to today’s busy schedule. Registration for the Cycle the Erie Canal tour is now open. The New York State Canal Corporation is proud to be the premier state sponsor of this event since 2000.

Visit for more information and to register.

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