Canalway Trail Times, Issue 49

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Canalway T R A I L Winter 2018-19

T I M E S Issue #49

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

Another great year for trails 2018 saw work continue across the state as the historic Empire State Trail comes to fruition as the nation’s longest state trail network Gaps continue to close on the Erie Canalway Trail (ECT), as projects near Lockport and Amsterdam added additional off-road trail miles, with many more in the works. These include perhaps the peskiest of all trail gaps, 13 miles through Syracuse between Camillus and DeWitt, but a mix of off-road and on-road facilities will bring added comfort for cyclists. Renderings of the trail to be completed along busy Erie Boulevard released in 2018 provided a hint of the significant improvements to come. Meanwhile, planning efforts for the Champlain Canalway Trail are well underway, with a revised Champlain Action Plan due out in early 2019 and several construction projects slated to begin later in the year. In the Hudson Valley, the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail and Maybrook Trailway will close major gaps in the Hudson River

A new section of trail being built near Lockport will result in an uninterrupted 135-mile stretch of off-road trail

Valley Greenway - and get us closer to the completed 750-mile Empire State Trail linking Buffalo with Albany and New York City with Canada. Two additional 2018 developments bode well for the Canalway Trail and the larger Empire State Trail. The announcement of a connection from Tonawanda on the ECT to Niagara Falls as part of the Empire State Trail project provides another exciting dimension to the trail. Moreover, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation announced a large investment of funding for this project and other western New York trails connections. This marks the first major private investment that builds on the landmark state funding. If 2018 is any indicator, get ready for more trail openings and further trail development across New York in 2019. And pump up those tires for 2020! Newly constructed trail east of Herkimer will run right along the banks of the Mohawk River


We can’t wait for all of the great events coming in 2019 1. 2019 Canal Clean Sweep, April 26-28, 2019

4. Champlain Canalway Tour - August 2019

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

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

2. International Trails Symposium Syracuse, April 28-May 1, 2019 Trail leaders from across North America and the world will gather in Syracuse for the 24th International Trails Symposium and Training Institute. Join fellow trail enthusiasts and advocates for a wide range of educational sessions and nationally and internationally prominent presenters. Registration is open at

3. Cycle the Erie Canal - 21st Annual Cross-state Ride - July 7-14, 2019 More than 650 cyclists will leave their cars behind in Buffalo on July 7 to pedal along the historic Erie Canalway Trail to Albany as part of the 21st annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour. This 400-mile, fully-supported eight-day tour highlights the small town charm, history, and culture along the Erie Canalway Trail. Two- and four-day options are also available. Registration and more information are available at

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Canalway Trail Times

5. Tour the Towpath - September 2019 The fourth 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. One or Two day options available. Visit to learn more.

6. Bicyclists Bring Business - September 2019 PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation bring a traveling 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 at

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

Bicyclists Bringing Business across New York State New York’s statewide bike-friendly certification is bringing cyclists to local businesses Bike Friendly New York (BFNY) is a business certification program that recognizes businesses that provide special accommodations for bicyclists. It is a collaborative effort between PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation that so far has recognized over 90 bike-friendly businesses across the state. It’s not surprising that businesses along well-traveled cycling routes, like the Erie Canalway Trail, would want to cater to cyclists. The BFNY program promotes easy and inexpensive ways businesses can better serve cyclists. There are many ways businesses can accommodate their two-wheeled visitors, such as having basic repair kits available or having public charging stations. Certified businesses are included on PTNY’s online map found at and on a list shipped with all Cycling the Erie Canal guidebooks. The BFNY program is proud to certify a diverse array of bike friendly businesses, including breweries, hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, libraries, and gift shops.

HOW TO GET CERTIFIED 1 Review program requirements at 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 5 Receive your certification packet, and put up your BFNY decal! 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.

Here are a few of our favorite BFNY businesses Uncle G’s Ice Cream, Lockport, NY Offers access to local bicycling maps and bike-related goods for sale. Who doesn’t love a good ice cream cone, too?

The Holiday Inn Express, Albany, NY Not only do they have very cozy beds and free breakfast but they also have complimentary shuttles to local bike shops.

Arkell Museum & Canajoharie Library, Canajoharie, NY A great resource to learn about New York history, check out some beautiful artwork (and it has public restrooms and access to computers)

Canalway Trail Times

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Across the state, trail adopters put in countless hours beautifying their local stretch of trail, helping to make the Canalway Trail a uniquely great asset

Wherever you find yourself on the Canalway Trail, volunteers are ready to lend a hand Across the state, volunteers, including Clean Sweepers, Trail Adopters, and Ambassadors, made an impact in 2018 For the 13th year in a row, the Canal Clean Sweep served as the symbolic kick-off for the boating and cycling season. The 110 cleanup events across the state saw more than 2,000 volunteers work on a day of spring cleaning throughout the Canal corridor. More than 60 Adopt-a-Trail volunteer groups across the Erie, Champlain and Oswego Canalway Trails provided hundreds of hours of volunteer maintenance and TLC. Not only did trail adopters remove trash and debris from the trail, but they also served as the eyes and ears of the trail, reporting issues such as downed trees and limbs, lights that have gone dark, graffiti, and vandalism. Some groups have even installed flower beds to spruce up the trailheads along their section of the trail! Canalside communities continue their well-deserved welcoming reputation, thanks in large part to the hard work of our great volunteer Trail Ambassadors across the canal corridor. Trail ambassadors reached new heights in 2018, as new members joined existing ambassadors across the state. Ambassadors ride thousands of miles on the trail each year - one ambassador rode 26,500 miles this year alone, enough to effectively have ridden around the globe! Ambassadors bring local knowledge and are always eager to share their passion with visitors to the trail. Trail ambassadors regularly share great stories and great pictures of the canal and cyclists out enjoying the Canalway Trail. In the Capital Region, eagle-eyed ambassadors continued to provide detailed maintenance reports and filled us in on everyone they met and all the great work they do along the trail.

Clean Sweep team from Girl Scout Troop 60802 in Pittsford

Ambassador Report for August 20 Encountered several City of Schenectady pickup trucks working to clear a large tree...Caught up with a westbound fully loaded touring cyclist and found that he started in Portland, Maine and was headed to Utah. Answered his questions about distance to Amsterdam and gave him some landmarks to watch for...I then rode west to between Rotterdam Junction and Pattersonville and stopped to chat with a couple of cyclists.

Canalway Trail Times

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End-to-End on the Erie Canalway Trail: Why do you ride? “Ever since I heard about the Canalway from a colleague I was hooked on the idea of cycling it end to end. I did go primarily for the challenge of it, but I couldn’t help but stop and smell the flowers along the way.” Peter from Buffalo, NY

863 registered in 2018 – an 18% increase from 2017

“We booked the tour to get to know a part of the US which is largely unknown in Europe. We are fit enough to cycle the complete distance in one go so we faced the challenge and simply did it!” Gisela from Pforzheim, Germany

215 completed the trail on a self-supported trip New End-to-Enders in 2018 from Canada, Germany, Norway, and 29 U.S. States

“I rode the trail on to my 50th High School class reunion in Averill Park, NY. I wanted to get myself back in shape after suffering 3 slipped discs in my neck in January.” Mike from Black Hawk, CO

“We chose the Erie Canal because of its historical value. We were interested in some of the engineering feats along the canal. Then as we planned our trip we read several books on it.” Jim from Orlando, FL

“This seemed like a great cycling adventure. Turns out it was.” Charles from Falls Church, VA

Register your End-to-Ender journey at Page 5

Canalway Trail Times

New funding and resources for the Canalway Water Trail cap off exciting 2018 A great year for the New York State Canalway Water Trail was capped in December by the announcement of funding for two exciting new projects, and more great things are expected for the Water Trail in 2019! A grant from the NYS Canal Corporation will enable the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (ECNHC) to install signs with a custom water trail logo along the entire Canal System that identify water trail access points, facilities, places of interest, and canal infrastructure. A second grant, from the NYS Department of State to Montgomery County, will facilitate collaboration with local communities for recreational opportunities along the Mohawk River by installing long- and short-term kayak storage facilities and an ADA accessible floating launch. The project will also include the development of a Ticket to Paddle Program, Water Trail Ambassadors Program and a Water Trail Signage Plan for Montgomery County in conjunction with ECNHC. In Spring 2019, the ECNHC staff and consultants will release a comprehensive mile-by-mile guidebook and navigational map set that includes paddler-friendly facilities, access points, and places of interest along the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca and Oswego Canals. Set to be released in Spring 2019, the guidebook and maps will be an indispensable resource for paddlers looking to enjoy the waterway for a few hours, weekend getaways, or for end-to-end journeys. Interested paddlers can find information online now at to start planning a paddling adventure in 2019. To join the NYS Canalway Water Trail paddling Facebook group for inside scoops on paddling the canals see

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Canalway Trail Times

Progress Continues on Closing the Gaps of the Champlain Canalway Trail The 62-mile Champlain Canalway Trail is rapidly developing, and much of the recent momentum can be attributed to the funding and attention brought by the Empire State Trail project. The Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group (CCTWG), a community collaborative effort, has been working to complete and promote the Champlain Canalway Trail from Waterford to Whitehall as an attractive and continuous route. In May, the CCTWG convened their annual gathering of local town supervisors and mayors to discuss progress made on the trail and plans for moving ahead. Updates on the various stretches of the trail being completed were shared with the roughly 40 local leaders and volunteers in attendance. The annual Champlain Canalway Trail Bicycle Ride was held on August 19. In late September, the CCTWG presented at the annual Bicyclists Bring Business roundtable, held in 2018 in Waterford at the southern end of the Champlain Trail. The CCTWG will release a revised Champlain Canalway Trail Action Plan in early 2019. The action plan will include a profile of the sections of trail in each town along the route, highlighting the routing of the Empire State Trail, access points, public amenities, and events. The Action Plan will even look at existing and proposed connector trails that will help the Champlain Trail link with neighboring communities and larger trail networks across the region. A completed Champlain Canalway Trail will be a great resource for the state and the region – and we can’t wait for it to be done!

Attendees at the Annual Supervisors/Mayors Meeting hear updates on plans to complete the CCT

Annual usage at 2018 Canalway Trail Count Locations

Hundreds of Thousands of Visits to Canalway Trail System in 2018 Do you love the Canalway Trail system? Do you take every opportunity to visit your favorite trail section? Well, trail counts taken this year show that you’re not alone! Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and others from near and far, biked, hiked, jogged, walked, skated, and skied on the statewide system. For more than a decade, Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation have conducted usage counts on the Canalway Trail system. The count protocol has evolved over that time, starting from volunteers with clipboards to today’s approach using automated heat-sensing counters. The last few years have seen a shift in Canalway Trail counts, with automated counters installed to monitor trail usage for an entire year at a given location. This practice has produced more and better data. The 13th annual trail counts show that the Canalway Trail continues to draw hundreds of thousands of users. In 2018, automated electronic counters recorded trail use data at five locations. In addition, manual counts (that’s right, volunteers who are willing to take up the clipboard can still do a count!) occurred in Colonie, Lockport, and Pendleton. Counts help planners and municipal leaders as they look for funding for connector trails. They also provide a preview to trail use that can be expected on the soon-to-be complete Empire State Trail. A full analysis of each count location is available in the 2018 Who’s on the Trail report available at

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Canalway Trail Times


Annual Usage

Erie Canal Park/Sims Store Museum, Camillus


Perinton Park, Fairport


East Henrietta Road, Rochester


Corning Preserve, Albany


Lockport / Robinson Road, Pendleton


Colonie Town Park, Colonie


Towpath Park, Spencerport


Haviland Cove Park, Glens Falls



29 Elk Street Albany, New York 12207

Canalway T R A I L Winter 2018-19

T I M E S Issue #49

Hit the Trail in Grand Style on the 21st Annual Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour – July 7-14, 2019 As has become summer tradition, Parks & Trails New York wants to share great cycling, wonderful scenery, and the history of the Erie Canal with you through the fully supported Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour. PTNY expects another great group, exceeding 2018’s mark of more than 700 cyclists from three continents making the cross-state trek. From the dewy Sunday morning start in Buffalo to the rocking finish line in Albany one week later, you’ll experience the people, history, and charm that make the Erie Canalway special. Take in 200-year-old aqueducts, discover locks and other historic Canal infrastructure, and stop in dozens of charming Canal communities. Quirky trailside attractions and an enhanced schedule of off-the-bike activities make Cycle the Erie Canal a must-do trip.

Need more convincing? Pre-and post-tour shuttles from Albany to Buffalo: less driving and no-stress transportation Cycle the Erie Canal jersey: a must-have souvenir Four-day and weekend options: same great cycling, tailored to your busy schedule 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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