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  1. #1
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    mini-Erie Canal tour -starting from Albany, NY, any experience?

    I tried searching the boards, but I didn't see an specific info about the Albany area....

    I'm trying to work out a 3-4 day mini-tour. Since it looks like I can catch a train from Boston to Albany, I thought about cycling along the Erie canal. It would mean I could cycle around 70-90 miles out of Albany and back.

    I'd be very interested to hear from people who have already done it. Specifically:

    1. Is it easy to get to the canal from the train station?
    2. Is the scenery nice once you get out of Albany? Or is it just extended industrial areas? (Hard to tell from maps.google.) Or am I really better trying to go somewhere else?
    3. Has anyone got any recommendations for campsites or any other resources? (Any recommended routes off the canal would be terrific too.)

    thanks!

  2. #2
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    What about this by Velonomad:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/olderiecanal

  3. #3
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Thanks but that didn't help too much -but then when I plugged "Albany" into the search I get this:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...ny&context=all

    so thanks, it helped in the end!



    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1

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    Hi Nigeyy,

    I'm originally from New York State and have driven along the New York State Thruway, which goes along the Erie Canal, many times. I'm sorry to say that I can't really think of a place I would hate to tour more than that.

    The terrain is flat and boring. It would be blazing hot in the summer. I can't recall anything at all of interest. It just goes on and on in a straight line forever.

    If you really want to tour New York State, you might look at Lewis County. This is an area of beautiful farms in the Black River valley---see for example New Bremen. There are a couple of beautiful rivers---see the Independence River around Greig and the Black River in Beaver Falls. There's an interesting campground at Whetstone Gulf. The central hub of this area would be Lowville.

    If transportation to your starting place is an issue, how about taking the train to Portsmouth, NH and riding up the coast into Maine? Or the bus to NH to tour the lakes region of New Hampshire. The latter would only cost you about $35. Boston to Portland, ME, is also $35. I think Maine and NH would be much better distinations than the Eerie canal. Matter of fact you can go to lots of fun places with the Concord Trailways bus. http://www.concordtrailways.com/conc...ares.htm#Maine

  5. #5
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    I have a few books on cycling the Erie Canal, and I've listed some more links below. Cycling along the canal towpath would be quite different from driving along the highway - see for yourself.

    One dream of mine is to take a folding bike on Amtrak from New York City to Albany, then cycle out and back from there. Just a matter of time...

    http://www.ptny.org/canaltour/

    http://www.cyclotour.com/prod02.htm

    http://www.nycanal.com/recreation/nycanalrec.html

    http://www.classicadventures.com/pag...rie_canal.html

    http://www.poplarware.com/biketrails...e-heritage-ny/

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Oh no... this is exactly what I was fearing..... I wondered about the suitability of this area. Having said that and noting Tentschler's point, since you were on the thruway, could it be the bike trail is nicer? Also I know Holland's flat, but it's still nice to cycle in.

    Hmmmm got me second guessing now.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigeyy
    Oh no... this is exactly what I was fearing..... I wondered about the suitability of this area. Having said that and noting Tentschler's point, since you were on the thruway, could it be the bike trail is nicer? Also I know Holland's flat, but it's still nice to cycle in.

    Hmmmm got me second guessing now.
    I stand corrected somewhat by Trent Schler, who is obviously more knowledgeable about the bike trail than I am.

    Still, looking at the map of New York State, I feel there are much better places to bike in New York, like the Adirondacks. And I would much rather be somewhere like the Maine coast, where the scenery is truly world class. I am very big on water, and central New York doesn't have much of that, other than the Mowhawk River, which used to be very polluted (don't know if it still is). I like to be able to swim after a hot day of biking.

    The websites about the Erie Canal route seem to emphasize history. Is that an interest of yours?

    Do be mindful of the summer heat---it can get brutal in New York State in the summer.

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    My 11 year old son and I are doing the canal trail from Buffalo to Albany in July. Over the years I have cycled many parts of it. Some sections have been around for years while other parts are opening all the time to fill in the gaps. It's flat sure, but it is nothing like driving the New York State Thruway! This is the primary artery that helpped to settle the "West" in the early and mid 1800's. It's overflowing with history!

    I haven't ridden the Albany parts in years, but for the most part the trail starts very close to the train station. The train station is across the river from Albany. From the train station it is basicly south west to the Rt. 20 bridge. It might be a full mile, but I doubt it. Once over the bridge the trail starts near the Hudson River about a mile north of the bridge. I suggest you call one of the bike shops in the area such as the Down Tube to get better directions.

    The trails heads north and back onto side streets after a few miles where you will need further directions to get to the Erie Canal section. A few good site for further information are:
    http://www.nyscanals.gov/maps/index.html
    http://www.ptny.org/canaltour/
    http://www.nycanaltimes.com/

    The history along the canals is amazing and the views are equally amazing. I've cycled in most of the US plus parts of Canada and the canal can hold it's own. It's a flatish ride steaped in history. Be sure to take a break to sit, close your eyes and think about everything that happened right in front of where you are more that 150 years ago.

    Wells

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    We did the Erie Canal tour last summer and enjoyed it. We though it's a very well run tour. We enjoyed the scenery and history along the canal. We parked at the train station, took a chartered bus to Buffalo, and then biked back.

    For specifics on town services and camping, get the book from the NY Parks and Trails.

  10. #10
    Senior Member GreenAnvil's Avatar
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    Hi!

    I just moved to Colorado Springs from Penfield, NY. I'm very familiar with the canal path.

    I wouldn't bike in the Summer (it's too hot). Early fall the temperatures are more bearable and depending on conditions you might get beautiful fall colors along the way. Do stop by the Montezuma wildlife preserve to catch migrating birds as they head south before winter. Other than that, yeah... it's got history (if you're really into that) and it's flat.

    An alternative is to branch out and do a tour of the Finger Lakes area for a few days and then come back and continue on the canal path. I think you'd enjoy that much more.

    GreenAnvil

  11. #11
    Senior Member CyKKlist's Avatar
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    This is a great example of context being important. For a self-supported touring cyclist who's not overly interested in American 19th century history, this is probably not the most memorable few days' ride in the Eastern United States.

    However, since I love historical sites and have three teenage boys to watch over, Cycling the Erie Canal (CTEC) tour is definitely on my list for this coming July. I would prefer to do something a bit moreadventurous, but I know this tour will satisfy the troops, especially if we stop frequently for ice cream, baseball catches and frisbee tosses.

    Ken
    Latest bike tour journal now posted -- PALM ride across Michigan!
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/palm2009

    Also -- NC Courthouse Tour, using Amtrak to Charlotte
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/nccourthousetour

    Trek 520 for commuting, touring, family rides and smiling at life.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigeyy View Post
    Oh no... this is exactly what I was fearing..... I wondered about the suitability of this area. Having said that and noting Tentschler's point, since you were on the thruway, could it be the bike trail is nicer? Also I know Holland's flat, but it's still nice to cycle in.

    Hmmmm got me second guessing now.
    The bad news is you'll have to sing the song as you ride.

    I've got a mule, her name is Sal
    Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal...


    Speedo

  13. #13
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Also, I wouldn't be overly put off by the weather. We did a tour in the Finger Lakes last summer. First week of August. One day was very hot, otherwise it was okay.

    I checked out the weather for that particular week over previous years. It was all over the map.

    Speedo

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    My son and I completed the Erie Canal ride in July 07. It was a great ride with plenty to keep a 12 year old interested. Historically it was interesting and close to 100 miles of it was on roads.

    Weatherwise it wasn't hot. Sure we had rain, but hey it's a bicycle tour! Those that say it is not an interesting ride, well it may not be an interesting ride for some with plenty of flat stretches, but for others it is a great ride.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    I think the trick to an Erie Canal tour would be to plan on diverting away from the canal for the boring bits. If you plan your route I imagine that you can see the more interesting canal relics, like locks, dry docks, aqueducts, while avoiding mile after mile of stagnant green water filled with goose poop. It seemed to me that there was plenty of interesting scenery to be had in the farmland and small towns near the canal.

    You still have to sing the song though...

    Speedo

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    You can get a New York State Bike Route map of the Erie Canal route here:
    https://www.nysdot.gov/portal/page/p...-bureau/biking
    You want state bike route map 5.

    Also, check with the New York Bicycle Coalition ( www.nybc.net ) --there's a lady on their board named Claire who would probably be a good information source. Or the New York Cooperative Extension Service at Cornell, (www.bike.cornell.edu) would likely be a good resource. Finally, Parks and Trails NY does a tour along this route every year ( http://www.ptny.org/ ).

    If that doesn't help you, I don't know what would!

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