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Looking for help regarding 700 miles trip

Old 06-18-24, 01:38 PM
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Looking for help regarding 700 miles trip

Hey everyone,

My buddy and I are planning to bike the Empire State Trail next week, covering around 750 miles from NYC to Toronto. We're looking for any feedback and tips from anyone who has done this trail before!

We're thinking about stealth camping along the way, but our bikes aren't really the best suited for this kind of trip. We're also trying to keep costs low, so any resources for finding affordable bikes in NYC would be really appreciated.

We're college students who just graduated, so money is tight, but our spirits are high! We've done two 100-mile trips and one 50-mile trip so far.

Thanks so much for any advice!
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Old 06-18-24, 02:03 PM
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How do you plan to get back? What sort of bicycles do you have? how do you plan to carry your gear?. I would say, that to prepare you try an overnight trip from and to your homes. How far have either of you ridden in a day? People can offer tips, but you have to be able to understand them
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Old 06-18-24, 02:14 PM
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The trail is not located in woods or wilderness, so not many appropriate places to Boondock. I would carefully research where there are camping opportunities, not a lot of state facilities - if any, I know of Verona Beach on the east end of Oneida Lake, east of Syracuse,Mo,U.S. a few small sites for trail users, not sure how to reserve. Other opportunities might all be private facilities. Your best bet might be to increase your budget and plan for cheap motels. This site details camping information, https://www.ptny.org/explore/empire-state-trail/camping
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Old 06-18-24, 03:01 PM
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Nothing like advanced planning. Do you have passports to re-enter the US? Do you have a route from Buffalo to Toronto? Do you have appropriate camping gear? Foul weather gear?

Have you looked at this site, which has information on such things as camping and indoor lodging?:

https://empiretrail.ny.gov/trip-planning
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Old 06-18-24, 03:15 PM
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https://www.warmshowers.org

I used this years ago while bike touring. Met some great people.
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Old 06-18-24, 04:10 PM
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Stop by Walmart and pick up a couple of Ozark Trail G.1 Explorer. Don't worry about planning, people along the way will be happy to look out for you. Take a dog or two if possible and musical instruments.
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Old 06-18-24, 05:42 PM
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getting back is not an issue. paneer bags, I am a seasoned backcountry traveler, but biking for first time. we biked 100 miles a day twice. I think if people offer tips I will understand . Dont worry about it.
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Old 06-18-24, 05:44 PM
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On principle, Will not be staying in the Motel. I will look into the other suggestions. TYSM
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Old 06-18-24, 05:45 PM
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Thank you. Yes , I will have a passport to re-enter.
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Old 06-18-24, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Nothing like advanced planning. Do you have passports to re-enter the US? Do you have a route from Buffalo to Toronto? Do you have appropriate camping gear? Foul weather gear?

Have you looked at this site, which has information on such things as camping and indoor lodging?:

https://empiretrail.ny.gov/trip-planning
If you don't have passports, Canadian border security won't let you by because you won't be able to cross back without. sounds like a half baked plan. Check back when it is fully baked
It isn't as if we don't want you to come here. We just want you to make sure that you can return hiome

Last edited by alcjphil; 06-18-24 at 05:52 PM.
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Old 06-18-24, 06:07 PM
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I sort of wonder why you want to go to Toronto by bike. First, you have to figure out which side of Lake Ontario you plan to ride by. The west end is all city riding, no trails. East end is has some bike paths, but you have to cross east of Kingston, maybe look for ferries. I would suggest that you look further east, Montreal. Much more cycling friendly, and no Great Lake to cross
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Old 06-18-24, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil
If you don't have passports, Canadian border security won't let you by because you won't be able to cross back without. sounds like a half baked plan. Check back when it is fully baked
It isn't as if we don't want you to come here. We just want you to make sure that you can return hiome
Interesting. I didn’t realize they won’t let you in, but it makes sense.

The last time I crossed the border by bike was in ‘09. Roseville, MT. The agent gave the GF and I the 3rd degree. She asked us what we did for livings and how long we planned to be in the country. (Five days.). Then she tried to trip us up by firing off “What’s your next day back at work?” It was only the third day of our vacation. I didn’t even know what the date was that day. Fortunately, the GF was good with things like that. Like we wanted to secretly stay in Canada for any length of time.
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Old 06-18-24, 06:47 PM
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Old 06-18-24, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
On principle, Will not be staying in the Motel. I will look into the other suggestions. TYSM
It’s a good thing you are no stranger to riding 100 miles as you may be doing that while searching for a place to camp. It’s almost peak camping season and facilities are crowded already. You should have been researching this 8-9 mos. ago and made reservations then. Thus I would not be ruling out motels as alternatives to non-existant campsites. But, best of luck and have a good trip,

Last edited by Steve B.; 06-19-24 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 06-18-24, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
On principle, Will not be staying in the Motel. I will look into the other suggestions. TYSM
so...a hotel?
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Old 06-19-24, 04:02 AM
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I toured the Erie Canal trail from Buffalo to Syracuse last spring. Very nice but:

miles and miles of no shade as you’re right along the canal. Check the forecast. May be a bit warm.
Signage is spotty. Very good in places and confusing or absent in other places. Google maps saved me several times. NYS maps and “route sheets” only good for starting camp fires.
You should be able to get good water at every NY Navigation lock. Lock keepers were very accommodating.
Rochester to Buffalo is essentially devoid of bicycle shops. Many miles off route to get help when needed. Walmart had a couple of tires.
Commercial campgrounds offered bike camping for cheap ~$25 or so. Very reasonable. The campground “near” Lockport is over 5 miles north of the trail.
Excellent blueberry pancakes at Brockport Diner. Don’t choose free camping at Lyons Fire Station. The bar next door goes on until the wee hours.

I hope this works out great for you.
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Old 06-19-24, 04:29 AM
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Don't listen to 90 percent of the "advice" you get here. For whatever reason, this site is loaded with fogies that love to discourage everyone from doing anything.

You say your bikes aren't best suited for the trip and you're trying to find affordable bikes in NYC. Do you have bikes yet or not? If not, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace would be my first choices.

You can stealth camp. One thing there are a lot of in NY state is trees and greenery to hide in. Obviously, respect the property and leave no trace you were there. Be prepared for bugs.

Warmshowers is another option that can help keep costs down.

Go for it and have fun!
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Old 06-19-24, 04:54 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv
Stop by Walmart and pick up a couple of Ozark Trail G.1 Explorer. Don't worry about planning, people along the way will be happy to look out for you. Take a dog or two if possible and musical instruments.
That may be tough to beat at $248:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ozark-Tra...sex/3405271473

You may be able to do better looking for a used bike on FB marketplace and Craigslist. You could get a bike for less where I live which is a mid sized city but NYC used prices tend to be high. Your best bets on an inexpensive tour worthy bike will be a vintage mountain bike (one with a rigid fork) or a vintage hybrid. Either type of bicycle will have fat enough tires for some rough stuff and plenty of gearing. You will need to factor in the cost of new tires (it's unlikely that a used bike will have tires you can trust on a longish trip like this) and you will likely need to do some basic maintenance. A bike co-op can help you do the maintenance. Sounds like fun.

No idea what you are doing for bags but a used bike with a rear rack is a plus or you could strap stuff sacks to the bike. There are plenty of videos out there of people who do this inexpensively and creatively.

Last edited by bikemig; 06-19-24 at 05:06 AM.
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Old 06-19-24, 07:30 AM
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maybe stop making assumptions? Lmao. I clearly stated above that I will have a passport. and then why are you posting and wasting my time?
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Old 06-19-24, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by NYC19
maybe stop making assumptions? Lmao. I clearly stated above that I will have a passport. and then why are you posting and wasting my time?
Post #10 was made a scant 4 minutes after your post #9 about having a passport. I think you should consider the possibility that #10 was being drafted when you made post #9. Just a suggestion.
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Old 06-20-24, 03:48 PM
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What's with all this talk about needing a passport in order to be let back into the US??? Forget about the question of coming back, because without a passport you wouldn't be able to enter Canada in the first place. It's a foreign country. They're not going to let you in if you don't have a passport. The days of crossing back and forth with just a driver's license are long gone, thanks to the 9/11 attacks.

There are plenty of wild camping spots on the Empire State trail, even in the New York City suburbs. Just throw yourself in any bush at dusk. Leave early the next morning. Where do you think the thousands of homeless in NYC sleep? Nobody will notice you in your bush at night, let alone care. This part of the trail is my main weekend leisure riding area. It's New York City, not up tight elderly white folk Florida. Do whatever you want, just don't bother anybody, don't make yourself noticeable, etc.

Last edited by Yan; 06-20-24 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 06-20-24, 05:23 PM
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what with your bikes you own is not well suited to a trip carrying camping stuff?
You're leaving next week, so you don't have a lot of time to find a bike or bikes.
If you really want some help, show or tell us what you have already, and maybe they are fine for the trip anyway.

up to you if you want to share info, but really the only way to get any sort of opinions from us old farts.
My first bike trip was on a so so suitable bike, but it worked out, borrowed a bivy tent from someone, had to walk some hills, but it was still a fun experience.

ps, I live in Montreal, but Toronto is still a pretty spread out city, so do your research if you end up really doing this trip. No different than riding into NYC, it can be ok but also could be pretty crappy if you chose the wrong roads.
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Old 06-20-24, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
. The days of crossing back and forth with just a driver's license are long gone, thanks to the 9/11 attacks.

tc.
You can travel to and from Canada if you are a NY State resident and have an Enhanced Drivers License. No passport needed.
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Old 06-21-24, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
You can travel to and from Canada if you are a NY State resident and have an Enhanced Drivers License. No passport needed.
Wow, didn't know that. Thanks for pointing that out.
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Old 06-21-24, 06:58 AM
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The following Canadian government website doesn't specify that entry to Canada by U.S. citizens having an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL) is limited to NY residents.

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/trans/gu...wbdisable=true

"U.S. Citizens/Nationals

Although exempt from document entry requirements, U.S. citizens must satisfy a CBSA officer of their status and identity. Documents that can be used for proof of U.S. citizenship are:
  • U.S. Passport
  • U.S. Passport Card (for land and marine travel only)
  • NEXUS card (see Part 6 for more information)
  • Enhanced Driver's License (for land and marine travel only)"
----------------------------------------------------------------------
However, I have seen non-governmental websites say that use of an EDL to enter Canada is limited to residents of WA, MN, MI, NY, & VT. I have an EDL but I'll continue to bring my passport next time I want to enter Canada.
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