Bike Tripper

Have Bikes, Will Travel
Bike Trail Maps & Photos Galore

You are here > Home > New York > Erie Canalway Trail
Reported: June 2023

Erie Canalway Trail... New York

Leisurely Biking and Touring along the Historic Erie Canalway

The Erie Canalway Trail runs about 360 miles from Albany to Buffalo, NY, along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. It forms the western leg of the Empire State Trail, and is part of the New York State Canalway System. The trail follows the route of the Erie Canal, running on Canal towpath and along parallel rail routes; remnants of the old Erie Canal can be seen in spots. It passes through urban, suburban and rural areas, with paved asphalt and unpaved stonedust portions, and some sections on the road. Biking the entire trail is a 9-10 day adventure, most visit in smaller increments to take in nature, history, interesting communities, and the many activities along the way (biking, hiking, boating and paddling, horseback riding, picnicking, camping, birdwatching). Accommodations are available in the larger cities, and camping in more rural areas and parks. (Detailed map and photos below.)

bike New York, Erie Canalway Trail, Empire State Trail, biking,

Location: Albany to Buffalo, NY (See map)
Distance: 360 miles
Surface: Various - paved asphalt, compacted stonedust, on-road

Bike Shops/Rentals:
View full list of bike shops external

 Page Summary:

 Erie Canalway Trail - Albany to Amsterdam
  1. Biking the Erie Canalway Trail
  2. Canalway at Albany
    - Corning Preserve Trailhead
  3. Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail
    - Albany to Rotterdam Junction
  4. Canalway at Rotterdam Junction
    - Pattersonville Trailhead
  5. Canalway at Amsterdam
    - Amsterdam Trailhead, Amsterdam South Side
    - More in Amsterdam: Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, Riverlink Park, Chuctanunda Creek Trail
  6. The Original Erie Canal
    - Vischer Ferry Preserve
  7. More Information and Resources

Biking the Erie Canalway Trail... Comments and Photos

As more casual "Bike Trippers," we visit at a more leisurely pace, sightseeing and stopping often at places of interest. This report covers the first 50 miles of the Canalway from Albany to Amsterdam, focusing on paved, easy-to-ride sections and on visiting historic sites and places of interest. The biking route here is paved with just a few on-road sections. (Miles shown are approximate.) While we visit east to west, most trail end-to-enders travel west to east due to prevailing winds. Whether for short daytrips or longer through-rides, there are many excellent resources on-line to assist in detailed trip planning (see links below, "Related Resources").

Canalway at Albany (mile 0)

Corning Preserve Trailhead

The Erie Canalway Trail starts at Corning Riverfront Preserve on the western shore of the Hudson River in Albany, NY. The trailhead is located at Quay St. and Colonie St., near downtown Albany, with parking next to (and under) I-787, benches and a fix-it station, and close to the Corning Preserve boat ramp. Link to downtown Albany from here, crossing I-787 via the Albany Skyway - formerly an underused highway ramp, now an elevated park with bridge and multi-use path.

** History: This marks the east end of the Erie Canal. When the Canal was completed in 1825, Albany boomed as an important regional hub, with a huge lumber trade at the port. After cars and trains became the main means of transport, the canal basin was eventually filled in and is now Corning Riverfront Preserve.

Albany to Rotterdam Junction (mile 0-40)

Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail

The Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail runs 40 miles along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers from Corning Preserve in downtown Albany, through Schenectady to Rotterdam Junction. With scenic views and parks along the way, the trail is diverse - from urban to suburban areas, to woods and fields, and the ever-present rivers. The paved, multi-use trail is part of both the Empire State Trail and the Erie Canalway Trail.

For full description and many more photos, see our Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail page.

Rotterdam Junction to Amsterdam (mile 40-50)

Pattersonville Trailhead - Rotterdam Junction

The Pattersonville Trailhead is located along River Rd. (SR 5S/Main St.), with parking, picnic tables, and bike fix-it station. This is the end of the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. The Erie Canalway Trail / Empire State Trail, however, continues on its westward route, running through a shaded corridor paralleling SR 5S, buffered from the road.

Pattersonville Trailhead to Amsterdam

The 7 miles to Amsterdam is an easy, off-the-road ride between the Mohawk River and SR 5S/Cleveland Ave. This passes through quiet woodland and farmland, with parking, porta-potty and boat launch at Canal Lock 10, plus a roadside parking area along lightly traveled Cleveland Ave.

Lock 10

Trail along Cleveland Ave.

Amsterdam (mile 50)

Amsterdam is an historic old city that we enjoyed, and we spent some extra time visiting places of interest and learning more about its history (see detailed history here external).

Amsterdam Trailhead

In Amsterdam, the Canalway trail runs alongside Erie St. to the Amsterdam Trailhead at Erie and Bridge Sts. The trailhead has parking, picnic table and a fix-it station. Located in Amsterdam's South Side neighborhood, there are several restaurants nearby, as well as historic points of interest. The area was originally the village of Port Jackson, but was annexed into Amsterdam in the 1880's.

Amsterdam Castle (1895)

Amsterdam Castle at 49 Florida Ave. was built in 1895 as the Amsterdam Armory for the New York Army National Guard.

Built in the "castellated" Victorian Style popular at the time, the property served as an Armory until 1994 when it passed to private hands. Later extensively renovated, it's now a 21-room boutique hotel and restaurant, with a private residential wing. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More information.external

Samuel Sweet Canal Store (1850)

The Sweet Canal Store, 65 Bridge St. Built 1850 to service barges on the Erie Canal, serving as a store and warehouse.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

South Side Veterans Memorial Park

Across Bridge St. from Sweet Canal Store, honoring South Side Armed Forces members who served and died.

The Veterans Memorial was erected in 1946 to honor World War II service members, with plaques later added honoring those serving in Korea and Vietnam.

More in Amsterdam

Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook

From the Amsterdam Trailhead, follow Bridge St. north about 1/10 mile to the Mohawk River and the stunning Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge. The bridge spans the Mohawk 511 feet on a curved 30-foot-wide walkway linking Amsterdam's South Side to the north at Riverlink Park. Designed as a landscaped "park over the water" with trees and flowers, it features river views, benches, artwork and exhibits describing the area's history and its neighborhoods. More information.external

Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook

Typical Historic Displays

Riverlink Park

Riverlink Park runs along the Mohawk with river views, the 9/11 Memorial, walking/biking paths, picnic tables, public art, informational signs, playground, restaurant, and Marina/boat dock with restrooms, showers and laundry. The park hosts the Summer Concert Series and other events (festivals, fireworks, etc.) through the summer months. Of unique interest are the peregrine falcons that nest under the Church St. (SR30) bridge - we were treated to seeing one up close at the Painted Rocks display. The Painted Rocks are a sculpture recreating Native American pictographs found on limestone cliffs near here. More information external

Chuctanunda Creek Trail

bike New York, Erie Canalway Trail, Empire State Trail, biking, The trail runs along Chuctanunda Creek, once the center of the city’s industry, its water powering the mills and factories that lined its banks. The 4-mile Chuctanunda Creek Trail (the "Chuck") is a mixed-use trail following the creek that includes waterfalls, bridges, and dams. Starting at Gateway Overlook (near where the creek empties into the river), the trail runs through Riverlink Park (above), then through downtown Amsterdam (where the creek runs underground), and past Kirk Douglas Park (which we visited in order to view the creek and some of its waterfalls, below). It ends along a nature path through a Greenway. Various points of interest are featured on informational signs. More information.

Kirk Douglas Park

We visited a portion of the trail at Kirk Douglas Park - the iconic actor was an Amsterdam native. The park is at the historic location where Albert Vedder founded Amsterdam in the 1770's, with saw and grist mills powered by the creek. Today, it's an urban park with playground, benches, picnic tables, and two waterfalls along Chuctanunda Creek near where it empties into the Mohawk.

The Original Erie Canal

The original Erie Canal was completed in 1825, at 363 miles it was the second longest in the world. It was considered an engineering marvel, with an elevation lift of 528 feet over its route. Expanded over the years, in 1905-1918 a "barge canal" for larger vessels was built and half the original canal was abandoned (some segments of the original can still be seen). Active today, mostly for recreational use, the Canal is open from May to November - it's the longest ongoing transportation project in North America.

Vischer Ferry Nature & History Preserve

We visited remnants of the old Erie Canal and towpath at 700-acre Vischer Ferry Nature & History Preserve, located on the north shore of the Mohawk at Clifton Park. From the main trailhead at Riverview and VanVranken Roads (parking, bike rack, picnic), cross the restored 1862 Whipple Truss Bridge over the Canal. Signs point to several trails, and to the Towpath. The towpath trail is bikeable (fat wheels or mountain bikes recommended). Historic markers are located throughout the Preserve - visit Double Lock 19, the site of Fort's Ferry (1672, the first European settlement in Clifton Park), and Chutes Dry Dock (1852, where canal boats were repaired). Other trails loop through the Preserve, past wetlands and floodplain (can be muddy or flooded after rains). It's also a designated Bird Preservation Area with over 200 species spotted, plus turtles and other wildlife native to a wetlands ecosystem.

More Information and Resources

More Biking:
Empire State Trail - Manhattan to Albany, Canada, and Buffalo
Bike-New York - More bike trails and information about biking in New York State

Related Resources:
Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor - Cycle the Erie Canalway Trail external
Parks & Trails New York - Cycle the Erie Canal external

Support and Advocacy:
Parks & Trails New York external
Erie Canalway Heritage Fund external

Go to Top  Have Bikes, Will Travel


Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Have Bikes - Will Travel