Not Your Average Bike Path

News from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

As frequent riders and End-to-Enders know, the Erie Canalway Trail is not your average bike path. Extending from Buffalo to Albany, the trail’s course alongside the historic Erie Canal makes cycling here truly unique. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this living waterway adds distinctive flavor in the form of canal structures like locks and lift bridges, working tugs and other vessels, friendly vacationers in boats of all stripes, and canal communities that are intriguing and fun cycling destinations.

While you’re here—or before you come—visit the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s new website. Several special galleries will help you to learn about canal structures and vessels that you’ll see when cycling. You can view the website easily on your phone, tablet or computer, so you’ll find the answers to your canal questions in your pocket or bike bag when riding.

Here are a few of our favorite things to see while cycling the Erie Canalway Trail. Find more at

Watch for the powerful tugs Gov. Roosevelt and Gov. Cleveland. Both were built in 1928 as icebreaking tugs. You may also see tugs Syracuse, Pittsford, Seneca, and Lockport, or one of the smaller, but still mighty Tender Tugs at work.

04_LiftBridge_Brockport_JM09Lift Bridges

Built between 1905 and 1918, sixteen lift bridges still carry traffic over the Erie Canal in western New York. Approaching canal boats alert bridge operators with three horn blasts. The operator stops traffic on the roadway and raises the deck of the bridge 15 feet into the air to give clearance for passing boats and barges.

07_HistoricLockE56_Lyons_MarkDeCracker1800s Lock

Many of the 83 locks built on the Erie Canal in the 1800s can still be seen today. Some lie alongside today’s locks, while others are visible from the Erie Canalway Trail. These stone-walled locks were replaced by much larger and fewer concrete structures between 1905 and 1918.

Canal Operator12_Lock3_LockTender

Not a structure, but key to making the canal system work, lock and lift bridge operators carry on a long and proud tradition of ensuring that canal structures look and run well. They operate the locks for boaters, maintain equipment, keep records of the number and types of boats passing through the system, and ensure safe passage for thousands of boaters each year. Most will be happy to answer your questions about how things work.

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