Planning an adventure on the Erie Canalway Trail

Maybe you’ve known about it for years and you’ve always wanted to make the trip. Maybe you’re just hearing about it with the publicity coming to the trail now that it’s part of New York’s 750-mile Empire State Trail. Maybe you saw hundreds of riders come through your town as part of the annual Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour. No matter why you’re deciding to plan an adventure along the Erie Canalway Trail, PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation have you covered with all of the resources you need to make your trip the memory of a lifetime.

Interactive Map

If you’re anything like me, the first thing you do when planning a trip is look at the map – and the centerpiece of our trip planning resources is our interactive map of the Erie Canalway Trail, available at www.ptny.org/ECTmap. This map is a powerful tool, helping you to navigate to different destinations on the trail, showing the surface types and up-to-date routing of the trail (with any detours that might be needed at that time), and more. Trail closures and other safety tips are shown on the map, with the map’s key in the bottom left hand corner showing what color line on the map corresponds with what type of trail surface, and what the different icons refer to. 

Along the bottom of the page, the Search by Category feature allows users to search for accommodations and attractions along the trail, as well as other amenities such as restaurants, ATMs, and grocery stores. The row of buttons along the bottom of the map includes options to change the basemap display, a measure tool that shows mileage from point to point, and a GPS tool that will quickly display your location, allowing you to track your progress from the trail. Note that for this function to work correctly, “Location Services” or a similar setting must be enabled on your phone, and your web browser must be included as one of the applications with permission to use your location – this will allow you to use the map while you’re out on the trail.  

Once you’ve found where you want to go, you can use another of the map’s features – the directions button in the upper left hand corner (). Clicking on this will allow you to pick a routing for either cycling or driving; the cycling options can be optimized to follow the trail route as much as possible. Additionally, the location icon () to the left of each location will allow you to use your current location for the directions. And to make the process even easier, clicking the “Directions” button on any of the icons on the map will automatically add that location to the directions bar.

Finding attractions on the interactive map couldn’t be easier!

Trip Planning Resources

What route to take is only a part of the process. You also will need to figure out how to spend your time when you aren’t riding – there are countless options. You can visit historic sites and discover the canal’s engineering marvels. There are numerous charming small towns with their unique shops, museums, and restaurants. Throughout the summer, there are fairs and festivals that provide excitement and energy along the trail. Or, you can just take the time to enjoy cycling and the scenic beauty along the trail. With so many things to do, it’s hard to decide where to begin. 

Have no fear – PTNY’s CycletheErieCanal.com has these resources listed on our Trip Planning Resources page. Attractions are grouped by both interest and region, with seasonal Canalway events listed by month. You’ll even find places to stay and bike shops along the way. We also have pre-planned three day self guided tour itineraries – and more to come later this year!  If you’re looking for a restaurant, a place to stay, or just some shopping – check out our Bike Friendly New York certified businesses. If you stop by one of these locations, you’ll be sure that you’re going to a place that will meet the needs of you as a cyclist. All of our BFNY-certified businesses have bike parking, are knowledgeable about the trail and local cycling information, and will have posted hours so you can know when to expect them to be open. 

Guidebook

The guidebook is perfect to use while you’re on the trail!

If you want even more information – or if you prefer having hard copy to use – in early 2021, PTNY released the 5th edition of Cycling the Erie Canal: A Guide to 360 Miles of Adventure and History Along the Erie Canalway Trail. This highly informative, popular guidebook is available for purchase at www.ptny.org/guidebook. The 142-page guidebook includes 38 easy-to-read, full color maps and is packed with detailed information about the trail itself and the many things to see and do along the Erie Canalway Trail. The guidebook is fully updated to reflect the improvements made to the trail as part of the Empire State Trail project, and also includes a comprehensive listing of attractions, historic sites, visitor centers, parks, and provides information on the availability of lodging, bike shops, parking and other services in communities along the trail. With a high-quality spiral binding and at a convenient 9″ x 5″ size – the guidebook is just right to tuck in your saddle bag or backpack. 

Erie Canalway Trail Community

Don’t just take our word for it! Thousands of riders have discovered their own adventure along the Erie Canalway Trail and are happy to talk about their trip. To join the conversation, follow the Erie Canalway Trail’s social media accounts on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ErieCanalwayTrail), Instagram (www.instagram.com/ErieCanalwayTrail) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/CycletheErie). Or, join our Facebook group to share your questions and get feedback from other riders in our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/cycletheerie.  

If all this isn’t enough enticement – once you’ve done your trip, you can add your name to the list of official Erie Canalway Trail end-to-enders at www.ptny.org/end-to-end. All those who complete the trip will be recognized with a certificate to officially recognize your achievement, access to a special Facebook frame, an End-to-End sticker, and inclusion in our e-communications and on social media celebrating the End-to-Enders.
If you have trip planning questions, feel free to reach out to PTNY staff at canaltrail@ptny.org.

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