If you love sleeping under the open sky and waking up to the sun, or you’re just traveling on a budget, camping along the Erie Canalway Trail is a great way to spend your nights on the trail. Luckily, the Erie Canalway corridor has lots of places to pitch a tent, giving you the flexibility to travel at your own pace and experience the natural beauty of the Erie Canal up close.
To make things even easier, Parks & Trails New York created an interactive map of all the camping opportunities you can find along the corridor, from primitive sites along the canal to private campgrounds complete with on-site restaurants and heated swimming pools. By clicking on an entry on the map, you’ll bring up information about each campground, including type of facility (described in detail below), description and amenities, information on cost (as of May 2022), whether reservations are required, and contact information, including website, address and phone number. Read on for our guide to the types of camping facilities you’ll find along the canal, and make sure to check out the map of campsites on PTNY’s website.
Types of Campgrounds
The four main types of camping opportunities you’ll find along the trail are NYS Canal Corporation Biker-Hiker-Boater Campsites (free), Municipal Parks and Marinas (free-$20), State Park Campgrounds (for a fee), and Private Campgrounds (for a fee). Most campgrounds are open May-October, but if you are traveling during the shoulder season, make sure to call ahead.
NYS Canal Corporation Biker-Hiker-Boater Campsites
The New York State Canal Corporation offers 17 Cycler-Hiker-Boater Campsites along the Canalway Trail and waterways. These campsites are designed to make touring along the Canal System easier for trail users, boaters and paddlers during the navigation season (May-October). Canal Corporation offers camping designated as “primitive,” with limited on-site amenities. Porta johns are provided at the designated campsites but visitors should be prepared with their own potable water, first aid kits, and camping and cooking supplies.
The sites include an area for 4 tents/10 people. Stays are limited to 48 hours and are available on a first come first serve basis. Please provide advance notice by contacting the sites at the phone numbers listed prior to arrival.
Upon arrival, see the Lock Operator, then take a 1-minute online survey. If the Lock Operator is unavailable, see posted QR Code to access survey.
Visit the NYS Canal Corporation website for locations and guidelines.
Municipal Parks and Marinas
Along the way, many villages provide cyclists and boaters with a place to camp, ranging from primitive sites consisting of a grassy area by the canal to designated campsites with picnic tables, access to bathrooms, WiFi, laundry and more. The Welcome Center in Brockport and the Marina in Ilion come particularly highly recommended for the amenities they provide.
Many of the more established municipal parks and marinas are listed on the map, but if you are interested in camping in another village, the best course of action is to call the village or local police department to find out whether they allow camping and if so, where they would recommend you stay. In addition to the sites listed on the map, travelers have had luck in Gasport, Medina, Palmyra, Newark, Lyons, and Little Falls but always make sure to call ahead.
State Park Campgrounds
The Erie Canalway corridor is home to several breathtaking NY State Parks that offer camping for cyclists. The two state parks closest to the trail, Green Lakes State Park and Verona Beach State Park, are both certified Bike Friendly campgrounds, meaning that they have reserved space for bicyclists with no reservation required, offer one-night stays for cyclists even when other travelers may have a minimum of two nights, and have bike pumps and repair tools on hand. This is great news for bike travelers on the Erie Canalway Trail, as these park campgrounds can fill up quickly on weekends!
Sometimes you want to camp but just want a few more amenities. Access to a swimming pool and a guaranteed shower? Yes please! The Canalway Trail corridor is home to lots of private campgrounds that offer an experience that’s a step up from some of the other more primitive sites you’ll find at locks or municipal parks.All of the campgrounds on our map have confirmed that they welcome cyclists, but some go above and beyond. For example, Red’s Twilight on the Erie in Macedon is a certified Bike Friendly New York campground, just like the state parks. Other campgrounds cater to cyclists by offering special rates for cyclists like the NorWin Campground in Lyons or a dedicated area just for cyclists like Red Rock Ponds Campground in Holley.
Other Camping Options
Love meeting new people when you travel? There are over 50 Warm Showers hosts along the Erie Canalway Trail corridor. Warm Showers is a non-profit hospitality exchange for people engaging in bicycle touring. The platform is a gift economy — hosts don’t charge for lodging and are not bound. It’s an incredible community composed of both hosts willing to open up their homes or yards for camping and bicycle travelers that are so grateful to have somewhere to sleep for the night, and sometimes a shower and home-cooked meal. Often, hosts are folks that have done bicycle touring in the past and want to give back to the community that supported them. If you live near the trail, why not consider becoming a host!
More Trip-Planning Resources
- Looking for something a little comfier for your overnight stays? Check out our list of places to stay along the trail.
- Read our blog: Planning an Adventure on the Erie Canalway Trail
- Order the Cycling the Erie Canal guidebook. This physical book has 38 easy-to-read, full-color maps as well as the availability of lodging, bike shops, parking and other services, and a comprehensive listing of attractions, historic sites, visitor centers, parks to help you plan your trip.
- Check out the new interactive trip-planning resources at empiretrail.ny.gov.