The 24th annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour finished its eight-day journey on Sunday, July 17 in Albany. The approximately 750 riders who left from Buffalo a week earlier experienced some of the best sights that New York State has to offer over the week. 2022 marks the 24th year of the tour, organized every July by Parks & Trails New York. The participants in this year’s tour ranged in age from 10 to 83, and came from over 40 states across the country, drawn to the unique experience of cycling nearly 400 miles over the weeklong tour and visiting New York’s historic canalside communities.
Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day, cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now more than 85 percent off-road. Since 2020, the Erie Canalway Trail has also served as the east-west section of the 750-mile Empire State Trail. Recent studies by Parks & Trails New York reveal that the Erie Canalway Trail receives over three million visits every year and generates an economic impact of over $253 million. This year, cyclists were able to help prepare for their trip using a new interactive story map.
Day 1: Buffalo to Medina
The first day of the tour took cyclists along the Shoreline Trail from Buffalo to the City of Tonawanda. From there, the tour wound through Pendleton to the City of Lockport, where cyclists took a boat ride through Lockport’s iconic “Flight of Five” locks and explored this 21st-century city with its roots in the early 1800s. Day one ended after nearly 50 miles of cycling in the historic community of Medina.
Day 2: Medina to Fairport
On day two of the tour, riders had the first chance to travel through a designated Empire State Trail Town – the Village of Brockport. In early 2022, the “Victorian Village on the Erie Canal” was selected by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the New York State Canal Corporation (NYSCC) as the pilot community for the new Empire State Trail Town program, based on its long-standing connection to the canal and commitment to the trail. Over the last six months, PTNY has been working with the Village and a dedicated group of volunteers to help Brockport attract and profit from the growing bicycle tourism market, improve the trail and infrastructure for those that walk and bike in the village, and establish a strong community identity tied to the trail.
Day 3: Fairport to Seneca Falls
Day three brought the riders to Seneca Falls after riding through historic canalside communities through Wayne County, such as Palmyra, Newark and Lyons, before turning south into the Finger Lakes region. The ride finished the day in Seneca Falls with visits to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Elizabeth Cady Stanton home.
Day 4: Seneca Falls to Syracuse
On day four, riders arrived at the halfway point of the trip in Syracuse. During their 39-mile journey from Seneca Falls cyclists pedaled past the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, then followed the historic canal towpath to the Camillus Erie Canal Park, where they stopped at the park’s Sims Store, a re-creation of a 19th century general store. After setting up camp in Burnet Park, riders left their bikes behind for dinner in Syracuse’s Armory Square district or for a tour of the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse’s historic Weighlock Building.
Day 5: Syracuse to Rome
Day five brought the riders an additional 50 miles east to Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome. Participants enjoyed spending a leisurely day riding along the peaceful Old Erie Canal State Park, with stops including the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum and the Canastota Canal Town Museum.
Day 6: Rome to Canajoharie
The following day was the longest day of riding, as the tour entered the Mohawk Valley and a 61-mile ride brought riders from Rome to Canajoharie. During the day, riders traveled on newly constructed trail through the Mohawk Valley, complete with sweeping views of the river. Later that day, riders made it to Little Falls to explore the glacial potholes of Moss Island, a National Natural Landmark, and to shop at the restored Canal Place. The ride also included a stop at the Herkimer Home State Historic Site, before ending the day in the historic village of Canajoharie with a visit to the world-class Arkell Museum.
Day 7: Canajoharie to Niskayuna
On the tour’s penultimate day, riders arrived in Niskayuna at the end of a 46-mile journey from Canajoharie alongside the scenic Mohawk River. Stops for the day included Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, which features all three alignments of the Erie Canal, tour of historic Schenectady.
Day 8: Niskayuna to Albany
The tour’s final day on Sunday, July 17 saw riders continue along the Mohawk River to historic Waterford, where the current Erie Canal ends at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. Riders enjoyed the final rest stop of the tour at Peebles Island State Park, refueling for their final mileage south. The tour ended with a ride along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail to this year’s finish line at Albany’s Corning Preserve, located at the eastern end of the historic alignment of the Erie Canal.
“Cycle the Erie Canal tour is a wonderful way to experience the Erie Canal. It’s fun, healthy, and good for the economy,” says Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “We had cyclists aged 10 to 83 and they all got to experience what makes the Erie Canal and upstate New York so special.”
The New York State Canal Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York Power Authority, has partnered with Parks & Trails New York on Cycle the Erie Canal since its inception. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor was the premier heritage sponsor of the event. Nine regional tourism agencies also sponsored the ride.
Parks & Trails New York is New York’s leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving our health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space.