Summer Fun on the NYS Canal System

2017 marks the Erie Canal bicentennial! Celebrate one of the United States national treasures and attend one of the many events happening across New York State.

 

 

The World Canals Conference

 

September 24-28, 2017

This five day world class conference in Syracuse, NY will celebrate the bicentennial of the Erie Canal as well as hold discussions about the operation and maintenance of new and historic canals, canals within larger landscapes, environmental issues, economic and community revitalization, navigation, tourism, recreation, historic preservation and interpretation. This conference requires registration.

 

Tour the Towpath

September 23 & 24, 2017

The Tour the Towpath is a two-day, supported bike ride along the world famous Erie Canal! It begins in Rome, NY and follows the Old Erie Canal Towpath trail for 36 miles to DeWitt, NY with an option to bike to the Inner Harbor in

Syracuse (additional 10 miles). There are lots of organized and spontaneous things to discover along the way!

With one and two-day options, Tour the Towpath is a family friendly event and open to cyclists of all abilities. Riders will receive a map and guide to the many attractions, museums, restaurants, shops, and historic sites that they can explore in the communities that the route encounters on the way from Rome to Syracuse. All participants end at the World Canal Conference Kick-off Celebration at the Inner Harbor in Syracuse. For more information go to www.tourthetowpath.com.


Locktoberfest 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017, 9 AM to 5 PM

Visit Lockport for a family-friendly event that celebrate farms, food, crafts, and the community. There will be live music including Jamie Holka, The Bergholz German Band, Tom Keefer and Celtic Cross, and The Skiffle Minsterels. Locktoberfest is organized by Lockport Main Street. More information at locktoberfest.org or (716) 434-0212.

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Hittin’ the Trail

2017 Bicyclists Bring Business Events Head to Utica

Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Canal Corporation hit the trail to Utica for the annual “Bicyclists Bring Business: Canalway Trail Tourism for Your Downtown!” events. The evening program and community bike ride generated healthy discussion and excitement about how Utica, Oneida County, and the Mohawk Valley can further develop as cycling destinations.

This year’s events were sponsored by the City of Utica, Oneida County Tourism, Oneida County Health Department, and Utica Bike Rescue, Homegrown Bicycle Adventures, and Mohawk Valley GIS.

2017_B3_Flyer_green.jpg

The venue for Tuesday’s Evening Roundtable was thINCubator (326 Broad Street, Utica), a shared work space that demonstrates that innovation and creativity are alive and well. After light refreshments, the evening’s presentations provided an update Utica’s growing urban cycling network and future connections to the Empire State Trail, and some background on bicycle tourism on the Erie Canalway Trail. The heart of the program, as always, was robust discussion and a bringing together of various public agencies and resident groups around issues related to the bike/ped network.

All Attendees received a copy of the handbook, Bicyclists Bring Business: A Guide to Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities.

On Wednesday, as a follow-up to the presentation, staff from Utica Bike Rescue led a Community Bike-a-Round, a relaxed ride on Utica’s stretch of the Erie Canalway Trail and through several of Utica’s vibrant downtown neighborhoods.  Along the way, the group was able to see new recreational loop routes from the perspective of a cycling tourist. We’ll make stops to discuss connection to local points of interest and opportunities for improved infrastructure, programming, and promotion. After the ride, the group talked over what they saw over lunch at Aqua Vino.

Despite a great evening event and a

wonderful ride that reinforced Utica’s beauty, history, and great potential as a cycling destination, much work remains. However, all agreed that the enthusiasm generated and connections made at this week’s events will provide a boost to local efforts.

Media Coverage

Coverage of the evening event is available here, and bike around clips here.

Economic Impact of the Canalway Trail

According to a 2014 study, the Erie Canalway Trail experiences more than 1.58 million visits per year, and spending by ECT visitors generates approximately $253 million in annual economic impact. Oneida County’s 25 miles of existing Canalway Trail feature scenic views of the Mohawk River and connect the cities of Rome and Utica to the statewide trail network. With the County’s remaining gap section scheduled to be closed by 2020 as part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail vision, and the region’s unique combination of big-city amenities and access to the Mohawk Valley and Southern Adirondacks, Utica is well positioned to become a premier destination for cycling tourists and other recreationalists.

Bicyclists Bring Business, or B3, is presented in one Canalway Trail community each year by Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation. Communities interested in hosting B3 should email b3roundtable@ptny.org.

Thanks!

Thanks to all the great event sponsors and partners in Utica that made this year’s event memorable and successful!

Bicentennial Rides

2017 not only marks the 200th anniversary of Erie Canal construction. It’s also the 200th birthday of the bicycle, invented in Germany. Celebrate both by cycling these bicentennial routes on the Erie Canalway Trail:

  • Cycle from Rome to Syracuse in the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park. Start in Rome and you’ll be at ground zero for canal construction. Dignitaries turned the first shovel of soil in Rome on July 4, 1817. Why Rome? To ensure early success, workers started first on the easiest, most level section. Canal surveyors laid out the “Long Level” extending in both directions from Rome. This 66-mile section, from Frankfort in the east to the outskirts of Syracuse to the west, was completed without a single lock. You’ll see a number of aqueducts and bridges as you ride along the old canal—and it will be just as level for cycling as it was for canal construction 200 years ago.
  • Cycle in the Capital Region and visit Cohoes Falls. The steep climb out of the Hudson Valley around Cohoes Falls at the eastern end of the canal was one of the biggest obstacles to canal construction. Engineers designed 18 locks in Cohoes to climb 165 feet of elevation and circumvent this barrier to westward navigation. View the 75-foot cataract from Falls View Park and look for the remains of the stone locks that operated here in the 1800s adjacent to the parking area for the park. Follow the trail west for a scenic ride along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal.
  • Cycle from Lockport along the Erie Canal in Western New York. In June 1825 one of the final sections of the Erie Canal was completed in Lockport. The Lockport Flight of Five was a staircase of five locks that solved the challenge of helping boats climb the 60-foot Niagara Escarpment. Start your trip at the locks and visit the nearby Erie Canal Discovery Center, which showcases the building of the famous Flight of Five. Cycle east from Lockport; the trail is adjacent to the longest section of the canal that still follows its original path and retains its historic relationship to the communities and landscapes along its banks. You’ll discover historic Main Streets, lift bridges, farm fields, and 20th century locks alongside historic lock ruins, canal engineering marvels, and cobblestone and local sandstone buildings.
  • Go End-to-End. Cycle from Buffalo to Albany and, like thousands of canallers before you, connect Lake Erie with the Hudson River. When you do, you’ll get a sense of the Erie Canal’s impact as the longest artificial waterway and the greatest public works project in North America.The canal gave rise to villages, towns, and cities, opened the interior of North America to settlement, and put New York on the map as the Empire State.

There’s a lot to celebrate in 2017! Head to the Canalway Trail and let the fun begin!

Hilton Garden Inn: Bike Friendly in Bushnell’s Basin

This month’s Trailside business, the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/Pittsford, has served cyclists on the statewide Canalway Trail system since 2013. This year, they will become the first bike-friendly certified business as part of Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation’s Bike Friendly New York program, set to launch in May.

Situated right along the Erie Canalway Trail, in the historic district of Bushnells Basin, Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/Pittsford has offered cyclists convenient and relaxing accommodations since its debut in 2013.

The 107 room property features the Garden Grille & Bar, complimentary Wi-Fi, heated indoor pool with whirlpool spa, and outdoor patio with fire pit.There are also several eateries and shops within a short walking distance, or guests may take the complimentary shuttle to Eastview Mall.

The Hilton Garden Inn’s bike-friendly credentials are strong, with the hotel providing indoor bike storage, free overnight parking and keeping bike repair tools and supplies handy. It’s no wonder the Hilton was voted number one for lodging in the Greater Rochester Region on TripAdvisor. Find out more by visiting www.rochesterpittsford.hgi.com.

“Our close proximity to the Erie Canalway trail makes the Hilton Garden Inn the perfect spot for cyclists to refresh and relax during their travels,” said Jessica Conley, Sales Director for the Hilton Garden Inn Rochester/Pittsford. “We continue to see an increase in cyclists along the trail and the Bike Friendly New York program will allow us to make their stay more comfortable and convenient.”

Bike Friendly New York 

Bike Friendly New York (BFNY) is a bicycle friendly certification program set to launch in 2017. Administered by Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) and the New York State Canal Corporation, BFNY aims to recognize and promote businesses that provide special accommodations for bicyclists. A wide range of businesses can apply for bike-friendly certification, including restaurants and bars, lodging, shops, and museums. BFNY was conceived with businesses located along the statewide Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) in mind; however, eligible businesses across New York may apply and be certified.

More information, including the program guide and application link, can be found at www.ptny.org/bikefriendly.

 

New Transportation Service Ready to Roll on the Canalway Trail

Erie Canal Bike Shuttle (ECBS), a new shuttle service on the Erie Canalway Trail, is gearing up for our very first season!

The service was designed especially for cyclists. ECBS will operate 3 shuttle buses, each accommodating up to 24 cyclists, and have enclosed cargo trailers that will haul the bikes and gear.

Buses with trailers in tow will operate out of a Syracuse hub,  providing daily out and back shuttle runs to Buffalo and Albany.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend (May 25, 2017), ECBS will provide cycle shuttle service along the entire 360 miles of the statewide Erie Canalway Trail. In addition to daily shuttle services, ECBS has a great website loaded with helpful planning information such as free multiday trip itineraries, maps, trip & packing guidance, and so much more.

“We’ve done a lot of planning and outreach, and really tried to design our services around the needs of cyclists using the Canalway Trail.”, says Diane Kolifrath, owner of Erie Canal Bike Shuttle.

ECBS will also offer several supported-ride packages, from posh “Inn-to-Inn cycle & stay” trips, to bike & camp trips. These packages include your overnight accommodations and gear and luggage transport (optional bike rentals can be arranged as well).

To celebrate its first operating season, ECBS is offering some great discounts.  The grand opening special allows rides between May 25th and June 1st for only $45 for the West or East Shuttle, or only $75 for full Erie End-to-End. All summer trips booked before May 1 save 20%;  book before June 1 to save 10%.

“The Erie Canalway Trail offers so much, “ offers Diane Kolifrath, “great local flavor, rich history, beautiful scenery, and attractions for both kids and adults. Our goal is to make it fun and easy for people to plan an exciting vacation on the awesome Erie Canalway Trail.”

Find out more about ECBS’s services at www.GoBikeErie.com, or call (949) I-BIKE-NY.

Best of luck Dianne and the whole ECBS crew. Dependable and convenient transportation is a critical piece in attracting more visitors to the Canalway Trail, and ensuring a high level of service for trail users.

Celebrations Begin for Erie Canal Bicentennial

You’re invited! This year marks the 200th anniversary of canal construction and exciting bicentennial events are on tap. You’ll find boat tours, bike rides, festivals, music, and family-friendly activities all year long. Here are a few of the special events taking place; find more at https://eriecanalway.org/explore/events

  • Glass Barge: The Corning Museum of Glass is sponsoring a special GlassBarge, a watercraft that will bringing the story of glassmaking as well as demonstrations to waterfront communities. The barge will visit Fairport Canal Days 6/2-4, Seneca Falls Canal Fest 7/7-9, and the World Canals Conference in Syracuse 9/24 and Baldwinsville 9/26-27.
    www.cmog.org
  • Journey Along the Erie Canal, Jun 28-July 7: A team of riders from Our Ability welcomes cyclists of all abilities to join them for a few hours or several days as they complete their fourth cross-state bike ride along the Erie Canal. Our Ability seeks employment and empowerment for people with disabilities.
    http://www.ourability.com/journey-along-the-erie-canal
  • Water Music, July 2-8: Albany Symphony Orchestra is embarking on a seven-day musical journey on the Erie Canal from Albany to Lockport, presenting seven free waterfront performances of new orchestral works and American favorites to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal. Stops include: Albany, Schenectady, Amsterdam, Little Falls, Baldwinsville, Brockport, and Lockport. http://www.albanysymphony.com
  • Lois McClure Legacy Tour, July through October: The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s sailing canal boat Lois McClure will visit ports along the Champlain and Erie Canals. Along the way they will celebrate the vital role of “boatwood” trees such as white oak and white pine that have been essential for centuries in boatbuilding as well as in the forest ecosystem. The schooner will be one of the centerpiece vessels at the 2017 World Canals Conference in Syracuse in September. http://www.lcmm.org/our_fleet/lois_mcclure_schedule.htm
  • Bicentennial Celebration in Rome, July 22: The NYS Canal Corporation is planning an anniversary bash with boats, music, and festivities at Bellamy Harbor Park.
    www.canals.ny.gov
  • World Canals Conference, Syracuse, September 24-28: Events, tours, and presentations will showcase some of the most exciting activities on the world’s waterways. Centering on canals as agents of transformation, WCC2017 brings together hundreds of canal enthusiasts, professionals and scholars from around the world to discuss canals and inland waterways as a means to promote tourism, spur economic and community development, improve environmental quality, and exchange best practices on protection strategies for historic sites.
    www.wcc2017syracuse.com

No Sitting Around for Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies

The Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies are not your typical lawn chair loungers. In fact, their motto is “Lawn Chair Ladies are the best, they don’t sit like all the rest!” The Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies is a marching and dancing unit made up of Kendall Central School alumni and their friends. The group first convened in 2012 and has participated in several parades and festivals since then. All of their prize money supports Kendall families facing financial hardship.

LawnChairs

The Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies are the newest Adopt-a-Trail group in Western New York.

This past winter, one of their members, Carol Peterson, decided to extend the group’s generosity to the Erie Canalway Trail. She found a 1.5-mile stretch of Erie Canalway Trail in Hulberton, Orleans County that the group could adopt. According to Carol, the trail is an especially important place for the Lawn Chair Ladies. “Two are End-to-Enders, so it is particularly close to our hearts,” she said. Carol, a self-proclaimed cycling enthusiast, completed the trail End-to-End in August of 2015.

Carol’s enthusiasm is reflected in the rest of the group too. Before the threat of snow melted away in early spring, the Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies had already planned their first trailside clean-up event.

As the weather heats up, they plan to continue lending a hand to keeping the Erie Canalway Trail free of trash and debris, so if you’re out on the trail in between Hulberton and Telegraph Roads in Hulberton this summer, chances are good that you’ll see the Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies out in full force.

The Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail program includes more than 50 community and civic groups who participate in regular clean-up events across the 524-mile NYS Canalway Trail system. Visit the Adopt-a-Trail page for more information on how you can join a group or adopt a section of trail in your area.