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

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 or (716) 434-0212.


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.


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


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!

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bicentennial Celebration in Rome, July 22: The NYS Canal Corporation is planning an anniversary bash with boats, music, and festivities at Bellamy Harbor Park.
  • 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.

200 Years on the Erie Canal

Erie Canal Bicentennial to be Celebrated in 2017200Years_1.75+_rgb

2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the beginning of Erie Canal construction. A number of statewide and local celebrations to honor the legacy of the Erie Canal will take place throughout the year. Statewide planning efforts are underway, guided by an Erie Bicentennial Committee directed by the NYS Canal Corporation. Here’s a look at several things being planned:

  • Kickoff celebration in Rome commemorating the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Erie Canal that took place in July 1817;
  • Waterway Tours by the replica canal schooner Lois McClure operated by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and orchestral tours by the Albany Symphony Orchestra and Syracuse Symphonia;
  • World Canals Conference in Syracuse, September 24-28, including major public events;
  • Erie Canal exhibit opening at the NYS Museum in Albany in the fall of 2017;
  • New York State grants offered by Canal Corporation and the NYS Council on the Arts, through Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council program, are being targeted for bicentennial-related investments and community programs. Awards will be announced in December.
  • Erie Canalway National Heritage Cooridor, in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation, will target a portion of 2017 festival and event sponsorship funds for community events that celebrate the bicentennial. Watch for applications in January.

For more information, contact William Sweitzer at the NYS Canal Corporation at (518) 436-3055,


Photo courtesy of Dave Valvo

Open for Business: Wayne County Looks at Impact of Trail Tourism

PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation hit the road in October, bringing Bicyclists Bring Business events to the Wayne County communities of Savannah and Newark.

The Evening Program

For the first time in 2016, the evening portion of Bicyclists Bring Business was offered as part of a larger program, a Nature-based Tourism Summit at the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah. Since the Canal Corridor offers such a range of recreational and cultural opportunities, it made sense to compliment the bikes bring business message and tips with presentations on birding, hunting, and fishing and the economic opportunities they present. The Montezuma Audubon Center was a great venue for this collaboration as the Montezuma complex boasts a range of recreational opportunities, including birding, boating, and hunting. A presentation from Montezuma’s Executive Director Chris Lajewski hinted at future cycling routes through the complex.


Attendees came from across central and western New York, and included a mix of cyclists, birders, business owners, and representatives from local governments, Wayne County and relevant state agencies.

PTNY’s presentation, sprinkled heavily with cycling terminology and jargon, provided some background on cycling tourists, and the economic impact of the Erie Canalway Trail. Then all in attendance were asked to participate in a conceptual group ride to two of North America’s most developed trail systems, the Great Allegheny Passage and L’Petit Train du Nord. A quick spin through best practices for attracting and catering to cycling tourist followed.

Canal Corporation led the warm down phase of the cycling portion of the program, previewing the Canal Bicentennial celebration and the 2017 World Canals Conference.


Of course, progress in Closing the Gaps in the Canalway Trail was a topic of discussion. Eastern Wayne County is home to one of the largest remaining gap sections. Ora Rothfus from Wayne County Planning & Economic Development walked those assembled through the trail alignment, both existing and proposed, as it moves through the County. Ora’s presentation showed that while there is much work to be done, Wayne County does not lack for stakeholder involvement or opportunities for trail connections.

Jim Eckler from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and Chris Kenyon from Wayne County tourism provided data and anecdotes about the significant impact that hunting and fishing have for local economies in Wayne County.

The Bike-a-Round

Wednesday’s chilly weather failed to put the brakes on the second component of Bicyclists Bring Business, the community Bike-a-Round. This year’s parcours was Newark, the largest city in Wayne County. A group of 10 riders spent about two hours on the trail and in the Village of Newark, looking for ways in which the community could better publicize existing amenities, attractions, and services as well as suggesting additional steps that would better serve trail tourists. Mark Peake from the Village of Newark provided motorized SAG (Support and Guidance), meeting cyclists at many of the pre-determined discussion locations to point out steps Newark has taken and to listen to ideas from the group. After observing, discussing, and enjoying Newark, participants gathered for a lunch discussion and debrief at Parker’s Grille & Tap House.


Thanks, and let’s keep talking!

Wayne County proved a great venue for this year’s B3 events. With the County recently completing new trail sections, and a working group meeting to close the remaining gaps, it was the right time to get together to discuss opportunities that a completed trail will bring, as well as the connections between the various recreational pursuits that bring visitors to Wayne County. With feedback from participants from both events, PTNY is currently preparing a summary report and recommendations for next steps.

Special thanks is in order for Chris Lajewski of the Montezuma Audubon Center for hosting the event, Ron Palladino from the Wayne County Business Council for organizing a great program, and Glenn Wallis from Trail Works for planning our Newark Bike-a-Round! We’d also like to thank Wayne County Tourism, Wayne County Planning & Economic Development, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Village of Newark, Wayne County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and SOAR (Strengthening Our Area Residents).

As always, the New York State Canal Corporation makes Bicyclists Bring Business possible.

Bicyclists and Birds Mean Business in Wayne County

2016 Bicyclists Bring Business Events Scheduled for Wayne County

Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Canal Corporation will be bringing Bicyclists Bring Business events to Wayne County in October 2016, with an evening presentation in Savannah on October 25, and everyone’s favorite bike-a-round the next day, October 26, in Newark.


Cyclists gather before beginning a community bike-a-round as part of the 2015 Bicyclists Bring Business in Schenectady.

For the first time, in 2016, the evening presentation portion of Bicyclists Bring Business will be offered as part of a larger program, a Nature-based Tourism Summit at the Montezuma Audubon Center. Since the Canal Corridor offers such a range of recreational and cultural opportunities, this year, we’re happy to discuss how both bicyclists and birds bring business to Canalway Trail communities. Of course, Wayne County is the perfect venue for this year’s event, with the County completing new trail sections in recent years and a working group meeting regularly to close existing trail gaps.

As a follow up to the evening presentation, we invite you to join us for a community Bike-a-Round hosted by a local trail advocacy group, Trailworks, at 10:00 AM, Wednesday, October 26 in the Village of Newark. Bring your bike and meet us in the parking lot of the Newark Garden Hotel (125 N. Main Street, Newark), alongside the Erie Canalway Trail. We’ll ride through Newark and on several miles of the Erie Canalway Trail to experience Wayne County and the connections to nearby communities from the perspective of a cycling tourist. Afterward, we will discuss the results of our Bike-a-Round discovery tour during lunch at a local restaurant.

Cyclists take a break during the Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour at the historic Hotchkiss Building in Lyons, Wayne County.

Cyclists take a break during the Cycle the Erie Canal bike tour at the historic Hotchkiss Building in Lyons, Wayne County.

Join us in October to hear more about what’s happening in Wayne County and across the Canalway Trail and to get involved!

Visit the Bicyclists Bring Business page on PTNY’s website or send an email to to register for the roundtable and/or the bike-a-round.



Wayne County Nature-based Tourism SummitMontezuma Audubon Center

2295 State Route 89, Savannah

Tuesday, October 25, 5 PM



Meet at Newark Garden Hotel

125 N. Main St., Newark

Wednesday, October 26, 10 AM

Followed by discussion and lunch