Erie Canalway Trail

Aug 27 - Palmyra to Weedsport

Today’s ride was a mix of trail and on-road riding, with slightly more than half of our day spent on the road with traffic and riding several inclines.

We left the Best Western in Palmyra around 9:30 am and took a brief detour to ride by the Mormon temple and the log cabin that was once home to Joseph Smith. A road crew had partially blocked Temple Road because they had just added a surface sealant. We were allowed to ride on the untreated portion of the road and continued toward the cabin site. We took a few photos and then moved on to rejoin the Erie Canalway Trail in downtown Palmyra.

Both of us were noticeably fatigued from yesterday’s heat and long miles, and our legs just did not feel like they were going to perform. We struggled for about 12 miles, riding in cooler temperatures than yesterday and on a trail in the woods. The skies were overcast, and it was a relief to not be dealing with the heat.

Just before we reached Newark, we saw our “leapfrog” partners, who passed by us, saying, “We’re not really following you!” We paused at a wayside on the trail and consumed an energy treat and then moved on. About 3 or 4 miles later, we entered Newark and stopped in a small park, where Steve read a tableau about Jesse Hawley. He was a flour merchant who was thrown in debtor’s prison and while he was there, he wrote and published 14 essays about the idea of creating the Erie Canal. (He was essentially an early grant proposal writer, except he wasn’t really trying to request funding for the canal.) His published essays later proved to be a solid plan that was further developed by the canal builders.

We shared a cup of coffee at a cafe in Newark and refreshed our water bottles. Less than a mile outside of town, our route moved on to NY State Highway 31, and we rode alongside traffic for several miles. Most of this route was not so bad - except for the noise of cars and trucks sharing the road with us. We were riding on a shoulder that was at least 6 feet wide, with an additional 3 feet and rumble stripes separating us from the traffic. We passed by a dry dock and canal maintenance yard, which was interesting for the variety of vessels that were sitting there, high and dry. (But it did not look like any work was being done on any of them.)

In the town of Lyons, we noticed several interesting murals, so we stopped to photograph them. We had been riding alongside the remnants of “Clinton’s Ditch,” a name which refers to the original canal built in the years from 1817-1837. In some places, the remnant of the canal has water in it, and in other places it is filled with underbrush. At the park on the edge of Lyons, the ditch was home to lots of mosquitoes, for as soon as we stopped to take some photos, they were on us. We did not linger very long there.

From Lyons, our route was on the trail, then on the highway, then back on the trail. On the outskirts of Clyde, we came off the trail (to get back on Hwy 31 again) and spotted a cafe across the road. It was about 2 pm, and we were finally hungry enough to stop for something to eat, so we pulled in and got some ice-cold coca-cola and sat at a table outside to make peanut butter sandwiches with the bagels we had bought two days ago in Lockport.

From Clyde, we had planned to ride route south on some quieter roads but opted instead to take the trail on the east side of town. We had read that the trail was closed at this point, but it looked open to us. We hoped that it would take us all the way to Port Byron and we could avoid riding any more on Hwy 31. No such luck. After about 5 miles, the trail ended, and we were back on Hwy. 31. We continued riding it all the way to Port Byron. Most of it was okay, but there was a 3-mile section that we did not particularly care for because the shoulder was much narrower and hemmed in by a guard rail on our right. Fortunately, there was not heavy traffic, and the drivers were considerate.

But there were several hills to climb, and we both geared down and just took them slowly, grinding our way to the top. But it was taking all of what little leg muscle we have to reach the tops of the hills. We had thoughts of RAGBRAI. We passed through the towns (“towns” might be an overstatement) of Savannah and Montezuma. We crossed over I-90 (the NY Throughway) and continued to Port Byron, where we knew that we could once again catch the trail and get off of Hwy. 31.

At the edge of Port Byron, we stopped in the Erie Canal Heritage Park, which was a very interesting little place. It had a small visitors’ center and remnants of historic pieces of the original canal - a set of locks (Lock 52) and a restored tavern that had been built directly at the side of the canal. The locks are exactly where they were 170 years ago, except there is no water in a channel, i.e., the locks are on dry ground because later improvements relocated the canal to channel some distance away. The Heritage Park sits alongside I-90, and the juxtaposition of the two modes of transportation is striking. Visitors can walk through the locks, and we did - admiring the stonework of the walls, cut by expert stone masons who more than likely were immigrants from Scotland, Ireland or Germany. Little posts along the walk allowed us to listen to audio recordings that explained the features were we seeing.

The short visit to the park gave us a chance to stretch our legs and walk, which felt good to us after being on the bikes all day. The staff at the park were very friendly and cheerful, even giving us tips for a good place to find refreshment in our end town for today, Weedsport.

When we left Port Byron, we had only 3 miles of trail riding to reach Weedsport, and we went directly to the Lunkenheimer Brewing Company, which had a nice area for outdoor seating. We ordered two beers and a pizza, which was delicious. From there, it was only a short pedal (about a mile) to our hotel, the Days Inn of Weedsport. We asked for a room on the ground level since the hotel has no elevator and we bring the bikes in the room with us. The desk clerk was very nice and said there were no rooms remaining on the ground level at the rate we had booked, but she gave us a free upgrade to the jacuzzi room, which was on the ground level and suited us just fine. The bikes like it, too.

We used every minute of daylight today (well, every minute since about 9:30 am), and it was nearly dark before we got to our room. We’ve both had refreshing showers, and I’m waiting for our clothes to finish drying in the guest laundry a few doors down. Steve’s already asleep. We could both really use a little extra rest. We are grateful that today’s temperatures were cooler and also that our planned route for tomorrow is shorter (to allow time for visiting a museum in Syracuse that I particularly want to see - the Erie Canal Museum).

Today’s total mileage: 48.17

Palmyra Temple of the Church of Latter Day Saints

At Palymyra, NY

Log home of Joseph Smith

Log home of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints


Tableau at the home of Joseph Smith, Palmyra, NY

Molly at mural near Newark

Molly at a mural near Newark

An old bike

An old bike

Dry dock near Lyons

Dry dock near Lyons

A boat in the Lyons Dry Dock

A boat in the Lyons Dry Dock

mosaic mural

"They Call me Sal," a mosaic mural made by school kids on display at Lyons


"They Call Me Sal" mural

sign explaining the mosaic mural

Sign explaining the mosaic mural

Molly and a mural at Lyons

Molly and a mural at Lyons

sign about the mints

Sign about the Hotchkiss Essential Oils Company of Lyons, NY

Steve samples the mint

Steve, sampling the mint plants

Lunch at Clyde

Lunch at Clyde

Map of Erie Canal Heritage Park

Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron

Old engraved drawing

Reproduction of an engraved drawing, showing canalboats at their winter docks in Coenties Slip, New York City. The Erie Canal created a water route that connected New York City (and the world) with the Midwestern U.S. (Duluth, Chicago, etc.)

Lock 52

Lock 52 (remnants of the original lock that was built near Port Byron in 1851)

Steve in the locks

Steve, in Lock 52

Steve in Lock 52

Steve, in Lock 52

Peter Van Detto and his dog Maude

Peter Van Detto and his dog Maude. He buit (1894) and operated the Erie House tavern on the banks of the Erie Canal at Port Byron

Erie House tavern at Port Byron

Restored Erie House tavern at Port Byron, NY

Rate sheet

Rates for overnight lodging at the Erie House at Port Byron

Lunkenheimer Brewery at Weedsport

Lunkenheimer Brewery at Weedsport. We had a couple of good Alt Biers and a wood-fired-oven cheese pizza here.

Jacuzzi room at the Days Inn

Jacuzzi room at the Days Inn

Aug 22 and 23 - Getting to the starting point
Aug 24 - Buffalo to Lockport
Aug 25 - Lockport to Brockport
Aug 26 - Brockport to Palmyra
Aug 27 - Palmyra to Weedsport
Aug 28 - Weedsport to Syracuse
Aug 29 - Syracuse to Rome
Aug 30 - Rome to Little Falls
Aug 31 - Little Falls to Amsterdam
Sep 1 - Amsterdam to Albany
Sep 2 - Albany

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