Erie Canalway Trail

Sun - Aug 29

We left Syracuse around 10 am and cycled along a newly completed route out of the city. It was nearly a straight shot to get to the eastern side of town, but the bike lane was a protected lane running in the middle of Erie Boulevard. Since it was Sunday, there wasn’t much car traffic, but nearly each time the trail met a cross-street, it made a slight jog on an incline. They were very safe crossings, with stoplights for the bicyclists, indicating our turn to cross, but it required dismounting from the bikes (or at least stopping) at each crossing.

About an hour later, we crossed the final thoroughfare and were truly out of town and heading down the trail.

There were few towns on today’s ride, and the ones we passed through were mostly very small places. We paused at Chittenango Landing, a very interesting living history place with a full-size canal boat and other exhibits. Unfortunately, it is closed for now, and access to the exhibits was prevented (though the Porta-potty was available). We did not linger any longer than we had to at this stop because the mosquitos were bad, and we each already have a half-dozen bites we’re nursing with anti-itch gel.

We rode about a half-mile off the trail into the village of Chittenango for a well-timed stop at Burger King. We were both all out of water, and just starting to think about lunch. Today’s temperatures were a little warmer than predicted, and the restaurant’s air conditioning was a nice respite. While we were enjoying lunch, a brief shower came through — not enough to wash the dust off our bikes, but enough to pump the humidity up a couple of notches.

When we moved on, we passed through the little town of Canastota and then a tiny place called Durhamville. We had a brief stretch of on-road riding, which was really rather pleasant because the road was shaded and there was zero traffic.

A short while later, and we were back on the dusty trail, moving alongside the old canal, which in most places was a stagnant pool of water (breeding millions more of the blood-thirsty mosquitos who are so happy to see us - we with all our capillaries fully dilated and waiting to be pierced.)

After our route moved off the road, we came to Lock 52, a spiffy installation on the New York State Barge Canal. We crossed that canal by walking our bikes across a catwalk over the locks and then moved on down a paved trail - for a bit. It eventually turned to a pea gravel trail and then narrowed to a single lane of gravel, which we rode most of the rest of the way into Rome.

We passed an historical marker indicating the point at which construction of the Erie Canal started in 1817. The builders chose that spot for its relatively uncomplicated terrain. They were still learning about canal building when they started and did not want to begin with a location that required blasting through rock or building multiple locks.

At Rome, we navigated around a busy street and some shopping areas to get on a back street riding to our hotel. We checked in around 5:30 pm, and Steve started organizing a delivery from an Italian restaurant while I went off and bought some laundry detergent. Usually, the hotels can provide laundry soap, but this one (Quality Inn) didn’t have any. The man at the desk was very helpful though, in guiding me to a nearby grocery store where I could buy detergent in a small quantity, so we are well fixed for Tide detergent for the remainder of our trip.

We showered, finished the laundry, and ate dinner. I’m writing this from bed, and I won’t be awake much longer. The wi-fi signal strength here is not so good, and I will have to post photos of today’s highlights later.

Today’s wildlife sightings included a heron, a woodchuck, a small doe and a snake.

Total miles: 49.2

bicycle traffic lights

One of the bicycle traffic lights at a crossing in Syracuse

riding along the canal east of Syracuse

Riding along the canal east of Syracuse

Men who learned as they built

When the Erie Canal was built, the builders themselves were not experts, but they learned as they went.

canal boat at Chittenango Landing

Canal boat at Chittenango Landing

raising a family on the canal

Sign about raising a family on the canal boats

detail of sign about raising a family on the canal boat

Detail of the sign about raising a family on the canal boat

Canastota, a canal town

Canastota, a canal town

a bird nest

A bird nest along the canal - perhaps for a great heron?

mural along the trail outside of Rome

A mural alongside the trail outside of Rome.

bike trail through the woods near Rome

Bike trail through the woods near Rome - mosquito infested!

Lock 52 on the Mohawk River

Lock 52 on the Mohawk River

Steve at Lock 52 on the Mohawk River

Steve at Lock 52 on the Mohawk River

Historical marker for the point where construction was started

Historical marker noting the point at which construction was started on the Erie Canal

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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