New York State Canalway Trail
The New York State Canalway Trail is a network of multi-use trails that run parallel to current or former sections of the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain canals. When completed, the system will have 524 miles (843 km) of trails following current and former sections of the canals. The longest of these is the 365 miles (587 km) long Erie Canalway Trail.
A partnership of national, state, local and non-profit organizations is working to complete a continuous system of trails along these canals. Among the organizations involved are Parks & Trails New York, the New York State Canal Corporation and the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.
Before the railroad era, New York had an extensive network of canals. As commercial freight shifted away from canals and towards rail and highways, communities along the canals needed new ways to generate commerce. In 1995, the Canal Corporation issued a recreation plan, which offered a view of the Canal as a linear park, including trails linking communities along the trail. Biking, hiking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, canoeing, and fishing are among activities promoted.
The original canals were flanked by towpaths, where mules walked while pulling barges through the canals. Many of the canalway trails follow former towpaths. Some trails follow canals that are still in use, serving mostly recreational boating. Other towpath trails pass by the ruins of abandoned locks and other structures. Many communities along the canal have made progress in establishing parks, improving towpaths and raising funds for restoration of old canal structures such as locks and aqueducts.
As of 2011, the Erie Canalway Trail was 75% complete. About 80 miles of the trail have not been built, with gaps remaining from Amherst to Lockport, Lyons to Port Byron, Camillus to DeWitt, Utica to Little Falls, Amsterdam to Rotterdam Junction, and Cohoes to Watervliet.
Some of the completed sections include:
Erie Canal Trails
|Section name||Begin and end points||Length||Surface||Comments|
|Erie Canal Heritage Trail||Buffalo to Newark||114 miles||Paved and stone dust|
|Old Erie Canal||Port Byron to Camillus||28 miles||Stone dust||Includes Camillus Erie Canal Park and restored aqueduct at Nine Mile Creek.|
|Old Erie Canal State Park||Dewitt to Rome, New York||36 miles||Stone dust|
|Rome to Utica||30 miles||Paved, stone dust|
|Mohawk Hudson Bike/Hike Trail||Fort Hunter to Albany, New York||86 miles||Asphalt||East end of Erie Canalway, connects to Hudson River Greenway|
|Old Champlain Canal Trail||Village of Waterford and Town of Halfmoon, NY||3 miles||Stone dust, soil||Starts at the junction of the former Champlain Canal and the Erie Canal|
|Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail||9 miles|
- Parks and Trails New York, www.ptny.org/canalway/index.shtml, retrieved June 17, 2009
- "Closing the Gaps: A Progress Report on the Erie Canalway Trail 2011". Parks and Trails New York. Retrieved 9/7/2012.
- "Erie Canalway Map & Guide". Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, National Park Service. 2012.