Cycle the Eastern Erie: Syracuse to Albany

Cycle the Eastern Erie: Syracuse to Albany

Travel both historic and current routes of the Erie Canal on this multi-day trip. You’ll enjoy a variety of cycling experiences on the Canalway Trail from Central New York through the Mohawk Valley to the Capital Region. Keeping a modest pace allows ample time to enjoy cultural attractions, towns and cities, and local cuisine and beverages on your journey.


TOTAL DAYS: 4
CANAL: Erie Canal
LOCATION: Syracuse to Albany
CYCLING MILES: 154 over 4 days

Trip Highlights

  • Travel the historic Erie Canal route through the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park
  • Enjoy the local flavor in the quaint canal town of Little Falls
  • Explore three eras of impressive canal structures at Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site
  • Cycle through picturesque countryside with expansive views of the Mohawk River and Erie Canal

ACCESSIBILITY: The Canalway Trail/Empire State Trail is accessible for all types of bikes, including recumbents and hand cycles. The trail is accessible to people with mobility challenges and meets Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards. Off-road Empire State Trail sections are 10-12 feet wide with a paved asphalt or stonedust surface (stonedust is compacted, finely-ground material that provides a stable trail surface). Modify the mileage of this itinerary, depending on your cycling ability, or skip side trips to afford more time for cycling. The terrain is flat to rolling, with a few steeper grades between Schenectady and Waterford.

TOTAL DAYS: 4
CANAL: Erie Canal
LOCATION: Syracuse to Albany
CYCLING MILES: 154 over 4 days
Little Falls  
Little Falls
Old Erie Canal  
Old Erie Canal
Amsterdam  
Amsterdam
Little Falls  
Little Falls
Old Erie Canal  
Old Erie Canal
Amsterdam  
Amsterdam
Daily Outline:
DAY 1:Cycle from Syracuse to Rome
39 miles
Segment 1
DeWitt to Canastota (17 miles)

Begin your trip at the DeWitt trailhead parking area and cycle east. You’ll be traveling through the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park on the path where mules pulled canal boats in the 1800s. In 10.5 miles, cross the canal to visit the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, visible from the trail. From 1856 - 1917 Chittenango’s drydocks were a hub for canal boat building and repair. Visit three restored stone and timber dry docks, a replica canal boat, and exhibits about life on the canal. Return to the trail and cycle 6.5 miles to Canastota.

Begin your trip at the DeWitt trailhead parking area and cycle east. You’ll be traveling through the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park on the path where mules pulled canal boats in the 1800s. In 10.5 miles, cross the canal to visit the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, visible from the trail. From 1856 - 1917 Chittenango’s drydocks were a hub for canal boat building and repair. Visit three restored stone and timber dry docks, a replica canal boat, and exhibits about life on the canal. Return to the trail and cycle 6.5 miles to Canastota.

DeWitt to Canastota (17 miles)
Segment 2
Canastota to Rome (22 miles)

Tucked in this quaint village, you’ll find eateries, a bakery and the Erie Canal Brewing Company, not far from the canal path. It’s worth a stop for a late breakfast or early lunch. The Canastota Canal Town Museum offers a deep dive into local canal history. Leaving Canastota, you’ll continue cycling on a scenic and rural segment of the Old Erie Canal for 22 miles to Rome. With few services along this section, plan to refill water bottles and snacks before your afternoon ride.

Tucked in this quaint village, you’ll find eateries, a bakery and the Erie Canal Brewing Company, not far from the canal path. It’s worth a stop for a late breakfast or early lunch. The Canastota Canal Town Museum offers a deep dive into local canal history. Leaving Canastota, you’ll continue cycling on a scenic and rural segment of the Old Erie Canal for 22 miles to Rome. With few services along this section, plan to refill water bottles and snacks before your afternoon ride.

Canastota to Rome (22 miles)
Segment 3
When in Rome...

Your first stop is Fort Stanwix National Monument. Known as “the fort that never surrendered,” it played a key role in the American Revolution. However, its story starts much earlier with nations fighting for control of the Oneida Carrying Place, Mohawk Valley, homelands of the Six Nations Confederacy, and the rich resources of North America.

Your first stop is Fort Stanwix National Monument. Known as “the fort that never surrendered,” it played a key role in the American Revolution. However, its story starts much earlier with nations fighting for control of the Oneida Carrying Place, Mohawk Valley, homelands of the Six Nations Confederacy, and the rich resources of North America.

When in Rome...
Segment 4
Sample Local Flavor

In the late 1800s, many Italian immigrants who came to work on enlarging the Erie Canal settled in the Utica-Rome area. As a result, there’s ample authentic Italian dining. Be sure to try chicken riggies, a local favorite and delicious blend of chicken, rigatoni, and hot or sweet peppers, served in a spicy cream and tomato sauce. Popular restaurants The Savoy, Vescio’s Franklin Hotel, and DeSalvo Catering and Restaurant, are in walking distance of Fort Stanwix.

In the late 1800s, many Italian immigrants who came to work on enlarging the Erie Canal settled in the Utica-Rome area. As a result, there’s ample authentic Italian dining. Be sure to try chicken riggies, a local favorite and delicious blend of chicken, rigatoni, and hot or sweet peppers, served in a spicy cream and tomato sauce. Popular restaurants The Savoy, Vescio’s Franklin Hotel, and DeSalvo Catering and Restaurant, are in walking distance of Fort Stanwix.

Sample Local Flavor
DAY 2:Cycle from Rome to Little Falls
37 miles
Segment 1
Rome to Utica (16 miles)

From this point on, you follow the current-day Erie Canal/Mohawk River. In 12 miles, Lock E20 is a good stop for restrooms and a snack. Continue to Utica, rewarding yourself with a tour and tasting at Saranac Brewery. Then visit the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute and choose from several great lunch spots along Genesee Street.

From this point on, you follow the current-day Erie Canal/Mohawk River. In 12 miles, Lock E20 is a good stop for restrooms and a snack. Continue to Utica, rewarding yourself with a tour and tasting at Saranac Brewery. Then visit the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute and choose from several great lunch spots along Genesee Street.

Rome to Utica (16 miles)
Segment 2
Utica to Little Falls (22 miles)

Heading east from Utica, ride the newly paved trail for 3.5 miles, followed by on-road riding for 7.5 miles to Frankfort. Best suited for experienced cyclists, look for signs for the off-road trail at the intersection of Route 5S and Acme Road. You’ll find a few spots to recharge in Ilion, where the nation’s oldest gunmaker, Remington Arms is still operating. Cycle towards Little Falls, watching for Fort Herkimer Church. Built in 1753, it served as a fortress in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars. The next stretch of trail follows along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal, past Lock E18, to Little Falls Harbor and Rotary Park. The visitor center includes restrooms, showers, and a picnic area. Take a break to watch the boats or rent a kayak for a short paddle.

Heading east from Utica, ride the newly paved trail for 3.5 miles, followed by on-road riding for 7.5 miles to Frankfort. Best suited for experienced cyclists, look for signs for the off-road trail at the intersection of Route 5S and Acme Road. You’ll find a few spots to recharge in Ilion, where the nation’s oldest gunmaker, Remington Arms is still operating. Cycle towards Little Falls, watching for Fort Herkimer Church. Built in 1753, it served as a fortress in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars. The next stretch of trail follows along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal, past Lock E18, to Little Falls Harbor and Rotary Park. The visitor center includes restrooms, showers, and a picnic area. Take a break to watch the boats or rent a kayak for a short paddle.

Utica to Little Falls (22 miles)
Segment 3
Canal Place, Little Falls

Cycle from the harbor over the Rte. 167 bridge and turn right to visit Canal Place. These historic mill buildings, perched on the canal, are now home to unique restaurants, an ice cream and coffee shop, antique sellers, funky boutiques, and a beautiful inn.

Cycle from the harbor over the Rte. 167 bridge and turn right to visit Canal Place. These historic mill buildings, perched on the canal, are now home to unique restaurants, an ice cream and coffee shop, antique sellers, funky boutiques, and a beautiful inn.

Canal Place, Little Falls
Segment 4
Relax and Refuel

Before calling it a night, try the local brews at Iron Rock Brewery, the casual grill or fine dining menu at Canal Side Inn, or refuel on Italian fare at Ruggieros Trattoria.

Before calling it a night, try the local brews at Iron Rock Brewery, the casual grill or fine dining menu at Canal Side Inn, or refuel on Italian fare at Ruggieros Trattoria.

Relax and Refuel

Other things to do and see

  • Lock E17: The highest lift on the canal system, this lock carries boats up and down at heights of over 40 feet. It was once the highest lock lift in the world. Trails for Moss Island begin here. You can reach the lock from Canal Place or from the Canalway Trail on the south side of the canal.
  • Moss Island National Natural Landmark: Popular with rock climbers, this island is known for its 40 – 50 foot deep glacial potholes and ancient crystalline rock. Trails will take you around the island in about 40 minutes. Moss Island is adjacent to Lock 17.


DAY 3:Cycle from Little Falls to Amsterdam
42 miles
Segment 1
Little Falls to Lock 16 (9 miles)

Cycling east from Little Falls, you’ll reach the Herkimer Home State Historic Site in 3 miles. Home of Nicholas Herkimer, a Revolutionary War General who played a pivotal role in the battle of Oriskany, you can stroll the picturesque grounds or take a house tour. In 6 miles you’ll reach Lock E16 in Mindenville.

Cycling east from Little Falls, you’ll reach the Herkimer Home State Historic Site in 3 miles. Home of Nicholas Herkimer, a Revolutionary War General who played a pivotal role in the battle of Oriskany, you can stroll the picturesque grounds or take a house tour. In 6 miles you’ll reach Lock E16 in Mindenville.

Little Falls to Lock 16 (9 miles)
Segment 2
Mohawk Valley Villages (11 miles)

This next stretch of trail travels through the Mohawk Valley villages of St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, Nelliston, Canajoharie, Palatine Bridge, Fultonville and Fonda. Retaining much of their early Erie Canal character, buildings constructed in the canal era still line original downtown streetscapes, with Victorian homes, historic churches, and local museums weaving the historic fabric of these small communities. In Canajoharie, the Arkell Museum offers an impressive collection of American Impressionist paintings, as well as landscapes of the Erie Canal. Several good lunch options can be found nearby.

This next stretch of trail travels through the Mohawk Valley villages of St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, Nelliston, Canajoharie, Palatine Bridge, Fultonville and Fonda. Retaining much of their early Erie Canal character, buildings constructed in the canal era still line original downtown streetscapes, with Victorian homes, historic churches, and local museums weaving the historic fabric of these small communities. In Canajoharie, the Arkell Museum offers an impressive collection of American Impressionist paintings, as well as landscapes of the Erie Canal. Several good lunch options can be found nearby.

Mohawk Valley Villages (11 miles)
Segment 3
Canajoharie to Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site and Amsterdam (22 miles)

Continue cycling through a rural, wooded trail segment offering occasional views of the Mohawk River/Erie Canal. In 17 miles, be on the lookout for signs along the trail directing you to the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site. Explore the remains of the 1841 Schoharie Aqueduct, locks from 1825 and 1841, and a recreated canal store. Afterwards, continue to Amsterdam to find plenty of dining and lodging options on both sides of the river. Stop along the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge for a great photo-op on your way into the City of Amsterdam.

Continue cycling through a rural, wooded trail segment offering occasional views of the Mohawk River/Erie Canal. In 17 miles, be on the lookout for signs along the trail directing you to the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site. Explore the remains of the 1841 Schoharie Aqueduct, locks from 1825 and 1841, and a recreated canal store. Afterwards, continue to Amsterdam to find plenty of dining and lodging options on both sides of the river. Stop along the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge for a great photo-op on your way into the City of Amsterdam.

Canajoharie to Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site and Amsterdam (22 miles)
DAY 4:Amsterdam to Albany
45 miles
Segment 1
Amsterdam to Schenectady (17 miles)

Today’s ride moves from rural to urban, heading toward the Capital Region and cities of Schenectady and Albany. A must stop is Schenectady’s Historic Stockade District. If you are looking for a bakery treat, breakfast or lunch, try the historic Arthur’s Market at 35 N. Ferry St. or make a slight detour to MORE Perreca’s Italian Kitchen and Bakery at 31 N Jay St. The trail passes Mohawk Harbor, where you’ll find additional food and beverage options.



Today’s ride moves from rural to urban, heading toward the Capital Region and cities of Schenectady and Albany. A must stop is Schenectady’s Historic Stockade District. If you are looking for a bakery treat, breakfast or lunch, try the historic Arthur’s Market at 35 N. Ferry St. or make a slight detour to MORE Perreca’s Italian Kitchen and Bakery at 31 N Jay St. The trail passes Mohawk Harbor, where you’ll find additional food and beverage options.



Amsterdam to Schenectady (17 miles)
Segment 2
Schenectady to Falls View Park, Cohoes (17.5 miles)

Known locally as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, this next segment includes a few hills and scenic vistas along a paved path. Use restrooms at Lyons Park in Niskayuna, then check out Cohoes Falls, New York’s second highest waterfall. Turn left off the trail at Manor Ave., then continue three blocks to N. Mohawk St., turning right to see Falls View Park on your left. This quick, .25-mile detour is worth the view, showing the tremendous challenges overcome by the original Erie Canal engineers.

Click for Accessibility Note

Several hills in this section may be particularly challenging for people with disabilities. To avoid them, skip ahead from Schenectady and begin at Lyons Park in Niskayuna.

Known locally as the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail, this next segment includes a few hills and scenic vistas along a paved path. Use restrooms at Lyons Park in Niskayuna, then check out Cohoes Falls, New York’s second highest waterfall. Turn left off the trail at Manor Ave., then continue three blocks to N. Mohawk St., turning right to see Falls View Park on your left. This quick, .25-mile detour is worth the view, showing the tremendous challenges overcome by the original Erie Canal engineers.

Click for Accessibility Note

Several hills in this section may be particularly challenging for people with disabilities. To avoid them, skip ahead from Schenectady and begin at Lyons Park in Niskayuna.

Schenectady to Falls View Park, Cohoes (17.5 miles)
Segment 3
Cohoes to Corning Preserve, Albany (10.5 miles)

The remaining route to Albany, New York State's Capital City, includes several miles of on-road cycling, followed by a final 5-mile stretch of paved path. Watch for Empire State Trail markers along road sections, being mindful of traffic, which can be heavy at times. Pass through Green Island and Watervliet to complete your scenic Hudson River ride. A bustling city, Albany offers craft beverage makers (see below), museums, sporting events, and plenty of dining options (see our Hudson-Mohawk Sampler for details). Access the city from the pedestrian bridge at Jennings Landing in the Corning Preserve.

The remaining route to Albany, New York State's Capital City, includes several miles of on-road cycling, followed by a final 5-mile stretch of paved path. Watch for Empire State Trail markers along road sections, being mindful of traffic, which can be heavy at times. Pass through Green Island and Watervliet to complete your scenic Hudson River ride. A bustling city, Albany offers craft beverage makers (see below), museums, sporting events, and plenty of dining options (see our Hudson-Mohawk Sampler for details). Access the city from the pedestrian bridge at Jennings Landing in the Corning Preserve.

Cohoes to Corning Preserve, Albany (10.5 miles)
Segment 4
Celebrate Your Journey

You made it! Mark the occasion with one of many local craft beverages found in Albany’s Warehouse District. What used to be canalside lumber yards is now home to C H Evans Brewing Co. at the Albany Pump Station, Nine-Pin Cider Works, Ft. Orange Brewing, Druthers Brewing Company, as well as The Albany Distilling Company Bar and Bottle Shop and Capital Distilling.

You made it! Mark the occasion with one of many local craft beverages found in Albany’s Warehouse District. What used to be canalside lumber yards is now home to C H Evans Brewing Co. at the Albany Pump Station, Nine-Pin Cider Works, Ft. Orange Brewing, Druthers Brewing Company, as well as The Albany Distilling Company Bar and Bottle Shop and Capital Distilling.

Celebrate Your Journey
  • By AIR: Syracuse Hancock International Airport; Albany International Airport
  • By RAIL: Amtrak’s Maple Leaf Line runs from Toronto, Canada to New York City along the Erie Canal, making stops from Albany (Rensselaer) to Buffalo. To take the train back to your starting point, cycle across the Hudson River on the Dunn Memorial Bridge to reach the Albany-Rensselaer train station on East Street in Rensselaer. Reservations are required to carry your bike on the train. Bicycles | New York by Rail
  • BY CAR: Take NYS Thruway I90 to Syracuse. To keep a car with you throughout the trip, consider traveling in a group with a rotating driver. Parking the car at the day’s final destination, the driver then cycles or paddles back to join the group on the trail.
  • By BIKE: The Empire State Trail website will show you how to link from the Erie Canalway Trail to the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail to New York City and the Champlain Valley Trail to Canada. Parks & Trails New York offers Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook and cycletheeriecanal.com. The comprehensive guidebook is easy to tuck in a bike bag for your journey.

Below are suggestions only. They do not imply endorsement and are located within five miles of the Canalway Trail.

Day 1: Syracuse

Day 2: Rome

Day 3: Little Falls

Day 4: Albany

  • Discover Albany has a complete listing of accommodations in downtown Albany that are centrally located.



Regional tourism offices provide a wealth of information on things to do and places to stay.

Syracuse:

Erie Canal Museum

Exhibits and original artifacts showcase 200 years of Erie Canal history. The museum is housed in America's only remaining weighlock building (1850), where canal boats were weighed and tolls assessed when the Erie and Oswego Canals came together in Syracuse.

Sip on Syracuse Beverage Trail

Sample local beverages at tap rooms, breweries, wineries, and distilleries found downtown and nearby.

Central New York:

Brew Central NY

Enjoy exploring Central New York's ever-growing constellation of unique breweries, craft-centric pubs, cideries, distilleries, and wineries.

Bike Through History

Explore more of Central New York with itineraries and cue sheets leading to a variety of historic sites and communities.

Mohawk Valley Museums

For the history buff, visit this website to discover a treasure trove of local museums that share the rich history of the region.

Albany:

New York State Museum and Empire State Plaza

Free of charge, learn about New York State history, culture, nature, and geology. Stroll through the Plaza, below ground and above, to see renowned works of American Modern Art.

Albany Institute of History and Art

Founded in 1791, it is one of the nation's oldest museums and famous for its significant Hudson River School paintings.

Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site

Home of Philip J. Schuyler, the renowned Revolutionary War general, U.S. Senator, and early proponent of the Champlain and Erie canals.


  • Salt potatoes: Irish immigrants working as salt miners boiled small potatoes in salt brine for lunch. Today, the Syracuse favorite is served with butter and salt.
  • Chicken Riggies: Created by Italian-Americans in the Uitca-Rome area, this delicious blend of chicken, rigatoni, and hot or sweet peppers is served in a spicy cream and tomato sauce.
  • Utica Greens- An Italian-American signature side dish, it's traditionally made with escarole, hot cherry peppers and garlic.
  • Half Moon Cookies: Originating in Utica in 1920, these cake-like cookies are crafted with the perfect mix of smooth chocolate fudge and buttercream frosting.
  • Mini hot dog with spicy meat sauce: Not known for its regional fare, the Capital Region does offer hot dog fans a unique twist at Hot Dog Charlie’s in Cohoes and Gus’s in Watervliet.
  • Craft Beverages: Find craft breweries within 10 miles of the canal with the Empire State Trail Brewery Passport App.
Getting Here
  • By AIR: Syracuse Hancock International Airport; Albany International Airport
  • By RAIL: Amtrak’s Maple Leaf Line runs from Toronto, Canada to New York City along the Erie Canal, making stops from Albany (Rensselaer) to Buffalo. To take the train back to your starting point, cycle across the Hudson River on the Dunn Memorial Bridge to reach the Albany-Rensselaer train station on East Street in Rensselaer. Reservations are required to carry your bike on the train. Bicycles | New York by Rail
  • BY CAR: Take NYS Thruway I90 to Syracuse. To keep a car with you throughout the trip, consider traveling in a group with a rotating driver. Parking the car at the day’s final destination, the driver then cycles or paddles back to join the group on the trail.
  • By BIKE: The Empire State Trail website will show you how to link from the Erie Canalway Trail to the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail to New York City and the Champlain Valley Trail to Canada. Parks & Trails New York offers Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook and cycletheeriecanal.com. The comprehensive guidebook is easy to tuck in a bike bag for your journey.

Accommodations

Below are suggestions only. They do not imply endorsement and are located within five miles of the Canalway Trail.

Day 1: Syracuse

Day 2: Rome

Day 3: Little Falls

Day 4: Albany

  • Discover Albany has a complete listing of accommodations in downtown Albany that are centrally located.



More To Explore

Regional tourism offices provide a wealth of information on things to do and places to stay.

Syracuse:

Erie Canal Museum

Exhibits and original artifacts showcase 200 years of Erie Canal history. The museum is housed in America's only remaining weighlock building (1850), where canal boats were weighed and tolls assessed when the Erie and Oswego Canals came together in Syracuse.

Sip on Syracuse Beverage Trail

Sample local beverages at tap rooms, breweries, wineries, and distilleries found downtown and nearby.

Central New York:

Brew Central NY

Enjoy exploring Central New York's ever-growing constellation of unique breweries, craft-centric pubs, cideries, distilleries, and wineries.

Bike Through History

Explore more of Central New York with itineraries and cue sheets leading to a variety of historic sites and communities.

Mohawk Valley Museums

For the history buff, visit this website to discover a treasure trove of local museums that share the rich history of the region.

Albany:

New York State Museum and Empire State Plaza

Free of charge, learn about New York State history, culture, nature, and geology. Stroll through the Plaza, below ground and above, to see renowned works of American Modern Art.

Albany Institute of History and Art

Founded in 1791, it is one of the nation's oldest museums and famous for its significant Hudson River School paintings.

Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site

Home of Philip J. Schuyler, the renowned Revolutionary War general, U.S. Senator, and early proponent of the Champlain and Erie canals.


Sample Local Flavor
  • Salt potatoes: Irish immigrants working as salt miners boiled small potatoes in salt brine for lunch. Today, the Syracuse favorite is served with butter and salt.
  • Chicken Riggies: Created by Italian-Americans in the Uitca-Rome area, this delicious blend of chicken, rigatoni, and hot or sweet peppers is served in a spicy cream and tomato sauce.
  • Utica Greens- An Italian-American signature side dish, it's traditionally made with escarole, hot cherry peppers and garlic.
  • Half Moon Cookies: Originating in Utica in 1920, these cake-like cookies are crafted with the perfect mix of smooth chocolate fudge and buttercream frosting.
  • Mini hot dog with spicy meat sauce: Not known for its regional fare, the Capital Region does offer hot dog fans a unique twist at Hot Dog Charlie’s in Cohoes and Gus’s in Watervliet.
  • Craft Beverages: Find craft breweries within 10 miles of the canal with the Empire State Trail Brewery Passport App.

Additional Trip Planning Resources

Canalway Challenge
Canalway Challenge


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Discover Albany logo

Erie Canalway itineraries are funded in part by a grant from Market New York through I LOVE NY, New York State's Division of Tourism, as part of the State's Regional Economic Development Council awards.
® NYSDED


We are grateful to Discover Albany and the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau Foundation for funding support for the Hudson-Mohawk Sampler.