Cycle the Western Erie: Buffalo to Newark

Cycle the Western Erie: Buffalo to Newark

Travel what is often rated “the 100 Must See Miles” of the Erie Canal on this mutli-day ride. Keeping a leisurely pace, you will have ample time to explore quintessential canal towns and villages that have been serving as ports for pleasure craft and commercial vessels since 1825. In addition to scenic cycling, explore the museums, shops, and local eateries that serve up a distinct Western New York flavor.


TOTAL DAYS: 4
CANAL: Erie Canal
LOCATION: Buffalo to Newark
CYCLING MILES: 128, over four days

Trip Highlights

  • Explore Buffalo’s Canalside, the historic terminus of the Erie Canal and fully revitalized waterfront
  • Witness Lockport’s famous Flight of Five historic locks and the equally impressive Locks 34-35. Built in 1918, they are still in use today
  • Explore the unique offerings of several canal villages and towns
  • Cycle through picturesque countryside, local farms and big open skies
  • Get an up-close look at the structures used to operate the canal, including locks, lift bridges, and guard gates

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. This section of trail includes both stone dust and paved sections. Terrain is flat except in Lockport, where riders must navigate down a steep grade. Avoid this area by starting Day 2 below the locks from the Exchange Street Lift Bridge. This route also includes several short road crossings.

TOTAL DAYS: 4
CANAL: Erie Canal
LOCATION: Buffalo to Newark
CYCLING MILES: 128, over four days
Lockport  
Lockport
Brockport  
Brockport
Fairport  
Fairport
Lockport  
Lockport
Brockport  
Brockport
Fairport  
Fairport
Daily Outline:
DAY 1:Cycle from Buffalo to Lockport
32.5
Segment 1
Canalside, Buffalo to North Tonawanda (15.8 miles)

Once the historic juncture of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, Canalside has transformed Buffalo’s waterfront into a year-round destination. Visit Explore & More Children's Museum or the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, take a stroll along the boardwalk, or enjoy a bite to eat at Clinton’s Dish. Picking up the Canalway Trail here, cycle east along the scenic Niagara River to the junction with the Erie Canal, which starts in the twin cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.

Once the historic juncture of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, Canalside has transformed Buffalo’s waterfront into a year-round destination. Visit Explore & More Children's Museum or the Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park, take a stroll along the boardwalk, or enjoy a bite to eat at Clinton’s Dish. Picking up the Canalway Trail here, cycle east along the scenic Niagara River to the junction with the Erie Canal, which starts in the twin cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.

Canalside, Buffalo to North Tonawanda (15.8 miles)
Segment 2
Tonawanda and North Tonawanda

The “Tonawandas” are the western gateway for today’s Erie Canal. You'll find good coffee at Spot Coffee or Pulp 716 Coffee or lunch on the waterfront at the Dockside Bar & Grill or Remington Tavern & Seafood Exchange. Visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, where wooden horses were carved, constructed into carrousels, and shipped around the world from the late-1800s through the 1960s. Along the canal, Gateway Harbor Park offers live music, food trucks and special events on weekends throughout the summer.

The “Tonawandas” are the western gateway for today’s Erie Canal. You'll find good coffee at Spot Coffee or Pulp 716 Coffee or lunch on the waterfront at the Dockside Bar & Grill or Remington Tavern & Seafood Exchange. Visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, where wooden horses were carved, constructed into carrousels, and shipped around the world from the late-1800s through the 1960s. Along the canal, Gateway Harbor Park offers live music, food trucks and special events on weekends throughout the summer.

Tonawanda and North Tonawanda
Segment 3
North Tonawanda to Lockport (14.4 miles)

As you continue cycling east, a perfect halfway stop is Uncle G’s Ice Cream at 8.8 miles. From here, the trail to Lockport is paved. Follow it to Canal Street and the Lockport Locks District. Park your bikes here to walk to nearby restaurants and attractions. The Erie Canal Discovery Center offers a terrific orientation to Lockport’s famous locks. Continue walking to the Lockport Flight of Five historic locks and massive double locks 34 and 35. Plenty of dining options are also within walking distance, including local favorites: Scripts Café, Zambistro, Tom’s Diner, Lake Effect Ice Cream, Shamus Restaurant, and Lock 34 Bar and Grill.

As you continue cycling east, a perfect halfway stop is Uncle G’s Ice Cream at 8.8 miles. From here, the trail to Lockport is paved. Follow it to Canal Street and the Lockport Locks District. Park your bikes here to walk to nearby restaurants and attractions. The Erie Canal Discovery Center offers a terrific orientation to Lockport’s famous locks. Continue walking to the Lockport Flight of Five historic locks and massive double locks 34 and 35. Plenty of dining options are also within walking distance, including local favorites: Scripts Café, Zambistro, Tom’s Diner, Lake Effect Ice Cream, Shamus Restaurant, and Lock 34 Bar and Grill.

North Tonawanda to Lockport (14.4 miles)
DAY 2:Cycle from Lockport to Brockport
42.2 miles
Segment 1
Lockport to Medina (17 miles)

Today’s ride travels along the Erie Canal the entire way. You’ll cycle through farmland and orchards with big open skies and pass through several canal villages. In 12.2 miles, cross the Middleport lift bridge. Make an immediate right to take a water/snack break at Middleport Canal Park, which includes a public restroom. There are several eateries on Main Street. Stop in the village post office to see the impressive mural painted during the Works Progress Administration (WPA) era. Back on the trail, continue for five miles to reach Medina. Cross the canal on the Prospect Avenue Bridge and take your first left on Commercial Street to reach Main Street. Look for Medina’s impressive sandstone architecture and find good lunch options, including Avanti’s Pizza & Wood Fired Kitchen and Rudy’s Soda Bar and Café.

Today’s ride travels along the Erie Canal the entire way. You’ll cycle through farmland and orchards with big open skies and pass through several canal villages. In 12.2 miles, cross the Middleport lift bridge. Make an immediate right to take a water/snack break at Middleport Canal Park, which includes a public restroom. There are several eateries on Main Street. Stop in the village post office to see the impressive mural painted during the Works Progress Administration (WPA) era. Back on the trail, continue for five miles to reach Medina. Cross the canal on the Prospect Avenue Bridge and take your first left on Commercial Street to reach Main Street. Look for Medina’s impressive sandstone architecture and find good lunch options, including Avanti’s Pizza & Wood Fired Kitchen and Rudy’s Soda Bar and Café.

Lockport to Medina (17 miles)
Segment 2
Medina to Holley (20.8 miles)

Head back to the Canalway Trail. In 11.5 miles you’ll reach the Village of Albion, another charming village with distinctive architecture. Cross the lift bridge to take a spin through the village. Restrooms and showers are available in the small park on the village side of the canal. In 9.7 miles, cross the lift bridge to visit Holley Canal Park, on your left after crossing the lift bridge. Restrooms/showers are also available here. Follow local trail signs for one of the canal’s hidden gems: Holley Canal Waterfall.

Head back to the Canalway Trail. In 11.5 miles you’ll reach the Village of Albion, another charming village with distinctive architecture. Cross the lift bridge to take a spin through the village. Restrooms and showers are available in the small park on the village side of the canal. In 9.7 miles, cross the lift bridge to visit Holley Canal Park, on your left after crossing the lift bridge. Restrooms/showers are also available here. Follow local trail signs for one of the canal’s hidden gems: Holley Canal Waterfall.

Medina to Holley (20.8 miles)
Segment 3
Holley to Brockport (4.6 miles)

Ride the day's final miles to Brockport and cross the Main Street lift bridge into the village. This “Victorian Village on the Erie Canal” offers lots of charm and plenty of restaurants and shops. Start at the Brockport Welcome Center to get oriented or pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure. Sit canalside to sample local craft beer at Stoneyard Brewing Company, 48 Merchant St., or head south on Main Street for a burger at Bill Grays, a local favorite, and dessert at Abbotts Frozen Custard. Both are about a mile south of the lift bridge.

Ride the day's final miles to Brockport and cross the Main Street lift bridge into the village. This “Victorian Village on the Erie Canal” offers lots of charm and plenty of restaurants and shops. Start at the Brockport Welcome Center to get oriented or pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure. Sit canalside to sample local craft beer at Stoneyard Brewing Company, 48 Merchant St., or head south on Main Street for a burger at Bill Grays, a local favorite, and dessert at Abbotts Frozen Custard. Both are about a mile south of the lift bridge.

Holley to Brockport (4.6 miles)
DAY 3:Cycle from Brockport to Fairport
32 Miles
Segment 1
Brockport to Spencerport (7.7 miles)

Start on the Canalway Trail and cycle east. In five miles, you’ll reach the picturesque lift bridge which marks the tiny hamlet of Adams Basin. Continue to the next lift bridge at Union Street, which marks your arrival in Spencerport. Cycle across to explore this quintessential canal village. The Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum (just east of the lift bridge) is a visitor center and small museum housed in a restored 1908 Trolly Depot. Just behind is a supermarket and nearby Union Street Coffee Shop offers excellent fuel for the day ahead.

Start on the Canalway Trail and cycle east. In five miles, you’ll reach the picturesque lift bridge which marks the tiny hamlet of Adams Basin. Continue to the next lift bridge at Union Street, which marks your arrival in Spencerport. Cycle across to explore this quintessential canal village. The Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum (just east of the lift bridge) is a visitor center and small museum housed in a restored 1908 Trolly Depot. Just behind is a supermarket and nearby Union Street Coffee Shop offers excellent fuel for the day ahead.

Brockport to Spencerport (7.7 miles)
Segment 2
Spencerport to Pittsford (18.9 miles)

This next stretch of trail transforms from rural to urban as you enter the city limits of Rochester. Crisscrossing the city’s transportation network of railyards, airport, highways, and canal, follow the trail markers under, over, around, and through. In 12 miles, you'll reach Genesee Valley Park, a nice stop for a break or snack. Pay attention to trail markers here, as the Genesee Greenway Trail heads north into the city and the Canalway Trail/Empire State Trail continues east. It’s another 7.1 miles to Pittsford. You’ll pass Lock 32 along the way.

Click for Accessibility Note

If you are using an adaptive bike or want to avoid major road crossing and tighter turns, consider skipping the section of trail that winds through Rochester. You can leave the trail at Henpeck Park in Greece and pick it up again in Pittsford.

This next stretch of trail transforms from rural to urban as you enter the city limits of Rochester. Crisscrossing the city’s transportation network of railyards, airport, highways, and canal, follow the trail markers under, over, around, and through. In 12 miles, you'll reach Genesee Valley Park, a nice stop for a break or snack. Pay attention to trail markers here, as the Genesee Greenway Trail heads north into the city and the Canalway Trail/Empire State Trail continues east. It’s another 7.1 miles to Pittsford. You’ll pass Lock 32 along the way.

Click for Accessibility Note

If you are using an adaptive bike or want to avoid major road crossing and tighter turns, consider skipping the section of trail that winds through Rochester. You can leave the trail at Henpeck Park in Greece and pick it up again in Pittsford.

Spencerport to Pittsford (18.9 miles)
Segment 3
Pittsford to Fairport (5.7 miles)

With the bulk of the day’s cycling done, take time to relax and enjoy the lovely and vibrant Village of Pittsford, where you’ll find shops, cafes, restaurants, and breweries just steps from the Erie Canal. Schoen Place offers delicious lunch options. Back on the trail, you'll pass the historic hamlet of Bushnell’s Basin (on the south side of the canal) and arrive in the Village of Fairport. Stroll along the canal promenade to see boats from near and far. Three local breweries, several ice cream shops, and plenty of restaurants and bars offer many dining options.

With the bulk of the day’s cycling done, take time to relax and enjoy the lovely and vibrant Village of Pittsford, where you’ll find shops, cafes, restaurants, and breweries just steps from the Erie Canal. Schoen Place offers delicious lunch options. Back on the trail, you'll pass the historic hamlet of Bushnell’s Basin (on the south side of the canal) and arrive in the Village of Fairport. Stroll along the canal promenade to see boats from near and far. Three local breweries, several ice cream shops, and plenty of restaurants and bars offer many dining options.

Pittsford to Fairport (5.7 miles)
DAY 4:Cycle from Fairport to Newark
20.5
Segment 1
Fairport to Palmyra (12 miles)

Cycling east, the current and historic canal routes diverge. As a result, you’ll see historic stone locks, bridges, and aqueducts dating back to the 1800s alongside canal structures in use since 1918. At 7.8 miles, Macedon Canal Park at Lock E30 offers a glimpse of a lock in action. Continue for .5 miles to the intersection at O’Neil Road and take a short detour to see the impressive Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 60, built in 1841. Recommended for those with cross-breed or mountain bike tires (not recumbents or hand cycles), look for Lock 60 trail signs and follow the rugged grass path. Cycle back to rejoin the Canalway Trail at O’Neil Road and continue to Palmyra.

Cycling east, the current and historic canal routes diverge. As a result, you’ll see historic stone locks, bridges, and aqueducts dating back to the 1800s alongside canal structures in use since 1918. At 7.8 miles, Macedon Canal Park at Lock E30 offers a glimpse of a lock in action. Continue for .5 miles to the intersection at O’Neil Road and take a short detour to see the impressive Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 60, built in 1841. Recommended for those with cross-breed or mountain bike tires (not recumbents or hand cycles), look for Lock 60 trail signs and follow the rugged grass path. Cycle back to rejoin the Canalway Trail at O’Neil Road and continue to Palmyra.

Fairport to Palmyra (12 miles)
Segment 2
Palmrya Pitstop

The Erie Canal transformed Palmyra from a cluster of cabins along Ganargua Creek into a bustling village. Stroll along E. Main Street and browse shops, museums, and restaurants to enjoy the local flavor of this "Queen of Canal Towns." The Historic Palmyra Museum Complex on 124 Market Street includes a fascinating collection showcasing the canal’s influence on the town. Palmyra is also the epicenter of Mormon history. Joseph Smith discovered the golden tablets that became the Book of Mormon in 1823 at Hill Cumorah, only a few miles outside of town. Check out Muddy Waters Café, located at the Port of Palmyra, or try a heaping ice cream cone at Chill & Grill, 616 E Main St. Newark offers excellent food options as well.

The Erie Canal transformed Palmyra from a cluster of cabins along Ganargua Creek into a bustling village. Stroll along E. Main Street and browse shops, museums, and restaurants to enjoy the local flavor of this "Queen of Canal Towns." The Historic Palmyra Museum Complex on 124 Market Street includes a fascinating collection showcasing the canal’s influence on the town. Palmyra is also the epicenter of Mormon history. Joseph Smith discovered the golden tablets that became the Book of Mormon in 1823 at Hill Cumorah, only a few miles outside of town. Check out Muddy Waters Café, located at the Port of Palmyra, or try a heaping ice cream cone at Chill & Grill, 616 E Main St. Newark offers excellent food options as well.

Palmrya Pitstop
Segment 3
Palmyra to Newark (8.7 miles)

Largely shaded and rural, the trail from Palmyra to Newark passes Wide Waters, an artificial lake created during the enlargement of the canal in 1918. It continues to T. Spencer Knight Park at the Port of Newark. Don't miss the beautiful murals under the bridge overpasses along the canal. An outstanding spot for coffee, lunch, or ice cream is Erie Shore Landing, run by The Arc Wayne, opposite the park on Van Buren Street. Cross the East Avenue bridge to explore the village. Try Craft 120 overlooking the canal to toast the completion of your trip with a local craft beverage.

For a longer ride on Day 4, continue another 5.7 miles to Lyons.

Largely shaded and rural, the trail from Palmyra to Newark passes Wide Waters, an artificial lake created during the enlargement of the canal in 1918. It continues to T. Spencer Knight Park at the Port of Newark. Don't miss the beautiful murals under the bridge overpasses along the canal. An outstanding spot for coffee, lunch, or ice cream is Erie Shore Landing, run by The Arc Wayne, opposite the park on Van Buren Street. Cross the East Avenue bridge to explore the village. Try Craft 120 overlooking the canal to toast the completion of your trip with a local craft beverage.

For a longer ride on Day 4, continue another 5.7 miles to Lyons.

Palmyra to Newark (8.7 miles)

By AIR: Buffalo Niagara International Airport

By RAIL: Amtrak’s Maple Leaf Line runs from Toronto, Canada to New York City, making stops along the Erie Canal. Located at 75 Exchange Street, the Buffalo Station is just 0.3 miles from the starting point at Buffalo’s Canalside. Bicycles are allowed on board; reservations must be made in advance. Bicycles | New York by Rail

By CAR: Take NYS Thruway I90 to Buffalo. To keep a car with you throughout the trip, consider traveling in a group with a rotating driver. Each day, the driver advances the car to the day's destination and then cycles back to join the group.

By BIKE: Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook and cycletheeriecanal.com from Parks & Trails New York are comprehensive guides to cycling the Canalway Trail. The guidebook can easily tuck into a bike bag. Highly recommended!

By BIKE: Parks & Trails New York offers Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook and cycletheeriecanal.com. Both are comprehensive guides and the guidebook is easy to tuck in a bike bag for your journey.

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

Side Trips

  • Niagara Falls State Park: Just a 30-minute drive from Canalside/Buffalo, the park offers awe-inspiring scenery, outdoor adventure, and thrilling attractions. Add it to your itinerary by visiting the day before your ride.
  • Buffalo’s Broadway Market: This foodies feast includes plenty of international flavor and 40 local vendors.
  • Explore Rochester: A the Genesee Valley Park, take the paved Genesee Valley Trail north to the City of Rochester.

Loop Trails

Choose from on-road rides that loop from the Canalway Trail in Medina, Albion, and Holley in Orleans County and from Palmyra, Newark, and Lyons in Wayne County to explore more of these areas.

  • Buffalo Wings: Invented in the city's Anchor Bar, they are now served far beyond Buffalo. Find out just how hot a wing you can handle.
  • Beef on Weck: A Western New York favorite, try roast beef on a kummelweck roll (a roll that is topped with kosher salt and caraway seeds).
  • Garbage Plate: Tastes much better than it sounds. This local legend starts with macaroni salad, potatoes, burgers and hot dogs (without the buns) piled high onto a plate. Topped with all the fixings, be sure to sample the special meat hot sauce. You'll find the original at Nick Tahoe Hots in downtown Rochester, but most burger joints in the area have their own version.
  • Local Breweries: Locate craft beverages within 10 miles of the canal using the Empire State Trail Brewery Passport App.
  • Sponge Candy: This sweet Buffalo original has a tender but crisp interior, intense with flavors of caramelized sugar, coated with chocolate.
Getting Here

By AIR: Buffalo Niagara International Airport

By RAIL: Amtrak’s Maple Leaf Line runs from Toronto, Canada to New York City, making stops along the Erie Canal. Located at 75 Exchange Street, the Buffalo Station is just 0.3 miles from the starting point at Buffalo’s Canalside. Bicycles are allowed on board; reservations must be made in advance. Bicycles | New York by Rail

By CAR: Take NYS Thruway I90 to Buffalo. To keep a car with you throughout the trip, consider traveling in a group with a rotating driver. Each day, the driver advances the car to the day's destination and then cycles back to join the group.

By BIKE: Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook and cycletheeriecanal.com from Parks & Trails New York are comprehensive guides to cycling the Canalway Trail. The guidebook can easily tuck into a bike bag. Highly recommended!

By BIKE: Parks & Trails New York offers Cycling the Erie Canal Guidebook and cycletheeriecanal.com. Both are comprehensive guides and the guidebook is easy to tuck in a bike bag for your journey.

Accommodations
More To Explore

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

Side Trips

  • Niagara Falls State Park: Just a 30-minute drive from Canalside/Buffalo, the park offers awe-inspiring scenery, outdoor adventure, and thrilling attractions. Add it to your itinerary by visiting the day before your ride.
  • Buffalo’s Broadway Market: This foodies feast includes plenty of international flavor and 40 local vendors.
  • Explore Rochester: A the Genesee Valley Park, take the paved Genesee Valley Trail north to the City of Rochester.

Loop Trails

Choose from on-road rides that loop from the Canalway Trail in Medina, Albion, and Holley in Orleans County and from Palmyra, Newark, and Lyons in Wayne County to explore more of these areas.

Sample Local Flavor
  • Buffalo Wings: Invented in the city's Anchor Bar, they are now served far beyond Buffalo. Find out just how hot a wing you can handle.
  • Beef on Weck: A Western New York favorite, try roast beef on a kummelweck roll (a roll that is topped with kosher salt and caraway seeds).
  • Garbage Plate: Tastes much better than it sounds. This local legend starts with macaroni salad, potatoes, burgers and hot dogs (without the buns) piled high onto a plate. Topped with all the fixings, be sure to sample the special meat hot sauce. You'll find the original at Nick Tahoe Hots in downtown Rochester, but most burger joints in the area have their own version.
  • Local Breweries: Locate craft beverages within 10 miles of the canal using the Empire State Trail Brewery Passport App.
  • Sponge Candy: This sweet Buffalo original has a tender but crisp interior, intense with flavors of caramelized sugar, coated with chocolate.

Additional Trip Planning Resources

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