It presents great, safe opportunities for kids and families to exercise, learn, and discover some of New York’s best treasures. What better way for kids to study canal history than for them to see the real thing! Cycling along the Canalway Trail gives children background experience and knowledge that round out what they learn from textbooks and classroom studies.
Here are a few suggested short rides for kids—listed west to east. Consult the Cycling the Erie Canal guidebook and online maps available from Parks & Trails New York for more details or to plan additional trips.
|Brockport to Spencerport||13 miles round trip ||Public parking is available at the Brockport Lift Bridge or at the Brockport Visitor Center.||Western New York offers excellent opportunities for “Bridge to Bridge” cycling right along the canal, as well as lots to see and do in each canal town. Cycle east to Spencerport. The Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum is a great destination where kids can relax and check out the canal exhibits. Ice cream or other treats are available in both Spencerport (if you need it at the half-way point) or Brockport. |
|Old Erie Canal State Park: DeWitt to Green Lakes State Park ||10 miles round trip||Ryder Park, just east of I-481 in DeWitt||Heading east, you’ll cycle on the old towpath and pass the remains of two aqueducts and several bridges on the old Erie Canal. While water still flows in it, this part of the canal is no longer in use. At about five miles, detour from the trail to Green Lakes State Park, located on the south side of the canal. The park is named for two glacial lakes of an amazing aquamarine color. You can hike around the lakes or swim at the beach before resuming your ride and heading back to the starting point. |
|Chittenango to Canastota||14 miles round trip||Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, Chittenango||Start by exploring the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, where you’ll see the reconstructed dry docks once used to build 100-foot long canal boats. Cycle east to the Canastota Canal Town Museum. The museum is housed in an 1874 building beside the canal and explains canal life and early businesses of the village. Ice cream is available in both towns. |
|Little Falls to Castle Creek||9 miles round trip||Public parking is available along the Mohawk River by Lock 17, accessible from Rte. 169 or at Canal Place on North Ann Street in Little Falls.||Cycle east from Little Falls. At 2.5 miles, you reach the Herkimer Home State Historic Site, home of Revolutionary War General Nicholas Herkimer. You could make this your destination for a very short ride, or continue cycling another 2.5 miles to the trail kiosk at Danube by the bridge over Castle Creek. This is a good place for lunch or a snack, and is a good turn around point. The creek has a series of small ledges below the bridge and kids will enjoy wading or skipping stones in the creek. |
Leave time at the start or end of your trip to see Lock 17 in Little Falls, the highest lift lock on the canal and once the highest in the world, and to explore Moss Island, a National Natural Landmark, which is adjacent to Lock 17.
|Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site||5 miles round trip||Public parking is available at Schoharie Creek Aqueduct||Check out the remains of the Schoharie Creek Aqueduct, which once carried canal boats over the Schoharie Creek. The original Erie Canal was enlarged or relocated three times to accommodate larger boats and cargo loads. At Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, you’ll see the remains of the original Erie Canal (Clinton’s Ditch) (1825), as well as the Enlarged Erie Canal (1862) and the present day canal (1918-present). Cycle east for 2.5 miles to the Enlarged Erie Canal Lock 28 and Putnam Store. Interpretive signs and historical images show the lock and store in the 1800s. The site is right on the Mohawk River with picnic tables and nice views.|