The Erie Canalway Trail presents great, safe opportunities for kids and families to exercise, learn, and have fun together. You’ll see boats, historic canal structures and canal communities, and experience New York’s incredible canal heritage along the way. Try one of these Kid Friendly Rides for your next adventure.
- Go far enough to have fun, without pushing it beyond what kids can handle. Plan short rides initially and lengthen them as your child’s interest and stamina grow.
- Stop along the way. Make brief pit stops to see old aqueducts, bridges, locks, or wildlife.
- Choose a destination where you’ll turn around. This gives kids a sense of accomplishment and a point to shoot for as they ride.
- Be prepared with snacks and water or plan on an ice cream stop to celebrate the end of the ride.
Here are a few suggested short rides for kids—listed west to east. Map your ride using the online NY Canal Map. An excellent resource to take with you is the Cycling the Erie Canal guidebook available from Parks & Trails New York.
|Lockport Ice Cream Ride||12.6 miles round trip||Stevens Street/State Street Canalway Trail Parking Lot, Lockport||Cycle west along newly paved trail with great views of the canal. You’ll see lovely gardens planted with flowers and BikeArt and a number of canal artifacts displayed along the route. This section of trail is cared for by volunteers, so be sure to say hello and thank you if you see them in the gardens. Ride to Washington Street and Uncle G’s Ice Cream for a treat and then return.|
|Lockport Locks and Bridges Ride||3.8 miles round trip||Canal St parking lot off Ontario Street, Lockport||Start by exploring the remarkable Lockport Flight of locks, chat with a Lock Master and watch for boats. Cycle east on old canal towpath, now the Canalway Trail and under the “upside down railroad bridge,” built in 1902. Cross the 1915 Exchange Street Lift Bridge to the south side of the canal and follow the paved path to Widewaters Marina. Here, you can enjoy Lockport’s Revi-Erie canalside sandy beach and find food and ice cream at Widewaters on the Canal. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and bikes. Ride back the way you came. Note: save some energy for the uphill at the end or walk part way as you look at the locks. Visit the Erie Canal Discovery Center to top off the trip.|
|Redman Road, Brockport to Holley||7.6 miles round trip||Park at the Redman Road parking area on the north side of the canal, Brockport||Cycle west along the Canalway Trail to the Holley Canal Park. This scenic park has a playground, picnic tables, a pond, and restrooms, so you can relax, watch boats, and enjoy a picnic before returning.|
|Lift Bridge to Lift Bridge, 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. |
|Camillus Erie Canal Park Ride||2 miles round trip||Park at the main entrance to Camillus Erie Canal Park, Devoe Road||This is a very easy beginner bike ride. Cycle east from Sims Store Museum at the park entrance. At one mile, you'll come to the Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct. Get off your bikes and look around. You'll see that the waters of the canal are carried over Nine Mile Creek by the aqueduct, which is like a bridge filled with water. You can cycle for another mile on the trail, or turn around and head back and explore the small museum. You can also take a boat ride over the aqueduct on weekends in the summer.|
|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 Harbor to Herkimer Home||6 miles round trip||Little Falls Canal Harbor, 125 Southern Ave.||Cycle east from the Harbor for 3 miles. Explore Herkimer Home State Historic Site, home of Revolutionary War General Nicholas Herkimer. On the way back, stop at Lock 17, the highest lift lock on the canal and once the highest in the world, and explore Moss Island, a National Natural Landmark, which is adjacent to Lock 17. |
For a longer ride, you could continue cycling another 2.5 miles from Herkimer Home to the trail kiosk at Danube by the bridge over Castle Creek. The creek has a series of small ledges below the bridge and kids will enjoy wading or skipping stones in the creek.
|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.|