Author Topic: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options  (Read 1241 times)

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Offline lyngg

New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« on: February 02, 2012, 09:51:28 am »
Two friends and I are biking from Astoria to Bar Harbor this summer. We are using a variety of routes. I have a general question about the best route across New York from Buffalo to Albany. Should we take the Erie Canal trail or New York State Route 5? As to the Erie Canal trail, some of my concerns are the condition of the trail after last years flooding and the general quality of the surface for road bikes (crushed stone and tree roots). As to New York State Bike Route 5, some of my concerns are scenic value and traffic. Your advice would be appreciated.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2012, 12:38:31 pm »
Hi Lynn. Your concerns are valid. My experience there is 12 years old now, so I cannot speak to flood damage. I found the Erie Canal towpath to be slow and boring, although one very often can take parallel rural roads. The scenery is mostly rural and not terribly interesting. NY Route 5 is, in a word, industrial, passing through the major cities of upstate New York.

If your schedule permits adding a day, take a look at staying north of the NY 5/I-90 corridor. Were I to ride it, I'd head from Buffalo to Lockport and follow the Northern Tier route east to Boonville or even Blue Mountain Lake, where you can pick up the Adirondack Loop to Schenectady. The Adirondacks will have tourist traffic during the summer, but those roads are mostly excellent for cycling, with good shoulders and sight distances. Hilly to mountainous scenery, camping, motels, and supplies are abundant.

Whichever route you choose, you will find out why the ACA scouts chose the northern route.

Fred

Offline jimbo

Re: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2012, 02:49:27 pm »
Lynn..I live south of Rochester and have biked Buffalo to almost Albany on the way to finish a WA to ME trip. We left the Towpath around Johnstown to get to Saratoga Springs and Manchester VT and then east. (Ended at Wells ME)

If time is a constraint you can't beat the Erie Canal Towpath. It is flat and it can be boring at times, but the small towns add their own variety; 1/3  of it is on roads close to/parallel to the Towpath. I am not up to date on any sections closed due to flooding. General info here (http://www.canals.ny.gov/exvac/trail/index.html)http://www.traillink.com/trail/erie-canalway-trail-little-falls-to-albany-(mohawk-hudson-bikeway).aspx)

Offline jimbo

Re: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2012, 03:35:42 pm »
Opps..half of my msg was not posted. "Google" the Erie Canal Towpath closings and you may find a link to a closing dated  Sept. 11.  There was a section closed near the eastern portion and a nea -by road as well, but that was in Sept.  All in all...the Canal Path (including the on road sections) is the quickest route. I rode a touring bike with 700x28 tires and had no issue with the surface, tough it is a little slower than  a paved surface.

Offline geegee

Re: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2012, 04:04:22 pm »
I think you could take the best and paved parts of the Canal Trail (such as the Schenectady-Albany and Buffalo-Lockport sections) and use the road route where it is better (such as around Syracuse). The parts of the trail that are susceptible to flooding are the sections along the banks of the Mohawk River, easily bypassed since NY5 is parallel.

Offline indyfabz

Re: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2012, 07:40:17 am »
Hi Lynn. Your concerns are valid. My experience there is 12 years old now, so I cannot speak to flood damage. I found the Erie Canal towpath to be slow and boring, although one very often can take parallel rural roads. The scenery is mostly rural and not terribly interesting.

+1. Even with 37c tires it was a pain in some places. Ended up getting off and taking roads into Brockport. I remember the rest of it we did to be pretty boring. Eventually headed north through Mexico to Lake Ontario.

Is there some reason you want/need to go to Albany? You could just follow the NT all the way to Bar Harbor.  The trip into Canada is worth it, IMO. You pass through Ticonderoga, where you can visit the fort. And the route through VT and NH is very nice.

Offline rvklassen

Re: New York - Buffalo to Albany Options
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 12:16:33 pm »
Until last year, we lived just outside Rochester, and have ridden Rochester to Niagara Falls (Ontario) several times.  Never Buffalo.  The tow path is paved from Long Pond Road in Greece through Fairport - essentially where it is passing through the urban portion - and it is more pleasant than going through Rochester, but if you pick the wrong time of day/year, you will find the pedestrians are a significant impediment to progress.

I generally don't ride on the unpaved portions of the towpath.  There are parts that are crushed limestone, and parts that are overgrown with grass.  And everything in between.  The only reason the crushed limestone portions may be faster is if the route is more direct (which it sometimes is) than taking the parallel roads.  I don't like the accumulation of dust on the chain, resulting in the need for frequent cleaning.

5 is reasonable as you head from Buffalo toward Rochester; it gradually gets worse as you get into the urban part, and that's where it is nice to catch the towpath.   104 is actually nicer than 5 for much of the distance from just outside Lockport through the vicinity of Holley.  But you don't get the canal towns. 

There are a number of places along the canal, west of Rochester (there may be more east of Palmyra that I don't know about), where you can spend the night free, and where they may even supply showers.  Lockport is listed, on the AC map, haven't tried them; Middleport is nice, includes showers; Holley you have to get there early enough to get the code for the restrooms from someone at the visitors' center before it closes for the day.

Can't speak for anything east of Newark, as I've not ridden that part.  Be careful if you get north of the canal in Wayne county or the next one beyond that you don't find yourself going up and down the short dimension of the drumlins.  They can be steep and very closely spaced.  You get to the top and immediately you're going down the next one, and barely any time to shift gears at the bottom before the climb starts again.