Author Topic: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail  (Read 5174 times)

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Offline jwrushman

New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« on: December 04, 2016, 09:00:27 pm »
I'm planning a trip for next summer, part of which includes bicycling from Albany NY to Niagara Falls.  For the stretch form Albany to Syracuse, NY State Bike Route 5 more-or-less parallels the Erie Canalway Trail.  Is someone familiar with these routes?  Recommendations?   I'm planning to cover 60 miles per day.  I'll have camping gear but would prefer staying in a motel.

Offline vertiganr

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2016, 11:33:45 pm »
Youneed to be careful about NYS Bike Route 5.  At times, it veers away from the river valley and climbs some pretty significant hills.  It's easy to see this even on a NYS road map.  Best to stay close to the river if at all possible.  From Fort Hunter to Little Falls (I think), the trail is stone dust, rideable but not paved.  There are probably roads other than NYS Bike Route 5 that stay closer to the river in some places, and I'd take a look at those.  Many of the towns have mom-and-pop motels, and camping is also possible at many of the Erie Canal locks.

Offline sdotkling

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 03:01:42 pm »
I just did this ride last summer, as part of a New York to Chicago ramble. I found the Erie Canal vexing. The path varies in quality, the route it follows is circuitous, and the signage stinks. The route vanishes with depressing regularity with no clue what to do. The stretch you speak of isn't quite that bad, but still...I rode Conojaharie to Lock 20 along the Canal, but abandoned it shortly thereafter, taking sparsely traveled, smooth country roads west past Lake Oneida. Approaching Syracuse got very suburban shopping mall 6-laney; not good, but I managed. I stayed to the north of the Syracuse suburbs along so-so roads, which improved the closer I got to Rochester, where the Canal improved, near Palmyra.


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Offline canalligators

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 03:15:55 pm »
Read all about it here https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=tS&doc_id=9422&v=Gw.

I highly recommend that you not use Bike 5 between Schenectady and Albany.  There is little lane space and lots of traffic.  Instead, use the Mohawk-Hudson trail, part of the Canalway Trail system.  I also recommend that you not use Bike 5 through Rochester; again, no lane space and heavy traffic.  The canal trail across Rochester is paved and a nice ride.

The canal trail is largely unpaved but improved, typically rolled stone dust.  The paved parts are the Mohawk-Hudson Trail, a stretch near Canajoharie, through Rochester and through Buffalo.  There are a few other places that are paved.

Get the Parks & Trails guide, for all the info on the trail parts.  Yes, the trail can be a challenge to follow in places.

You need to decide if you're going to go through Syracuse or around it to the north.  Going through is ok using the route in the guide book.  The advantages are that you can use the Old Erie Canal on the east, and the best canal museum is downtown.

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« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 03:17:36 pm by canalligators »

Offline jwrushman

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 07:40:49 pm »
Thanks for your input.  I'm looking forward to what other's have to say.

It looks like following the Erie Canalway from Schnectady to Lockport NY is 296 miles.  Following NY Bike Route 5 is 296.  Not much difference, and it has a few good climbs.  Thanks for your input, Vertiganer.

Canalligators, what guide book are you referring to?   I'll be checking out your link to CrazyGuyOnABike shortly.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2016, 08:16:06 pm »
Thanks for your input.  I'm looking forward to what other's have to say.

It looks like following the Erie Canalway from Schnectady to Lockport NY is 296 miles.  Following NY Bike Route 5 is 296.  Not much difference, and it has a few good climbs.  Thanks for your input, Vertiganer.

Canalligators, what guide book are you referring to?   I'll be checking out your link to CrazyGuyOnABike shortly.
About using the path rather than the road for the stretch from Albany to Schenectady... The path is much nicer, and it's paved, if a bit wrinkled in places from tree roots.

On the other hand RTE 5 is a straight shot, and fairly easy going once you've climbed the hill out of downtown Albany if you'd rather shorten the travel time. Going through Schenectady early in the AM (4-5) there isn't much traffic at all, but it starts picking up around 6ish.

On the path, once you get into Schenectady where it takes to the streets, there's signage marking the route, but you really have to watch for them.




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Offline canalligators

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2016, 10:50:59 pm »
...Canalligators, what guide book are you referring to?   I'll be checking out your link to CrazyGuyOnABike shortly.

The Parks and Trails NY book, http://www.ptny.org/publications/cycling-guidebooks/cycling-the-erie-canal.

Offline jwrushman

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2016, 06:12:41 pm »
Thanks for the info regarding the Erie Canal book.  Our county library system doesn't carry it, so I think I'll purchase a copy. 

Does following the canalway slow you down much?    I typically ride at about 14 mph without gear on my bike.  Fully loaded with camping gear and with rest stops, I probably average 10 or 11 mph, but this is on paved highway surfaces.   Did this surface of the canalway slow you down much?

Offline canalligators

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2016, 02:37:55 pm »
...Does following the canalway slow you down much?    I typically ride at about 14 mph without gear on my bike.  Fully loaded with camping gear and with rest stops, I probably average 10 or 11 mph, but this is on paved highway surfaces.   Did this surface of the canalway slow you down much?

My opinion is that unpaved, improved trails such as the EC will slow you down about one gear.  (I have heard that trikes are affected more than bikes, which makes sense as they have 50% more wheels.)  In any case, you trade off a little speed for a nice traffic-free trail.  Your call.

Rolled stone chips/dust make a decent riding surface.  Unlike dirt or gravel, it retains most of its traction when wet, though wet conditions will result in a pasty coating on your bike.  You do kick up a bit of white stone dust, so if you're towing a kid trailer you want to make sure you have a full length rear fender or a generous mud flap.  For the front wheel on a recumbent tandem too, so your stoker isn't breathing all the dust.

Offline John Grossbohlin

Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2017, 10:47:38 pm »
Thanks for the info regarding the Erie Canal book.  Our county library system doesn't carry it, so I think I'll purchase a copy. 

Does following the canalway slow you down much?    I typically ride at about 14 mph without gear on my bike.  Fully loaded with camping gear and with rest stops, I probably average 10 or 11 mph, but this is on paved highway surfaces.   Did this surface of the canalway slow you down much?
I found that when the Canalway is dry it doesn't matter... not much different from riding the road with the 700x38 tires on my bike. When it's wet, however, the Canalway is feels like it's sticky and it does slow you down. It isn't really sticky, it's soft which increases the rolling resistance. Net result of our experiences is that when it was raining we used 5 and when it wasn't we used the Canalway.