Author Topic: Erie Canal Camping  (Read 8795 times)

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Offline Gypsea

Erie Canal Camping
« on: April 22, 2019, 01:43:25 pm »
I found an old forum from 2016 but wondering if there's new local knowledge regarding camping along the canal. Can I expect to be able to camp at locks? Are there campgrounds relatively close to the canal? Would you say it is pretty safe to camp in these areas?

I will be riding from Buffalo to Albany leaving June 10. I am planning on 40-70 miles, depending upon what interests me and resources.

Offline EmilyG

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2019, 02:28:32 am »
Hi, we did the section of the Erie Canal from Lockport to Rochester, during the last week of July. So just a small piece of what you'll do, and not sure that our experience fits with the rest of the canal.

Yes, you can camp at locks, but the availability of water and bathrooms was problematic for us on the stretch we did. In several towns, there were nice bathrooms and facilities, but they were locked up and  you had to call a number to have someone come down to unlock it. We ended up using the fire station bathroom!  So be prepared to make some calls if things are locked up. 

 It was also difficult to get food, because the canal path travels through industrial parts of towns, not residential and grocery store type places. So getting fueled up and watered up often required detouring through towns relying on Google. 

We met some kind folks who let us camp in their backyard in Gasport, and when we couldn't find camping before Rochester we got a hotel in Rochester.   As you get into Rochester, the trail is paved. that is when the tree root bumps start. Some nice person(s) spray-paint the bumps which does help, but sometimes there are so many you can't avoid them. But you are riding through dense, green, draping vegetation for miles.  Very beautiful.

Overall, we weren't too impressed with the canal trail, because it was very hot, the trail was extremely dusty, water was hard to get, and a bunch of the trees had been cut down eliminating shade (that was a very interesting story, from the locals, of how that happened....   

The history of the canal was incredible though.

Offline sdotkling

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2019, 04:18:32 pm »
Yup, ditto. I did the Canal a couple of times over the last two years, camping at a few locks. One lock (east of Lockport but not as far as Rochester) was adjacent to a town park, so we had a bathroom, and a restaurant a couple of blocks away. Other locks were just an expanse of grass. No reason to be nervous, since there were usually people around. In the places without water, I just packed some in...and took a bath in the canal after dark. Cold, but it worked.

I also agree that the canal towpath, while fun to ride in places, can get old. Thankfully, there are plenty of parallel, quiet roads to alleviate the boredom and go faster. Check out the Chicken Riggies in Utica, a local dish, as well as the uniques Utican take on pizza (they make it upside down.)

Offline David W Pratt

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Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2019, 03:28:25 pm »
For further research, you might check out the Crazyguyonabike web site.  A search, or ten, there will yield a huge amount of info on the Erie Canal Trail.  FYI, from July 7-14, there is a supported, and, I suspect, huge, tour going from Buffalo to Albany.
Good luck

Offline canalligators

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2019, 11:46:09 pm »
...Some nice person(s) spray-paint the bumps which does help,...

You're too kind.  But even then, the stripes are hard to see if you're wearing sunglasses. 

I also repainted the arrows marking the Canal Trail (there are five trails in the area), but this year my case of paint was used up so I called the city and asked them to please repaint their own arrows.  I don't work out that way anymore so I haven't checked to see if they did it or not.

Offline Gus

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2019, 04:04:19 pm »
I lived in Rochester for 30 years. The Erie Canal was close to my house. I used to ride it all the time. I would be willing to answer any questions or let you know where to resupply.

Offline Margaret

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2019, 08:19:28 pm »
We just rode Lockport to Syracuse.  You can definitely camp at Lock 30 in Macedon.  You cannot camp at the park in Holley anymore- It is beautiful there so stop for lunch but they no longer allow camping.

Offline kamaveles

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2022, 09:00:27 am »
Unfortunately, I have never used this location for camping. I think you should get help from knowledgeable guides. They can tell you all about this location. Lately, I have preferred camping at night in the woods more. Therefore, I even ordered a 5 Modes Vont LED Tactical Flashlight. There is something romantic about this vacation. For me, the key rule is to be alone. I understand that it is not safe. However, it is the only way I can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2022, 08:43:28 am by kamaveles »

Offline sbwaxman

Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2022, 01:12:00 pm »
Just a quick note that Holley has re-opened for camping. It's just a stretch of grass, and the bathrooms (no showers) are across the road in the park, but hikers/bikers/boaters are permitted to camp there.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Erie Canal Camping
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2022, 07:08:31 am »
We did it last year in August and camped.  There are commercial campsites along the way, which is what we used. We had planned on a few lock campsites but wound up in a hotel due to heat, bugs, and thunder showers. :)  We were not really impressed with the canal when compared to the C&O and the GAP. It was very hot and there is no shade for many miles, since they cut down all the trees. Services were very limited (maybe due to COVID) and water was hard to find. The trail runs either parallel or in conjunction with other trails and the signage in places is vague and hard to follow as different areas refer to the trail by different names. West of Rochester was tough as the homeless were hanging out under the bridges and sleeping in the middle of the trail at one point. There is also a spot in Rochester (I think) were you get to a very scenic area with many paths and bridges but almost no signage or markings. We crossed back and forth over several bridges until a local helped get us back on course.

The state will send you a map and information if requested. We bike a lot of rail trails and we way over estimated the mileage that we would cover in a day and had to juggle our schedule. The detours can be quite hilly and I think the heat impacted us as well. I would plan a few less miles per day than normal if you are doing this in mid summer.
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