Author Topic: Connecting The Atlantic Coast with the Lake Erie (then Northern Tier)  (Read 4970 times)

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Offline iwstamp

Hi - I'll be taking the Atlantic Coast (Boston Spur) to roughly northwestern CT and picking up the Lake Erie connector with an eventual connection with the westbound Northern Tier. My question - what is the best route accross New York State to link the Atlantic Coast with the Lake Erie route (in northwestern NY).

Thanks!! ???

Offline JHamelman


New York state has some cross state routes that could be helpful. You might want to check out State Route 5 in particular.

Good luck and have a great trip!


Jennifer Hamelman
Assistant Director, Routes & Mapping

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes


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What do you think is best? Easiest? Prettiest? In addition to Jenn's link, I lived and cycled around Ithaca for many years.

In general, north of the Finger Lakes and Route 20, you have easier riding along the Mohawk River and the Mohawk Canal, but pass by (or through) several good-sized cities. South of the Lakes, it's rural, much hillier, and much prettier, especially as you get some views from the high ground across the valleys before descending into them. Small cities, college towns, vineyards, etc. Note: the valleys run N - S. Much up and down going E - W.


Offline rvklassen


New York state has some cross state routes that could be helpful. You might want to check out State Route 5 in particular.

Good luck and have a great trip!

Bike route 5 has been improved some over the years since it was first signed.  But when the signs first went up it was more a matter of wishful thinking than actually being a superior choice of roads.  I think the idea was once you put up the signage, motorists might be a little more tolerant,  and when they're improving the road they'll keep in mind that it's a designated route.

Again, the main question is what is your criterion for best.  You have two choices - either go north or south of the Finger Lakes.  Anything south of the lakes will guarantee you many more hills, some of them large.  There will be ample state campgrounds (if that's what you want) and significant quantities of state forest.  There are enough towns to provision at least once or twice daily - generally at a small to mid-sized supermarket.  Some of the climbs are hard and steep.  For example, if you want to camp at Watkin's Glen.

If you go north of the lakes, you can have a pretty much flat route from at least Syracuse onward by paralleling the Erie canal.   If you can find your way to Albany you could start following the canal there.

Less flat would be to catch the Northern Tier before it heads into Adirondack State Park, and follow that to Buffalo.  From a half day east of Rochester you parallel the canal.  So it becomes flat.  I wouldn't recommend taking the towpath, except for the paved portion from Pittsford to Greece (but the AC map does stick with it to Lockport).  Northern Tier connects with Lake Erie Connector in Ft. Erie Ontario. 

The canal route is relatively developed in the sense that you can find free or cheap camping every few hours (except passing through Rochester, which is 2-3 hours).  The Rochester portion is such that you barely notice you're in the city, unless you go off-route to find services.


Offline iwstamp

Thanks - since I'll have ample opportunity to experience copious hills - I'd say wide shoulders and flat surfaces are my most important criteria. Is the Erie canal portion paved? Or stone dust.. I will be riding a Greenspeed recumbent Trike and leaving around July 4, 2011 if that matters.

Offline rvklassen

I cannot speak to the portion of the trail in/around Syracuse and beyond.  I think there's a paved section in the vicinity of Syracuse.  I know much of it is unpaved from Syracuse to Fairport.  And there are significant portions that don't exist - where you need to follow the road anyhow.  As of last year there was contiguous trail from Newark to Lockport, primarily stone dust, but paved in most of Monroe county.

However, if you prefer paved, I would recommend following roads that parallel the canal until you get to Fairport or Pittsford.  Between those towns there is a shortish stretch of stone dust, but it is reasonably smooth.  And much of the route from Fairport to Greece is paved.  From Pittsford through Rochester, to Greece (Long Pond Road) it is paved, after which it becomes stone dust, with varying quality - meaning in some places it may be worth it for the shorter distances and in others it definitely is not.

In this thread: there is more detail on a route that will keep you near the canal, pass through all the same towns (with their opportunities for services, including, in some cases free showers and camping), and close to the ACA map.  Note both the detailed turn-by-turn and my refinement to take you back onto the paved portion of the trail. And in your case you could choose to take the towpath beginning at Fairport or Pittsford, as I already noted.  This route does a good job of sticking to roads that are either lightly travelled or have wide paved shoulders.

You can save a fair number of miles if you don't mind driving through southern Rochester, as the canal loops way south, and you can skip the loop.  It adds some climb - a bit over 100' - but it isn't steep.  It also adds some traffic, so you might consider time of day when choosing whether to cut off the loop.   The on-road route (above) makes the cut.  If crossing between 9:30 AM and 2:30 PM I wouldn't let the fact you're taking major city streets bother you.  Otherwise you may be better off taking the (paved) canal path.  It is quite flat: IIRC there are three locks between Fairport and Lockport.

We're about 12 miles off your route, and ride tandem.  So we have much the same criteria for route choice, and know this area.

Offline iwstamp

Fantastic! Thanks for the great information!

Offline jimbo

I did a west-east trip in 08 and we used the "towpath" et al from Buffalo to around Johnsburg and then back roads up to Saratoga Springs and east from there into VT, NH and landed at Wells. ME. The "canal towpath bike route" is a mixed bag of on/off the towpath. My sense was about 1/2 the time we were off the path on adjacent roads. Most of the towpath was fairly firm surface of stone dust.
Details at :  "coast to coast for conservation".  We used the NT route about 5 weeks and Erie Connector as well. There is a Erie Canal Towpath guide for cyclist that is available. It is not always 100% obvious how to access the off the canal routes, but we managed ok. ( I live in the Finger Lakes )

Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 10:36:40 pm by jimbo »