From: Lockport, New York
To: Lockport, New York
Bright and early on June 28 my Dad, Dustin, Mary and myself took off in the motor home for Lockport NY. Clyde (our trusty Cannondale tandem) was comfortably riding on the back, with stuffed panniers and our Bob trailer tucked in the shower compartment inside. Katelyn had to work, so she stayed with Grandma for the week. Don't feel too sorry for her, she had an adventure, also, but you will see. Our plan was that Grandpa and Dustin were going to spend the night with us at the campground in Lockport, and head on their way visiting colleges on the route back to New Hampshire. On Sunday, Dustin and Kate would come pick us up near the NY/Mass boarder. This would be one week of biking and camping with a hotel or two for breaks and some good hot baths. But as you will see, sometimes plans don't work out the way you envision.
We purchased a book online called Erie Canal Bicyclist and Hiker Tour Guide, by Harvey Botzman. We also by chance came across a very good Canalway trail map at one of the Route 90 rest/service areas. Although we were happy with Harvey's book, we only used his book for calculating miles for the next day ride and for a guide through Schenectady. We found that the free map was more than adequate, except for in the Rome/Utica area.
The Erie Canalway trail has three large completed trail segments; The 70 mile Erie Canal Heritage Trail (from Lockport to Palmyra), the Old Erie Canal State Park trail which is a 36 mile stretch between Syracuse and Rome, and the Mohawk-Hudson bikeway which is a 25 mile paved trail between Rotterdam and Cohoes. The three are connected by following Bicycling route 5 and some shorter trails.
We arrived at 4:pm at Niagara Family Campground north of Lockport. We were greeted by a "security guard" who was right out of the movies (he was probably even named "Billy Bob"). I'm not quite sure what he was guarding, the campground was 4 miles north of Lockport, in the middle of farm country, and the campground was not worth guarding. When visiting Lockport, we recommend finding other accommodations, something worth $ 22.50. After a very brief set up time, Mary, Clyde, and myself got on the road to find Tonawanda, and the beginning of the Canalway trail system. We picked up the trail a few miles away from the campground and rode it to its terminus in Lockport. From there we tried to use Harvey's book to get to Tonawanda and Niagra falls but couldn't understand why he wanted us to go the roads he had mapped. We had a very strong head wind heading to Tonawanda and after a few miles south of getting off the trail, and getting turned around, we just followed 31 towards Niagara Falls, instead of going south. We did not make it to the falls, which was ok because we have seen the falls before. We reached our 20 mile mark, and turned around to avoid biking back to the campground in the dark. With a tail wind, we "raced" home to our campsite. Only stopped once, back in Lockport, by a flock of Canadian geese (about 40) that were happy to be where they were, and unhappy that Clyde wanted to share the path.