Four people, four bikes but no mules — it’s going to be an adventure going the other way instead of Albany to Buffalo. But west to east is considered the better option. Downhill? Plus we don’t have to time the train at the end.
We’re heading out in early June. This is the plan.
Day 1: Drive to Albany. Park at the train station. Did we claim all the bike spots on the 1 pm Amtrak train to Buffalo? We learned on our Empire State Trail ride last year from Albany to New York City that the luggage rack doubles as the bike spot. So I am betting it will be filled with luggage by the time we board and we once again will be putting bikes in the handicapped spot. Hopefully they will be free. At least we wouldn’t then have to take off a wheel and hang each bike by the other wheel. More good news: if it’s like last year, the crew changes in Albany so it’s more than a three-minute stop and we will have time to look.
We’ll get into Buffalo in time for dinner, once we bike to our AirBnb in the Allentown section. Should we try Fat Bob’s Smokehouse?
Day 2: Explore Buffalo. By bike? Or on foot? ExploreBuffalo.org has lots of choices. Should we climb to the top of a grain silo? Or see it by boat and on foot? There’s the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugual Site, so yet another tour option. And I’d love to take a look from City Hall’s observation deck. When will Preservation Buffalo resume tours?
Taking more food suggestions. Don’t need Buffalo wings (which originated in .. Buffalo), but it sounds like sponge candy is one of those regional foods we’ll need to try.
Day 3: Buffalo to
Lockport Medina. Now we start riding for real. 51 miles. We considered detouring to Niagara Falls, but this is the one day of the week that the Underground Railroad Heritage Center is closed. And unfortunately we couldn’t move the trip up or back by a day. So instead of 50ish miles to Lockport via Niagara Falls, we are turing east at Tonawanda and ending in Medina.
Lockport Medina to Rochester. 60 50 miles. Ends with dinner at the home of an old friend who I haven’t seen in forever. Can’t wait!
Day 5: Rochester to Seneca Falls. 56 miles. This means leaving the canal for a bit, but Seneca Falls is the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement. I was at the National Parks site years ago on the Bon Ton Roulet bike ride around the Finger Lakes and it’s well worth it. We’re skipping the nice but pricey hotel next door for one two miles away, but we’ve already got a reservation for a nice dinner at Sacketts.
Got a tip this past weekend from a rider wearing an Erie Canal bike ride jersey: the quirky Alling Coverlet Museum in Palmyra. As someone who regrets not stopping for the thimble museum on my first group ride in Germany more than 30 years ago, I might have to make everyone stop for this one. Or at least go get coffee while I go in. Would they be game for a printing industry museum?
Day 6: Seneca Falls to Syracuse East/Dewitt — 49 miles — and another Airbnb. The Dark Horse Tavern is nearby — or should we go somewhere else? It feels like we’ll have quite a few ethnic options within a few miles. And what should we detour for in Syracuse?
Day 7: Dewitt to Utica. 56 miles. Several hotels in Utica are right off the trail, and downtown is a mile away. I want to stop at Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site a few miles west of Utica — a crucial Revolutionary War battle that most of us know nothing about.
I’d love to hit the Stickley Museum in Fayetteville, but given that it’s only 5-6 miles from our overnight in Dewitt, it may still be closed when we go by. Note that it’s only open a few days a week.
We also go through Rome — which oddly is where they started digging the Erie Canal. Sort of midway.
Day 8: Utica to Amsterdam. Our long day at 65 miles. That’s OK; this Amsterdam is no rival to its European namesake so we’ll take our time getting here. Maybe we’ll stop at the home of General Herkimer of Oriskany battle fame? And the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie? Its art collection goes back to the first president of the Beech-Nut Packing Co., now known for baby food.
I’ll also be on the lookout for the Pie Shed before Canajoharie, flagged in another blog. Tipster warns there are no signs and it’s not on the trail. Instead, “at Fort Plains/Lock 15, I crossed the river and rode up State Hwy 5/Main St. The Pie Shed was on that road. I rejoined the trail at Palatine Bridge.”
The fancy hotel in Amsterdam looked too fancy; hopefully the other choice is OK. I’m told Little Falls is a cute little canal town, but it would have meant another 22 miles from Utica. An even longer day from Syracuse. And then a long day the day after to Albany. We opted to divide this into three days. Hence Amsterdam.
Day 9: Amsterdam to Albany. The final 50 bittersweet miles before we drive home.
Finally, I’m told the trail has many paved segments. Where it’s not, it’s just about all crushed stone. An earlier rider says: “I think there were one or two very short sections that were kinda single track and a little muddy, but still smooth.”
Sounds good to me!