CANALWAY TRAIL:

AMSTERDAM-UTICA, NEW YORK

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated;     July 31, 2016

Length:               Amsterdam to Canajoharie; 23.7 miles

                             Canajoharie to Fort Plain (Lock 15); 4.5 miles.

                             Fort Plain (Lock 15) to Little Falls; 17.2 miles.

                             German Flatts Section; 2.2 miles             

Difficulty:           Amsterdam to Schoharie Crossing State Park; Easy. Flat, paved trail. 

                        Schoharie Crossing State Park to Canajoharie; Easy. Flat, stone-dust trail.  

                       Canajoharie to Fort Plain (Lock 15); Easy. Flat, paved trail.   

                             Fort Plain (Lock 15) to Little Falls; Easy. Flat, stone-dust and paved (in Little Falls) trail.  

                             German Flatts Section; Easy. Flat paved trail with a short stone-dust section.                   

Directions:

To start from Amsterdam/Route 5S; From I-90 take exit 27 to Route 30 north. Take your first right onto Route 5S eastbound. Travel about 2 miles and you'll see where the trail starts on your left. There is parking for only a few cars. 

To start from Amsterdam Center; Instead of turning off Route 30 north, continue underneath Route 5S and take your next right onto Erie St. This will bring you alongside the bike trail. Park along Bridge Street and head west on the trail. To return to Route 30, follow Bridge St right and then take a right onto Gilliland St for the Route 30 southbound ramp.

To start from Schoharie Crossing State Park; From I-90 take exit 27 to Route 30 north. Take a left onto Route 5S westbound. Travel for at least 5 miles? until you come to a sharp downhill curve. Route 5S bears left, you bear right on Main St (there will be signs for Schoharie Crossing State Park). If you cross over the river you went too far. Just after the trail crosses the road, turn left down Railroad St. This will bring you to the park.

To start from Canajoharie; From I-90 take exit 29 to Route 5S. Turn left (east) and look for Cunningham Rd on the right. A small pull-off is available for parking. It will be directly across from a NY DOT center. The paved section of the trail starts here and heads west.   

To start from Fort Plain (Lock 15); From I-90 take exit 29 to Route 5S. Turn right (west) and travel 3 ½ miles to Fort Plain. When you come to Route 80 turn right and follow Route 80 (Main St-Willett St-River St) underneath I-90. Turn left immediately onto Otsquago Club Rd and a parking lot is located just past Lock 15.

To start from Little Falls; From I-90 take exit 29A to Route 169. For Lock 17; Take a left down an access road just before you cross over the river. For the start of the West Shore Street parking lot; Continue along Route 169 to Route 167 and head left (west). Stay on Route 167 until it takes you back over the river. Take a left onto West Casler St, another left along Flint St and then a right down West Shore St to a parking area next to the trail.

To start from the MOVAC Ambulance parking lot in German Flatts; From I-90 take exit 30 to Route 28 and turn right over the river. Turn left on Route 5S and take an immediate left around the left side of the MOVAC building to the parking lot.   

To Start from Fort Herkimer Church in German Flatts; From I-90 take exit 30 to Route 28 and turn right over the river. Turn left on Route 5S. Continue east along Route 5S, traveling underneath I-90 and past a roadside park on your left. Just a bit further to a parking lot next to Herkimer Church on your left.

These sections of the Canalway Trail consist of both paved and stone-dust surfaces. Starting from Amsterdam, you have an uninterrupted run all the way to Little Falls. West of Little Falls a gap exists to German Flatts. A short section exists in German Flatts and then another gap exists west to Utica. See; Canalway Trail; Utica-Syracuse for the next section. East of Amsterdam the Canalway Trail is called the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway. A gap exists here as well. See; Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway North and Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway South .

The Canalway Trail is a network of approximately 300 miles of multiple-use trails across upstate New York. The trail follows the towpaths of both active and historic sections of the New York State Canal System, such as the Erie Canal and Old Erie Canal, as well as, adjacent abandoned rail corridors such as the former West Shore Railroad which was chartered December 5, 1885 , as successor to the New York, West Shore & Buffalo Railway. Called in its day "the eighth wonder of the world," the Erie Canal remains one of America's best known and enduring icons. A marvel of nineteenth-century engineering, the canal, begun in 1817, followed a path already popular to westward-moving Americans, following the Mohawk River through the Appalachian Mountains and then on to Lake Erie. Building the canal was a tremendous feat. Workers had to dig a 363-mile ditch that was 40 feet wide and four feet deep, through rocky hills and swamps and across rivers. What's more, this ditch had to slowly rise 565 feet on its way from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, which it did through a series of locks. Derided as "Clinton's Ditch," after New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, within months of the canal's opening in 1825 the doubters were proven wrong by the canal's overwhelming success. The canal gave rise to additional connecting canals, including the Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain, the last of which actually opened before the Erie Canal. For more information visit; CANALWAY TRAIL or NY CANALWAY SYSTEM

Note; Currently, as of August 2016, there is an unfinished gap in the trail between Amsterdam & the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway in Rotterdam Junction east of here.

Amsterdam to Little Falls Section:

Starting from Amsterdam/Route 5S; From Route 5S the paved trail travels west paralleling the road and the Mohawk River for the first mile before pulling away from the road. Mileage markers occur along the trail indicating the miles of the trail that pass through Montgomery County. Keep an eye out on your right side at 1.8 miles for an old cement Whistle Stop marker. You then travel below Route 30 and pass by another relic of the railroad (some type of rail sign). Travel through town and across Bridge St at 2.1 miles.

Note; If you head right on-road along Bridge St you'll pass by the old 1850 Sweet Canal Store on your left before coming to the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook pedestrian bridge. This bridge crosses the Mohawk River and contains gardens, benches and overlooks. After crossing a paved trail takes you underneath the Route 30 bridge to Riverlink Park after 0.5 miles, where you'll find a 911 Memorial, pavilion, picnic tables, restrooms and another pedestrian bridge (elevator) over active RR tracks to a parking garage atop Riverfront Center.

Note; If you head left on-road along Bridge St you'll come to the old 1894 Amsterdam Castle/Armory.

Continuing along the trail you'll pass by the Bridge Street parking lot before crossing an old RR bridge over Chuctanunda Creek and heading into the woods. Come to Queen Ann St/Smith Rd at 4.7 miles.

Note; You can take a detour from here to check out the Schoharie Crossing State Park; Yankee Hill Lock-Canal Store site. Head right down Queen Ann St/Smith Rd to the entrance on your right. You'll discover the remains of Lock 28, from the old Enlarged Erie Canal as well as the old Putnam Lock Grocery. Restrooms are located inside this building. Interpretive signs tell the areas history and picnic tables are located alongside the Mohawk River next to a dock. Not to be missed and it’s just off the trail.

Continuing along the trail you come to Main St at 6.9 miles.

Note; You can take a 0.4 mile detour from here to check out Schoharie Crossing State Park. Turn right on Main St, then left down Railroad Ave, which brings you to Schoharie Crossing State Park. Here, you'll find a museum, the remains of the original Erie Canal, picnic tables, interpretive signs, the remains of the Schoharie Aqueduct (1841) and views of Schoharie Creek.

Continuing straight along the trail, you cross an old iron bridge over Schoharie Creek. The Route 5S Bridge is to your left and the I-90 Bridge upriver. The pavement ends at 7.5 miles next to Dufel Rd, which leads to a boat launch. The trail continues as stone-dust until you reach Canajoharie. This was as far as I traveled. The stone-dust trail travels underneath I-90 paralleling Route 5S. After crossing Auries Creek via an old RR bridge the trail pulls away from the road. Travel underneath Riverside Dr at 10.8 miles and you'll pick up the old canal along your right. Cross Erie St at 12.1 miles where you'll pass through Fultonville. Cross Main St where the trail now travels between I-90 and Route 5S. Use Caution crossing Route 5S at 17.2 miles. Another old RR bridge takes you across Yatesville Creek at 17.6 miles. The trail again parallels Route 5S. Cross Lasher Creek at 18.9 miles where the trail runs below Little Nose ridge. The trail then parallels Monk Rd before crossing Sprakers Hill Rd at 21.1 miles in the village of Sprakers. Cross Flat Creek and Canyon Rd before traveling underneath Route 162. Here the trail travels between Sprakers Rd and Route 5S. After 23.7 miles you'll come to Cunningham Rd in Canajoharie and the start of the paved trail. I biked this next section. The paved trail parallels Route 5S as it heads into Canajoharie. Mile markers are painted along the trail. Looking right you'll see the large white buildings of the Beech Nut Company. After just a ½ mile the trail jogs left onto an old black iron bridge over Canajoharie Creek. You come to a signboard describing the areas history and then a tiny park with benches, information booth and an old railroad mileage marker reading NY192 (192 miles to New York City). 

This is downtown Canajoharie and if you look up on the West Hill, you'll see where the Canajoharie Academy was built in 1824, followed by a stone building in 1849. Both of these burned and were demolished to make way for the present stone West Hill School, constructed in 1892. It was in a classroom of this earlier academy that Susan B. Anthony began her career as a school teacher. She later left teaching and Canajoharie to lead the early campaign for Women’s rights. 

After crossing Route 10 the trail briefly utilizes the sidewalk. Just follow the Canalway signs. Your back on the paved trail at 24.4 miles. After 25 miles you come to a parking lot and sign board and leave the town behind. The trail travels between Route 5S and I-90, but is not loud. Cross another old iron railroad bridge over Hancock St at 27.2 miles and travel along a berm. After crossing another bridge over Otsquago Creek you come to River St and Fort Plain at 27.7 miles. A parking lot is located along Railroad Street on the left after crossing River St. A sign board is here as well. The trail then takes you underneath I-90, past some nice murals and ends at Otsquago Club Rd after 28.2 miles. Lock 15 is located directly across the road. Worth checking out. To reach the next section, there is a short 1.2 mile on-road detour. Turn left and follow Otsquago Club Rd (low traffic) past Lock 15 and the parking lot. There is a sign board located near the parking lot. After 29.4 miles you'll return to the trail which consists of stone-dust. This section is isolated with occasional views of the river and lots of bunnies. After 33.4 miles you come to Bridge Street. A sign board, benches and picnic table are located here along with a parking lot.

Note; You can take a short detour and check out a remnant of the old Enlarged Erie Canal (Lock 33) by heading right on Bridge St and then right at the sign. About ¾ miles. 

Continuing along the trail you'll emerge onto Mindenville Dr. Continue straight and take your first right which will bring you to Lock 16 at 34.9 miles. Head left alongside the canal traveling underneath River Rd. Here the trail veers left out to Fredas Way, running alongside it for about 3/4 miles before heading back along the canal. You'll cross over Nowadaga Creek at 38.6 miles. There is a signboard and picnic table located here. A great spot to go wading. You come to an intersection at 41.1 miles.

Note; Left will take you to the Herkimer Home State Historic Site. A bike rack is located here so that you may visit the site. For more information visit; HERKIMER HOME .

Heading right you'll come to another intersection.

Note; The stone-dust trail straight ahead takes you through the fields to a dock along the river.

Continuing left along the trail you'll cross Route 169. USE CAUTION. Travel past a marsh and at 41.9 miles the trail becomes paved as you head down to Fink Basin Rd. Take a right and then a left to rejoin the paved trail. This brings you up along a ridge with views of the Mohawk River down to your right. After 42.9 miles you'll come to a sign for Lock 17 in Little Falls.

Note; A great side detour here! Turning right, a switchback trail takes you down to a signboard. If you head right along the Lock 17 access road you'll find a remnant of the old Erie Canal (Lock 36) and a parking lot. Access to this lot is off of Route 169. Heading left up the access road brings you to Lock 17. You must climb (or carry your bike) up a steep set of stairs to the top of the Lock. Lock 17, at 40.5 feet is the highest lock in NY. Worth the climb. You may continue your detour by crossing over the Lock to Moss Island. A paved trail takes you past the Lock along the Riverfront Trail to a small pavilion at the end of Ann St. Only a mile from the Canalway Trail. There is a map board here and you can visit the nearby Historic Canal Place in Little Falls. For more information visit; LITTLE FALLS .

Back on the Canalway Trail and heading west, you'll travel through a tunnel after a ½ mile and emerge in a steep rock cut carved out by the railroad. You come to the West Shore Street parking lot at 43.5 miles. Follow W Shore St out to a crosswalk over Flint Ave. This will bring you to an intersection.

Note; Right takes you to Little Falls Canal Harbor, where you may loop back onto the Canalway Trail via a short on-road section. The paved trail takes you underneath Route 167 along the canal, past a playground and out to Southern Ave. Check out the massive canal gates. Travel on-road a short distance along Southern Ave to reach the Little Falls Canal Harbor after 0.4 miles. Turn right at the flagpole and a paved path will bring you to the harbor. Here you'll find an information board with Canalway map, benches and fountain overlooking the river. A short walkway along the canal travels past the Harbormaster where you'll turn left to rejoin Southern Ave. Head right on-road (low traffic) out to Route 167. Cross to Towpath Rd (Caution; No crosswalk) and you'll rejoin the Canalway Trail after 0.9 miles.

Heading left, the Canalway Trail travels between Route 167 and Flint Ave, passing by an old cement Whistle marker on your right. Come to Towpath Rd at 44.4 miles.

Note; Heading right on-road will bring you to Little Falls Canal Harbor.

The trail continues straight utilizing Erie Canal Rd (residential) for a short distance before the paved trail continues leaving Little Falls behind. After 44.9 miles the trail currently ends at Route 167.

Note; Currently, as of August 2016, there is an unfinished gap in the trail between Little Falls & German Flatts to the west.  

German Flatts Section:

Starting from Fort Herkimer Church in German Flatts; The paved trail starts next to a pavilion with picnic tables and a Porto-Potty. There is also an old section of the Erie Canal down near the canal.  

Note; Currently, as of August 2016, there is an unfinished gap in the trail between German Flatts & Little Falls east of here.

Follow the paved trail down alongside the canal and travel west. After you pass by a roadside picnic area at 0.3 miles the trail becomes more isolated as it pulls away from Route 5S. The trail briefly turns to stone-dust at 0.7 miles, then back to paved at 1.3 miles as you travel underneath S Washington St. After traveling underneath I-90 the trail follows alongside Route 5S. You pass behind the MOVAC Ambulance building and MOVAC parking lot before passing by the giant canal flood gates. After traveling underneath Route 28 the trail currently ends at 2.2 miles. This is where the Mohawk River is diverted into the canal.

Note; You may take a quick side trip from the MOVAC parking lot to check out an old train station. Follow a path out to the intersection of Routes 28 & 5S. Use the cross-light over Route 5S & E Main St and this will bring you to the old Mohawk Station. You'll also find an old caboose and freight car here. 

Note; Currently, as of August 2016, there is an unfinished gap in the trail between German Flatts & Utica further west. See; Canalway Trail; Utica-Syracuse

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