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Ride Info

Ride Overview

Empire State Trail, part 1 - Erie Canal Heritage Trail

  • Arrival
  • 9/4/2024
  • Departure
  • 9/14/2024
  • Ride Director
  • Charles Feerick
  • Ride Co-Director
  • Joan Feerick
  • Driver
  • Glenn Rudolph
  • Starting Location
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Finishing Location
  • Albany, NY
  • Estimated Cost †
  • $1800
  • Deposit
  • $1000
  • Number of Riders
  • 24 (min. 18 /max. 24)
  • Space Available
  • 0
  • No. of Pending Riders
  • 0

Ride Rating


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† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $85 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.

Ride Director Comments

This ride is currently full, as all slots have been filled or are currently on offer. If you are interested in joining the tour, please submit a request to participate so that you can be added to the waitlist. It is not uncommon for spots to open up as we get closer to the ride.

Ride Description

OVERVIEW: “I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal, 15 years on the Erie Canal. She's a good old worker and a good old pal, fifteen years on the Erie Canal”

Some of us are familiar with this classic “Erie Canal Song” memorializing a time when mule barges made boomtowns out of communities along the canal and transformed New York into the Empire State. Now is your chance to experience first-hand what life was like in upstate NY during the 1800s. This tour is designed to take you back in time and showcase the beauty, history, and uniqueness of the many towns and small cities that grew up along this very important and still functioning waterway. We won’t take 15 years, but we are not going to rush it either. We’ll have 9 days of cycling; affording plenty of time to relish the many colorful canal communities and attractions along this segment of the Empire State Trail.

The Empire State Trail is composed of 3 segments: The Hudson Valley Greenway Trail (New York City to Albany), The Champlain Valley Trail (Albany to Canada Border), and The Erie Canalway Trail (Buffalo to Albany). We will be cycling the Erie Canalway for part 1 of a 2-tour pairing that will allow you to traverse all 3 segments (and a bonus segment along bike trails through Montreal and on to Quebec City). 

We will meet in downtown Buffalo, NY on Wednesday Sept 4 for an introductory social hour followed by a group dinner. You may want to consider arriving a day early to allow time to cycle along the Niagara River and visit the majestic Niagara Falls. If you have never visited the Falls, this is a must do.

We begin the tour with a scenic ride along the Niagara River before heading east at Tonawanda, the Gateway to the Erie Canal. We will end our day in Lockport where we will take a guided tour of the famous Flight of Five Locks, an engineering marvel. We will walk and boat through an underground 2100-foot water power tunnel blasted out of solid rock and experience one of the most unique tours on the Erie Canal or in all America.

From Lockport we will continue east, passing through Albion with its many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. We will spend the night in Brockport before riding on to the town of Palmyra, well known as the birthplace of the Mormon religion. One can visit the home of Joseph Smith, visit the impressive Visitors Center, and even climb Hill Cumorah where legend has it that the Angel Moroni led Joseph Smith to the golden plates. For dinner, we will share pizza and salad (and, of course, brownies) at the hotel. 

The next day we make our way to Seneca Falls which played a prominent role in the women’s suffrage movement; the Women’s Rights National Historic Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame are ‘must sees’. In addition, Seneca Falls was said to be the inspiration for Bedford Falls; the fictional town in the classic 1946 film, It’s a Wonderful Life. One can even visit the Museum dedicated to this film. We will have a group dinner and spend the night at the historic Gould Hotel.

From Seneca Falls we cycle through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and make our way past the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse. Along the route we pass through lovely canal parks including Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct Park which has been beautifully restored to its original glory. We will spend the night adjacent to the campus of Syracuse University in the Hotel Skyler.  

From Syracuse the bike path takes us to Chittenango Landing, a beautifully restored canal dry dock and partial village. We will pass many aqueducts and the awesome Lock 21 before reaching Rome, where we have the opportunity to tour Fort Stanwix (no entrance fee) with its impressive revolutionary war history. The next day we make our way to the quaint village of Little Falls and its lovely waterfront, antique mills, fun shops and dining.

The path to Amsterdam offers beautiful natural scenery as well as continued Revolutionary War History. We will spend the night at the very unique Amsterdam Castle. Our final day of cycling takes us through NY’s Capital Region along the banks of the Mohawk River. We pass through historic Schenectady and beautiful Cohoes Falls, before ending our amazing adventure in downtown Albany, the capital of NY State. We will have our final group dinner at Amsterdam Castle if possible, or at a restaurant in Albany.  Our tour ends after breakfast the following morning. 

HEALTH & SAFETY: Vaccinations for Covid are recommended, but not required. Participants are expected to come to the tour in good health and ready to ride. Prior to the final payment for the tour, an infectious disease plan will be developed and communicated. The plan will identify possible actions for dealing with any person with an infectious disease on the tour that could affect their ability to ride or the health of others in the group. The plan will include items such as isolation protocols, testing, masking, distancing, and leaving the tour.

RIDE RATING: There are 9 days of required point-to-point riding. The route is rated as 1B; essentially flat with 40-50 miles per day of leisurely riding. The path is a combination of finely crushed stone aggregate and paved asphalt, and as such 28c or even better 32c tires are strongly recommended. This is the second time this tour has been offered and all routes have been scouted in person. 

BIKES: Tandems and e-bikes are welcome on this tour. 28c or even better 32c tires are strongly recommended. For bicycle rentals, hybrid bikes specifically setup for the trail may be reserved by contacting Campus Wheelworks, 744 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo (716-881-3613). We suggest reserving the bike well in advance. All arrangements for bike rental are between the participant and the bike shop. The tour leaders cannot guarantee bike rental availability or quality.

LUGGAGE: There will not be S.A.G. service except for emergencies. We will be renting a cargo trailer to transport luggage which has limited storage. We request that each rider please limit their luggage to one medium suitcase/duffel (25 - 35lb. max) and a small backpack. 

RWGPS FILES: Electronic Ride with GPS (RWGPS) files will be posted and available for download under Ride Leader Docs. No hard copy cue sheets will be provided but participants may print their own from the RWGPS files.

WEATHER: Late summer in Upstate New York is usually comfortably warm and dry with average mid-September highs of ~75 and lows of ~55 degrees. That said, the weather is famously variable and temperatures can run +/- 10 degrees from these averages. Rain is always a possibility, so one must be prepared by bringing warm under layers and rain gear.   

LODGING & MEALS: Lodging will feature a combination of modern chain hotels (Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Best Western), and local classic inns and hotels. Meals to be provided include four group dinners (3 in restaurants and 1 pizza night in Palmyra), breakfasts most mornings, and social hours each evening. 

LOGISTICS: Arrive on Wednesday, September 4, 2024 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 10 Lafayette Square, Buffalo. It's a short 10 mile Uber/taxi ride to the hotel from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. Social hour will begin at 5:00 PM. The hotel has agreed to honor the group rate for those wishing to arrive early, or to extend their stay on the back end. Those arriving by air should consider flying into Buffalo and flying out of Albany. In the event there is insufficient space in the cargo trailer for bike boxes for those riders who will not be returning to Buffalo, the ride leaders will assist the riders in dropping off their bike box for shipping to the hotel in Albany. The cost for this shipping will be paid for by the rider. For those driving to Buffalo and leaving their car, we are working to find discounted long-term parking.  

The ride concludes in Albany on Saturday morning, September 14. Participants will need to arrange transportation back to Buffalo if they are not continuing to the BAC Empire State Trail Tour, part 2.  For the trip back to Buffalo, one can take the Amtrak train at an approximate cost of ~$60/person + $20/bike. Each train can accommodate 4 bikes.

COST & ADMINISTRATION: Estimated tour cost is $1800 per person which includes: 10 nights lodging, eight breakfasts, four group dinners, evening social hours, the cargo trailer, and the Lockport Cave tour. Electronic RWGPS filles will be provided. The cost does not include additional lodging before or after the tour, bike rental, parking fees, or the cost of transport back to Buffalo.

A deposit of $1000 is required within 2 weeks of ride acceptance. A second and final payment of $800 is due by June 4, 2024. The solo rider supplement is an additional $855. Single riders who are willing to share a room are encouraged and we will assist with finding a roommate. Due to lodging limitations rooms with two beds are limited.

SINGLES & SOLOS POLICY:  A “single” is a member who signs up by himself or herself and wishes to share a room with another participant. A “solo” is a member who signs up by himself or herself and does not wish to share a room. It is recommended that singles who want a roommate try to find their own. After receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until April 4, 2024 to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the BAC Ride Registration Fee and Payment Processing Fee) or pay the $855 solo supplement and stay on the ride. If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary. If the single finds a roommate, the solo supplement will be returned. The Ride Leader will assist by attempting to match singles who apply for the ride. Solo supplement payments need to be sent to the BAC office by June 4, 2024. Checks should be made out to “BAC” with a notation of the tour name included on the check. They should be mailed to: Bicycle Adventure Club, PO Box 23998, San Diego, CA 92193. 

CANCELLATION POLICY: The BAC Ride Registration Fee and Payment Processing Fees are not refundable unless the entire tour is canceled because the number of participants registered is less than the minimum established for the tour. Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped. The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost as a result of cancellations. If the canceling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time. If the canceling participant can't be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report are completed. If a single participant cancels and another roommate cannot be found, in addition to other costs that cannot be recouped, the canceling roommate may also be liable for the solo supplement fee of the roommate remaining on the tour. BAC encourages members to purchase trip cancellation insurance.

RIDE PARTICIPANT RESPONSIBILITY: Please remember that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants providing much of their own support. Participants are expected to come to the ride well trained, in good health and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles. All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour. We encourage you to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from the Ride Leader. While on the ride, support your Ride Leader with offers to help with various tasks such as happy hour preparation and cleanup. Please do not interfere with the ride by inviting non-participants onto any portion of the ride or tour. Please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you might have and respect the Ride Leader’s decisions.

INSURANCE: Before participating in any BAC tour, you should assess whether your medical and travel insurance coverage is sufficient. BAC maintains insurance that covers expenses related to accidents. This coverage applies when touring inside the US, regardless of your nationality. It’s assumed that members’ personal insurance will cover medical emergencies such as sudden and unexpected sickness, so these have not been included in the BAC policy. Coverage is subject to a $1000 deductible. You may want to consider personal coverage for emergency evacuation, as this is not included. The costs of treatment or quarantine for Covid and other unexpected illnesses are not covered. You should ensure that your vaccinations are up to date.

SIGN-UP: To register for this ride, use the sign-up links just above the Ride Description. After preliminary acceptance, you will be moved to the pending list and receive an email requesting you to go back to the BAC site to digitally accept the terms of the Release of Liability (ROL), and pay the Tour Deposit and the non-refundable BAC Ride Registration Fee by credit card. As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List. BAC members with questions may contact the Ride Director by "clicking" the name at the top of this Ride Description.

“…We’ve towed some barges in our day, full of lumber, coal, and hay. And we know every inch of the way, from Buffalo to Albany.”

Bicycle Adventure Club
PO BOX 23998 San Diego, CA 92193
Telephone (858) 715-9510

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