Trails

About the Canalway Trail

Experience the hundreds of miles of the Canalway Trail tracing historic towpaths, where mules once pulled boats through the Canal waterways, and follows both abandoned and active rail corridors that arose to offer a faster travel alternative across the state. With beautiful scenery and welcoming flat terrain, whether you're a cycler, hiker, jogger or outdoor enthusiast, the Canalway Trail has something for everyone.
Cyclists enjoying a ride along the Erie Canal in Ilion, NY during the Cycling the Erie Canal event on the Empire State Trail.

The Canalway Trail Today

The Canalway Trail is a network of 423.7 miles—consisting of two major multiple-use trails that follow the towpaths (walkways once used by mules to pull canal boats), active and historic sections of the New York State Canal System plus adjacent abandoned and working rail corridors.

The Erie Canalway Trail extends 360.3 miles from Buffalo to Albany linking the cities of Rochester, Syracuse and Utica. The Champlain Canalway Trail, the other major portion, is 63.4 miles long and goes north from Waterford (just above Albany) to Whitehall, along the Champlain Canal.

The Canalway Trail is part of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, the longest multi-use recreational trail in the nation extending north from New York City to Canada, including the Champlain Canalway Trail, and west from Albany to Buffalo via the Erie Canalway Trail.

Recreational Opportunities

The Canalway Trail is a great, long-distance cycling destination and an ideal close-to-home recreational resource for cycling, walking, jogging and other types of seasonal trail activities. Distinctive signs mark the Canalway Trail route and make it easy to find.

Trail Amenities and Facilities

Trailhead parking and interpretive kiosks with historic information about the Canal System, picnic tables and benches, bike racks and fix-it stations are located at many points along the trail.  The trail surface is level and is mostly paved, with some stone dust, gravel and natural surfaces. Parts of the trail use local streets.

Visiting the Trails Today

The Canal Corporation has collaborated with Parks & Trails New York (PTNY), a 501(c)(3) organization and leading statewide advocate for parks and trails in New York State, to provide this interactive Trail Map and itineraries.

Experiences On the Trails

Scenic bike ride alongside the canals during the Brockport Kayak & Cycling Accessible Excursion. Enjoying outdoor activities with accessibility in mind, perfect for individuals of all ages and abilities.
A serene view of foliage and the Canalway Trail near Lock E 32 of the Erie Canal in Pittsford, NY. A person rides an electric skateboard while two others walk along the trail, surrounded by vibrant autumn colors.
wo happy cyclists, one wearing a green shirt and the other wearing a black shirt, ride bicycles along the scenic path at Bellamy Harbor. The cyclist in front smiles as they pedal, with buildings and trees in the background.
Group of people with adaptive bicycles at Clarkson, New York, during the Brockport Kayak & Cycling Accessible Excursion. A group stands proudly with their specialized bikes, ready for an inclusive outdoor adventure.
A joyful cyclist with a bright smile rides a bicycle along the Erie Canal bike trail, surrounded by lush greenery. They are wearing a white helmet, a navy blue top, and black shorts, exuding happiness as they pedal.
Cyclists enjoying a ride along the Erie Canal in Ilion, NY during the Cycling the Erie Canal event on the Empire State Trail.
Group of cyclists resting by the canal during the Weeklong Cycling the Erie Canal event in Ilion, NY, on the Empire State Trail, with a boat passing by in the background.

Trail Etiquette

Review essential trail etiquette to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all trail users.

  • Trail users should keep right - please remain in your lane of travel and be courteous to other trail users.
  • Pass slower traffic on their left; yield to oncoming traffic when passing.
  • Bicycles yield to pedestrians.
  • Bicyclists must call out or use bell to give a clear warning signal before passing.
  • Respect adjoining property - please always stay on the trail.
  • Access to the trail through adjoining private property is strictly prohibited.
  • Keep your trails clean and carry out your garbage and recyclables.
  • Pets are allowed on the trail and must be always leashed and under control. Leashes cannot exceed five feet.
A group of people biking and walking along a lush green trail in Waterloo, NY, enjoying outdoor activities near the Erie Canal.
Drone view of cyclists participating in the Weeklong Cycling the Erie Canal event on the Empire State Trail in Ilion, NY, showcasing scenic lakeside biking route.

Safety and Rules

The Canalway Trail is a beautiful outdoor space freely open for public enjoyment. We recommend planning your trip in advance, watching regional weather conditions, visiting Canal Trail Alerts, and practicing trail etiquette for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Scenic pathway through lush green park with trees and sunlight filtering through leaves, perfect for nature walks and outdoor activities near Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Hours & Speed Limit

Open from Dawn to Dusk

The Canal Corporation-owned segments of the Erie and Champlain canalway trails are open for use from dawn to dusk.

15 MPH Speed Limit

Canalway Trail users must abide by the Trail’s 15 mile per hour speed limit, unless otherwise posted.

Trail Use Rules

  • Class 1&2 E-bikes, those that are not capable of peddle-assist beyond 20 mile per hour, are allowed when equipped with fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power.
  • Owners are responsible for cleaning up their pet's waste and must have a waste pick-up device or bag with them when using the Canalway Trail.
  • Parking shall be limited to designated locations.
  • Carry-in / Carry-out - Waste receptacles are not provided at all trailheads and/or lockhouses.
  • Camping is permitted only at designed sites along the trail (lock locations). Please refer to our camping page for details and rules.
  • No open fires or collecting of firewood is permitted on Canal property.
  • Fires for cooking should be limited to Corporation provided charcoal grills or camping stoves.

Prohibited Uses

The following are prohibited on Canal Corporation Property and/or the Canalway Trail:

  • Smoking
  • Hunting
  • Horseback riding
  • No motorized vehicles, including:
    • All-terrain vehicles
    • One-wheel, electric skateboards
    • E-Scooters, which are motorized or powered scooters having two in-line wheels and require the user to stand and balance on the scooter
    • Class 3 E-bikes, those that provide peddle assist propulsion beyond 20 mile per hour
    • Snowmobile use unless permitted through the Canal Corporation’s Real Property & Permits Department. Further info at Permit Info.
People walking and biking along the scenic lakeside trail in North Tonawanda, New York.
Smiling man standing in front of a colorful banner promoting the Canalway Challenge, with text 'Discover all you can do along New York's canals!'

Canalway Challenge

The Canal Corporation and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor present the Canalway Challenge, inviting participants to set personal mileage goals along New York's 524-mile Canal System and 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail. Activities include cycling, paddling, running, hiking, rolling, or walking. Register online, track progress over the summer, and receive a certificate, bandana, and mileage decal upon completion.

Related Information

  • Learn about the Canalway Adopt-a-Trail and Water Trail Stewardship Volunteer programs.
  • The NYS Canal Corporation offers 18 Cycler-Hiker-Boater Campsites along the Canalway Trail and waterways. 
  • Stay informed on Canalway Trail alerts for the latest updates regarding trail conditions, closures and safety.
  • Discover more about our community engagement efforts, including 'On The Canals' and partnership programs.
  • If any type of work or event is proposed on Canal Corporation-owned trails, a permit maybe required. Before starting work or planning an event, contact the Canal Corporation’s Real Property & Permits Department.
Paddle for Paws event at Minekill State Park, Schoharie County, featuring a woman paddleboarding with her dog. Enjoying outdoor activities while supporting a charitable cause for animal welfare.

Paddling the Canalway Water Trail

The New York State Canalway Water Trail is a great destination for paddlers, featuring over 125 public access points along the 524-mile Canal System.