Paddling on the Erie Canal


TODAY’S ERIE CANAL, A NATIONAL HERITAGE CORRIDOR, is once again a major attraction among the many waterways to be discovered and enjoyed in Western New York. To its north is Lake Ontario, a fresh-water Great Lake known for fabulous fishing, sensational sailing, and beautiful beaches. Parallel to Lake Ontario is the 518 mile scenic driving route – the Seaway Trail – one of the first roads in America to be designated as a National Scenic Byway. South of the Erie Canal are the elongated lakes, glacier-formed hills and valleys and fabulous vineyards of the Finger Lakes Region.

Over 200 years after it first appeared, the Erie Canal encourages a variety of recreational and cultural activities on and along its route. Visitors discover that the Erie Canal is truly a four-season experience, too. Make sure you come equipped with a camera to document the quintessential 100 MUST-SEE MILES ON THE ERIE CANAL!

Year-round activities and attractions include:

  • Biking, hiking, roller-blading, jogging and cross-country skiing along the original Erie Canal towpath
  • Nature, wildlife and an ornithologist’s dream — watch for eagles, blue herons, osprey, and bluebirds that settle into trees and canalside birdhouses.
  • Shopping at clusters of charming shops, Culinary experiences at bakeries, restaurants and over a dozen craft beverage centers including breweries, wineries, distilleries and a meadery.
  • Cultural activities such as visiting historic sites, museums, galleries and participating in creative workshops
  • Geo-caching

As soon as the water flows from mid-April to mid-October, activities include:

  • Canalside festivals and concerts
  • Narrated cruises on tour boats such as the Sam Patch (Pittsford) or Colonial Belle (Fairport)
  • Boating, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding -bring your own or rent from a local outfitter!
  • Hydro-cycling rentals from Pedal & Paddle in Medina
  • Canal boat rentals for extended cruising from Erie Canal Adventures in Macedon
  • Competitive rowing at Genesee Waterways Center
  • Fishing for bass, pickerel, walleye, pike, catfish, carp, yellow perch, and sunfish

Kiosks and interpretive signs provide interesting stopping points as well as plenty of parks for family picnics along the canal’s shoreline. Yet perhaps most captivating of all are the working canal locks, where people gather to watch a procession of boats rise and fall to the rhythm of carefully controlled waters. This is your “ticket” for a wonderful voyage—by land and by water—along 100 must-see miles on the Erie Canal. Read about the many attractions, events and experiences these miles have to offer, then enjoy your journey!