Posted by: David Giacalone | August 20, 2010

new signs lead to the Erie Canalway Trail

. . . . 

– Erie Canalway Trail sign at 208 Union Street in the Stockade –

While out with Sylvie Briber Wednesday afternoon (August 18) taking photos of a few houses that will be part of the 2010 Stockade Walkabout, I saw the above signpost for the first time, in front of 208 Union Street.   It reminded me of my encounter last summer near the Grog Shoppe with the sign announcing the “end” of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway (see our posting) — which is to say, I was again unsure about the meaning of the sign, which shows a stylized boat of some sort on water, and about the nature of the “trail” in question.  I was also curious about signage that stresses the preposition “To” so strongly rather than the logo that should have been the focus of the message.

[As always, click on a photo for a larger version.]

So, I decided to follow the arrow and see where it led me.

Heading east on Union St., I found:

. . . an identical signpost at the train trestle . .

. . . and this one pointing north toward Little Italy and N. Jay St.

. . then, past South St. a sign pointing east: 

. . . which, turns out to be finally sending us off-road to a “trail” . .

. . .

. . .

That’s right, the Erie Canalway Trail signs here in downtown Schenectady are in fact pointing to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail.  Now, it is quite possible (maybe even likely) that I am a lot farther out of the loop than most members of the public who might be interested in biking and hiking and “canalway” trails.  But, I bet there is quite a large crowd that is unaware of the particulars concerning the Erie Canalway Trail, and of its connection with the local and State bike trail system.

In fact, a lot of bikers or potential bikers traversing our Stockade streets would surely want to know more about the connection of the Erie Canalway Trail [“ECT”] to biking.   So, I’ve done a little digging and learned that ECT is a program of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, which “encompasses New York’s canal system and the communities that grew along its shores.  It’s a place with stories to tell, great works of architecture to see, history to be learned, and hundreds of miles of scenic and recreational waterway and trails to explore.”  [update: In the first Comment below, “walbany” from Parks & Trails New York notes that “The Erie Canalway Trail is not really a project of ECNHC”.  I am seeking further clarification as to who owns or supports the local trail.  See the article at p. 24 of American Trails Magazine, Summer 2009, for more information on the ECT.

Of course, the Corridor is overseen by a Commission, and:

“The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commission and staff collaborate with communities and organizations to preserve and interpret our heritage, invite visitors to explore what makes us unique . . .”

Indeed, the Commission has the rather ambitious mission to “ensure a vibrant future for the 2.7 million New Yorkers who call the Erie Canalway home” — whether or not we know we’re living in the ECNH Corridor, much less calling it home.  The Mohawk-Hudson Valley (from Albany to Rome) is one of the regions that comprise the Corridor (learn about the region here). You can find a lot more information about the Corridor and the Commission’s plans and resources, at the ECNHC website, and at Parks & Trails New York, which is in partnership with the NYS Canal Corporation and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and which explains that it is:

“working to complete what will ultimately be a 524-mile continuous trail along New York’s historic Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca, and Champlain canals. Today, the Erie Canalway Trail is more than two-thirds complete. This multi-use recreational trail complements several state, federal and local efforts to reinvigorate the historic canal corridor.”

signage heading south on N. Jay Street toward South St.

Parks & Trails and the Corridor Commission should, I believe, be trying harder to get the Corridor notion and its programs into the public consciousness.   For example, despite the failure to link the Erie Canalway Trail concept more directly to biking, it appears that biking is an important aspect of their push to increase tourism across the Canalway.

For example, see the 28-page brochure, “Bikes Bring Busniness Guide: A Guide for Attracting Bicyclists to New York’s Canal Communities” and Cycling the Erie Canal, a 135-page guidebook.   According to PTNY, the book, which sells for $19.95, is “An indispensable resource for dedicated cyclists planning to bike across the state or the casual rider looking to take the family out for a couple of hours. Great for walkers, hikers, in-line skaters, boaters and auto travelers, too.”

The Corridor Commission knows the importance of good signage, as it declares that

“Among the ways to link distinct communities and sites in the Corridor is through the use of signs. A consistent message, consistently presented dramatically improves the quality of the visitor experience.”

So, I’d like to suggest they make the bike-hike connection a lot clearer when promoting the Erie Canalway Trail — perhaps, by using the universal bike symbol or including the Mohawk Hudson Bike Hike Trail sign on posts that display the ECT logo.

Meanwhile, if you’re heading west through or out of the Stockade, you’ll also see Erie Canalway Trail signs.  For example, in front of First Reform Church and at the corner of Church and State:

. . .

They are surely sending us toward the Western Gateway Bridge and the exit leading to the Mohawk-Hudson bike path.  No matter what you call the trail, have a good bipedal time, and let your friends know about the Erie Canalway.

p.s. By the way, the Canalway is having a photography contest.  Hurry, the deadline is September 9, 2010.


  1. Thanks for your post. Yes, the local trail is part of the Erie Canalway Trail. Some clarification is in order, though. The Erie Canalway Trail is not really a project of ECNHC, although they certainly do good work. Of the entire corridor, about a third is owned and managed by the NYS Canal Corporation, another third is owned and managed by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (often just called “State Parks”), and the rest is owned by multiple towns, cities and counties. This diversity of ownerships is one of the major challenges to completing the full trail. Parks & Trails New York is working to complete the trail (now about 75% off-road) through its “Close the Gaps” campaign, and we would welcome the help of everyone. To learn more about the trail, read the article on p.24 of last summer’s American Trails magazine at

    • Thanks for the clarification, “walbany.”. If not a project of the Corridor, whose project is the Trail and who owns the Schenectady segment? I would like to make sure my information is fully and accurate.

  2. Why does the canalway not follow the canal? Instead of improving the pedestrian intimidating and business waning boulevard that is the old canal city hall ensured that the canalway passes as far around the canal as possible and through some business districts in Schenectady. Another myopic misuse of funds and a disservice to the canalway.

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