The following is a guest post submitted by Ryan Green.
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In this third piece exhibiting Rochester’s bicycle trails, we will be returning to the Erie Canal Heritage Trail. Click HERE and HERE to see parts one and two, respectively. This time, we will be heading westbound towards Brockport. Although there is not much of a net elevation change between downtown and Brockport, it feels a bit more hilly than the eastbound trail. As we will see, the towns and hamlets we will encounter on this western route have a different character to them than the ones on the eastern trail…
This route is just about 45 miles from the head of the Genesee Riverway Trail entrance downtown (by the subway) to downtown Brockport and back [View Map ]. It is persistently asphalt until around the town of Greece, where it is mostly finely crushed stone between there and Brockport, apart from paved portions around Spencerport and Brockport.
We start off at the same place we did in the first photo tour, at the Genesee Riverway Trail entrance just south of Dinosaur BBQ, and head south on the path to the Genesee Valley Park. Alternatively, we could have begun from the parking area near Corn Hill Landing, on the opposite side of the river, and head south on the west bank Genesee Riverway Trail, taking care not to cross any bridges until we pass the park near the Genesee Waterways Center. The West Bank Genesee Riverway Trail south of the city and Genesee Valley Greenway Trail will be showcased in detail in a later piece.
Taking the trail from the Rochester Subway entrance and heading south, we again encounter the Genesee Valley Park. To get to the Westbound Canal Trail, we need to cross both the Genesee River and Erie Canal, so this time we will need to cross a bridge at the park. Alternatively, we could have crossed to the west bank (Books Landing) at the trail bridge at the University of Rochester.
We take a right and cross at the first bridge we see at the park. The junctions are well marked.
We cross the bridge and take a look…
…to the south. The boats and barge crane visible here are used to maintain the canal a proper depth as it crosses the muddy Genesee River.
…and to the north. The building on the left is the Genesee Waterways Center. After crossing the bridge, we take a left.
There are additional signs here to help us along.
We get a closer view of the canal equipment and are treated with a view, through the trees, of the Mary Jemison tour boat heading back to port at Corn Hill Landing.
We hang left and soon cross the bridge over the canal.
We look westward and see an old train bridge and a kayaker enjoying the canal.
…And eastward to get a great view of the junction of the Genesee with the canal. To the left we see the Genesee, heading north, and right/straight we see the eastbound section of the canal.
After we cross the bridge, we take a right on the trail paralleling the canal, never crossing under I-390. The above image is shown looking towards the correct path.
Looking back, we see a sign indicating the Riverway, Greenway, and Canalway Trails.
The path heads uphill. It is high above the canal, and doesn’t provide much of a view of the water, yet. It has a more industrial feel than the eastbound trail. We pass the western guard gates and an old railroad bridge.
The view above shows the guard gates from a kayaking trip.
The path hugs the ramp at the I-390/Brooks Ave interchange and heads downhill a bit.
We then enter a nice, straight forested area.
We cross a couple of railroad tracks and reach Chili Ave, which has a signaled crosswalk for trail-goers.
We are rewarded with a very wide path/road (closed to cars) and head uphill in a winding fashion.
After quite a tiring uphill, we take a rest at the top, on a bridge over the railroad tracks.
Looking East, we can see the city in the distance. We are high over the tracks, and even higher over the canal.
We enjoy the downhill, but have to stop soon to cross Buffalo Road.
We pass alongside some defunct railroad tracks before heading under Lee Road and Route 390.
Unfortunately, many of the signs in this section suffer from vandalism.
This section is quite nice and is known as the “Deep Cut.”
We reach a pleasant straightaway with some fine residential units (The Ingress) and a park. We are finally nearly level with the canal.
We reach a nice little area (which for some reason, I didn’t get a picture of from far away) near the Gates/Greece border with benches and historical signage. The amount of vandalism on the signs is disgraceful, however. Some people have little respect…
This guy had the right idea: Right after the little rest area, at 9 miles on this route, head under Long Pond Road, and take a left to get on the road to cross the canal and connect with the trail on the other side. The trail on the southern/western side of the canal eventually ends, and the trail picks up on the opposite side. I knew this, but my original plan was to cross the canal further west, at Elmgrove Road.
This is what the trail looks like if you don’t cross over at Long Pond: rocky and muddy. On the opposite side of the canal, it is a nice finely crushed stone and paved at one or two points (I found this out on my returning trip). Stubbornly determined to stick with my original plan, I continue on.
Despite the not so ideal path, it feels nice to finally be close to the canal.
I then follow the sign through a marina (Allen’s Canalside Marine) to cross the canal via Elmgrove.
Directly on the other side, we spot a nice sight besides, of course, the asphalt path – though this asphalt turns into finely crushed stone soon afterwards: Henpeck Park. The park has restrooms and signage describing distances on the trail and local history. Some more sights along the way to Spencerport…
Surprisingly nice murals by the park.
Here we see the waterfront area of Greece Canal Park.
Every once and a while you may run into construction on the canal.
As we go further and further, the industrial, utilitarian feel of this trail fades into a rural one of vastness and serenity. This route seems worth it, after all.
After a 14.5 mile journey, we have arrived at Spencerport! Below are some images from around town. It has a nice little canal park (with a water fountain), Towpath Park. Like many other places, the town is well-marked, easily navigable, and friendly to trail-goers.
I was pleasantly surprised by this village. It is “Someplace Special” indeed. It just shows that even though you may research a place, view maps, and see pictures, you don’t really experience it until you actually go there. 😉
We then continue on, to Brockport!
I didn’t know the trail had similar programs to the Adopt-a-Highway Programs of the roads before.
Some more images on the way to Brockport. We reach a neat section, where the trail is high above a nearby road. We put some energetic, uplifting music on our mp3 player and power through!
We have reached Adam’s Basin, a tiny, unincorporated hamlet between Brockport and Spencerport on the canal. This area has a nice rest stop with historical information and maps. The lift bridge here, merely a few feet above the water, is similar to those in Spencerport, Brockport, and many other canal towns between Rochester and Buffalo. Click here for a nice photo tour of the entire canal
And WE REACH BROCKPORT! Let’s enjoy this town awhile and take a nice long rest.
Here are some images around town. This is a very friendly town for those journeying on the canal. Like Pittsford, Fairport, and Spencerport, the first time I was here was via cycling from downtown Rochester, and I feel like that helps me appreciate a place more than driving through (or to) the town.
I decided to get food at the Stoneyard Bar & Grill, at One Main Street. I met an elderly couple, who mentioned a place with a great deal on a BBQ meal that day, and I mentioned a place I heard was one of the best at the Brockport waterfront. It turns out we were talking about the same place! Locals were very friendly, interested to hear of my journey west, and seemed eager to explore more of the canal trail for themselves.
After a nice full meal and a couple glasses of beer, I venture a bit more around town.
Brockport has a free bike sharing program! How cool is that?!
I then head just a tad further west, to SUNY Brockport. To get there, we head south on Main Street and take a right a short time later, at Monroe Ave. Attending a SUNY school (Buffalo), and knowing a lot about another (Albany), I was eager to see this one. It seemed like a decent campus, but I think I saw 1 person in the 20 minutes I was there. (To be fair, it was on a weekend of the summer).
And here is the furthest west my bike has been from Rochester, at just over 25 west of the city. Partly proud of my distance, partly regretting this decision, and partly determined to get back before nightfall, I peddle back. I averaged a much faster speed on the way back. It felt fast to me, but you’d be surprised how fast many people ride on the trail. Let’s go!
Images from the trip back to Rochester…
Snick Hawkins Park in the town of Ogden: A hidden little park with picnic tables and charcoal grills that I didn’t showcase on the journey west.
We reach Spencerport, at 34 miles, with the sun clearly setting. We deserve another rest, though. Let’s relax for a few minutes.
…And give them thanks for their nice park.
A yard sale and property advertised along the canal trail? I am often surprised as to what I find on this path.
This is the junction lock, complemented by a nice tiny rest area, which I missed on the way to Brockport, since I crossed over the canal west of here. It was only used for a few years. Its purpose was to connect the original Erie Canal to the Barge Canal. It was no longer needed upon the completion of the Barge Canal in 1920.
The trail on this side of the canal picks up on the opposite side of the canal. Learning my lesson from the westbound trip, I cross at Long Pond Road.
People enjoying the canal at Ingress Park.
The railroad crossing near Chili Ave.
Let’s take this moment to thank Waldo J. Nielson. Without him, our journey would not be nearly as pleasant!
We have survived the journey! Now time for a good stretch, bath, and a few drinks!
This route was the longest one I have done, yet (I ended up going just a bit over 50 miles). But due to proper physical preparation, hydration, stretching, and pacing, I was hardly sore! (The worst part is your rear-end).
Of course, you can do this route in much shorter segments. Some parking areas are: Lee and Trolley Boulevard (maybe), Henpeck Park, Spencerport, and Brockport. When going on long cycling trips, always make sure you have more than enough water, lighting (in case you end up not being able to get back before dusk), and ideally, tire/tube repair kits and a small, portable pump. Also make sure you have a backup plan: knowing people or a taxi company that can ride you back if need be.
All of the routes I’ve shown so far have RTS bus lines near them (most within 3/4 mile from any part of the path), allowing a stranded biker and bike to return to the city for $1.
For more info on the Erie Canal Trail (and others) visit Rochester Trails Stay tuned for more adventures! Now get out there and experience the fun for yourself!
About Ryan Green:
Tags: bicycle path, bike path, Brockport, downtown Rochester, Erie Canal, Erie Canal Path, Erie Harbor Apartments, Genesee River, Genesee Riverway Trail, Genesee Valley Park, Ryan Green, Spencerport, SUNY Brockport, The College at Brockport: State University of New York
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 29th, 2013 at 5:33 pm and is filed under Reader Submitted Stories, Rochester Destinations, Rochester Images, Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Exploration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.