By Katrina Koerting / Post-Standard / link to original post
Joggers, bikers and walkers are able to add some history to their exercise along the Erie Canalway Trail in Camillus, part of the village’s Erie Canal Park.
It’s easy terrain. The flat, two-mile trail on the banks of the canal is surfaced with compact stone dust, which also allows for wheelchair and stroller accessibility. “It’s a great family place,” said Cathy Solarte of Camillus, who walks the trail about three times a week. “It’s got a great history. It’s got a museum and different markers of what life used to be like.”
Boathouses, boats — including one that used to travel the old canal — and signs showing historic pictures of the canal are scattered along the trail.
One of the featured structures is the renovated Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, a stone structure built in 1844 that once transported boats over the creek to continue their trip on the Erie Canal. The aqueduct, located about a mile into the trail, sat idle for 80 years. It was rebuilt two years ago, and is now the only restored navigable aqueduct in New York.
The trail is secluded, thanks to a canopy of trees at the start and a wooded area lining the canalway. The crunch of the stone dust under your feet, the soft chatter of walkers and the birds singing are the only noises along this stretch of the canal. At points, cars can be heard in the distance; but save for a 50-foot stretch of the trail that goes by a road and a farm, you are hidden.
The seclusion is something else Solarte enjoys. She and husband Dave have been coming for about 20 years and walk the trail together at least once a week. “I like to come out every season and see spring and the blossoms come out and the leaves change in the fall,” said Cathy, 48. “Especially when you get down where it’s more wooded. It’s like walking through a tunnel of foliage.”
The stone dust trail was reconstructed for recreation two years ago and is part of a 350-mile project to connect trails along the old Erie Canal route from Albany to Buffalo, said Fenton Hanchett, a member of the Camillus Canal Society. The Camillus section begins at Route 173 by Reed Webster Park and extends west to the Sims Store Museum, a recreated canal store.
Anglers fish on the tree-covered banks or on wooden docks along the trail that jut over the canal. There is also a wooded area with trails for hikers to venture off the stone dust path.
And there are a lot of dog walkers on the trail, because it is the only park in Camillus where dogs are permitted. Michelle Osbourne, 35, of Syracuse walks with Dahlia, her border collie mix. “It’s clean and well-maintained,” Osbourne said. “It’s a great there-and-back trail. It’s great for anything — walking, biking, jogging — I see it all on the trail. It’s good for anybody. There are no ups and downs.”
Erie Canalway in Camillus
Trail length: 2 miles (4 miles roundtrip)
Hours: Dawn to dusk, 7 days a week
Terrain: Flat, compact stone dust
Access points: Sims Store in Camillus, 5750 DeVoe Road, or Route 173 in Camillus by Reed Webster Park
This is one of the 43 trails mapped & described in the guidebook “Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.”