There are plenty of leisurely activities to enjoy during this busy summer season, such as festivals, shows and county fairs. I encourage everyone to take some time this season to take advantage of a sometimes forgotten resource: the New York State Canalway Trail System and its more than 200 miles of recreational trails across upstate.
With its many bike trails and walking paths, the New York State Canalway Trail System provides miles of accessible green space along the banks of the canal. Gov. George E. Pataki’s vision to create an Erie Canal Greenway led to creation of many trails and paths that are accessible to residents, visitors and other individuals looking for a nationally significant historic site to learn about and enjoy. It provides another source of tourism and more recreational destinations for all to visit, making the canal a resource for more than just boaters and anglers.
This summer marks the 181st consecutive navigable season on the canal system. The most significant improvements to canal operations this year are elimination of recreational boater tolls and longer operating hours. Boaters can ride the entire state canal system without paying a single cent in tolls, something that will surely spark more tourism and recreation along the system. The longer hours of operation give users more time each day to enjoy New York’s waterways.
The state Canal Corporation, which operates the system, is sponsoring its first-ever “CanalSplash!” celebration on August 12 and 13, featuring over 60 hikes, bike rides, canoe paddles, historical tours and more. It’s expected to become an annual event.
For more information about the canal system and related special events, and to learn more about its cherished history, contact my office, call canal officials toll-free at (800) 4CANAL4 (422-6254), or visit www.canals.state.ny.us.