Erie Canalway Trail, Day 5

I woke up at 4:45 due to the guy next door banging things around packing up his camper to leave, and traffic starting on the road 20′ away from our tent. Eventually I got up and went to sit in the heated bathroom on my phone since I wasn’t falling back asleep.

Once everyone else woke up, I started packing things up. We also had to go down to the office to pay and see about Rebecca leaving her car there for a few days. Once we were all ready, we sat by the lake to wait for Aunt Nancy to arrive to ride with us for the day.

We were still on the detour so it was all roads this morning, and lots of hills. Still, we made good time through the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge to Port Byron for brunch at a diner.

After brunch we were mostly back on rail trail and continued to make good time through the sunshine. We took a few quick breaks on the way to Camillus, where Aunt Nancy’s car was waiting for her. There we said good bye and took a longer break to plan our route through Syracuse. Ketchup had warned us that it would take forever and the signs were terrible so I mapped it out in Google Maps. The plan was to leave my phone in my handlebar bag and be able to hear the navigation prompts.

There was new trail going into Solvay so we followed that and the trail signs, even when we got to the road and they went the opposite direction of the route I’d laid out.

Of course, the trail signs petered out, so we started heading towards the original route. As we climbed up a hill heading back towards downtown, I saw trail signs on the other side of the highway, next to Onondaga Lake. So we turned around and went back down the hill, through the underpass, and onto a beautiful paved lakeshore trail. Unfortunately, that ended at a locked gate with no way around.

So we backtracked again, trying to follow the paved trail past where we’d gotten on it in case it was a connector to where we wanted to go, but it wasn’t, and we turned around again. All the way back to the original route this time, and we resolved to follow that only, and not any Empire State Trail signs along the way.

There were actually occasional Erie Canalway bike route signs throughout the city, but it would have been nicer if those had been available from the beginning of the road ride so we’d have known not to follow the actual trail signs.

I was very stressed about getting through the road riding and back onto the trail before dark, let alone getting far enough along that we’d find somewhere to camp on state land, what I figured would be about 5 more miles once off the road. Now that we were on the correct route, we made good time, but then Jeremiah got a flat tire.

With all the recent experience, he changed the tube in record time. We didn’t time him but it was maybe 5 minutes, definitely less than 10, and we were on our way again.

It was getting chillier, but the route out of Syracuse wasn’t too bad. We saw two black squirrels and a fox in the residential area along the way.

Once we rolled into DeWitt, we had to stop to pick up a quick dinner, but the line at Chipotle was so long, it would have taken until dark just to get the food. Jeremiah proposed getting a hotel instead of worrying about rushing and finding a camp spot. He called the nearby Holiday Inn Express and they had a room so we headed over there.

After checking in, during which the desk attendant didn’t even blink when we rolled our bikes through the lobby, we changed out of our chamois and walked back out to Applebee’s for dinner.

We got back late, took hot showers, and went to bed.

60 miles today, probably at least 6 of which were unnecessary.


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  1. You would think the avid bikers in the Syracuse area could do a better job of advocating for coherent signage. You’re obviously not the first trail users who have been inconvenienced by this.

  2. Many thanks for sharing this adventure with us. Great pics. I had never heard of the Erie canal. Enjoy and be safe! e

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