Mock-Triathalon on the Erie Canal

Planning a mock triathlon where I’ll do some combination of kayaking (~15-17 miles) then biking (~15-17 miles) then hiking (~8 miles). I’d like to do it on the Erie Canal since the waterway is consistent, supportive from the numerous lock towns and put-ins, and there’s a towpath that runs along it. I’ve never paddled the Erie Canal and I’m learning much from the website that details all you need to know about it.

What I’m curious to know is, can you portage through any of the locks? It’d be fun to do it, but since I’m planning a long day, I don’t need to spend 15-20 minutes locking through every time.

Also, can anyone recommend favorite sections of the canal between Rochester and Syracuse?

Thanks in advance!

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Sounds like a good time! Don’t have any info but if it fits my schedule I’d do it!

Avoid paddling the part between E25 (Montezuma/May’s point) and E30 (Macedon). There’s 7 locks in that 33 mile stretch and six of the 7 come in pairs, one right after the other. Also, keep in mind that there’s no towpath along the canal east of Lyons.

There are docks along the tow path on either side of lock E32 in Pittsford. There is also a whitewater park at E32 made out of the lock spillway and a kayak shop to check out. And there are landings in the village of Pittsford with places to eat and drink and parking. That makes it a good starting or ending point. There is also a canal park with a boat launch and parking at E30 in Macedon. The launch is on the upstream (West) side of the lock. There’s 16 miles between E30 and E32 and there’s no E31 in the middle. So you can get your distance in without using or portaging any locks, and with easy access and parking at both ends.

It’s 18 miles between Macedon and Lyons. That could be your bike route. The towpath is nominally gravel on that stretch and lightly traveled so you won’t be dodging as many walkers. But there are a couple on-road stretches between Newark and Lyons. Then it’s about 7 miles east on the trail to Clyde. This section of trail follows the old Erie canal route, not the present canal, and then the last mile into Clyde is on Rt 31.

So that’s one option: Grab breakfast in Pittsford, do the kayak to bike change in the park at Macedon, get off the bike at Lyons, and finish in Clyde.

Or, if you want to go in the opposite direction, you could start in Lyons, do the bike first, then the paddle, and then run 7 miles on paved towpath from Pittsford to Genesee Valley Park in Rochester.

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Thanks @RedMC ! This is immensely helpful. Rough plan at the moment is launch from GVP and end around east of the Thomas Creek Wetlands Walk. I like your suggestion of anchoring it around Pittsford; the guidebook I just got in the mail praises all of those highlights.

I’m just glad you read it. I grew up in Fairport and last visited a couple summers ago.

Note that if you paddle between Genesee Valley Park and Pittsford, you will have to deal with locks E33 and E32. You can portage around E32 if you want, there are docks along the towpath about a half mile apart on either side of the lock. But I don’t think there’s an easy way to skip going through E33.

The other word of caution is that the canal bank is all rocks along the Thomas creek wetland walk you mentioned, with no place I can think of to get out. There are some private docks on the other side, but you’ll need permission to go through somebody’s back yard to get to those. Further east, there is a walking trail under the power lines along the south side of the canal, with trail head on Lyndon Rd. I’ve never walked it, but the south bank on that stretch is much less rocky and there may be a suitable landing. You would have to scout it in advance.

If not there, the Fairport Yacht Club has a dock and launch at Wayneport in the remnants of the original canal. That’s about halfway between Fairport and the canal park in Macedon. It might be a bit too far if coming all the way from GVP. Or you could cut it short and get out at the boat launch in the village of Fairport.