Here are three great interactive maps, one from NYS Canals, one from the National Park Service, and one from Parks & Trails NY, showing different info.  For a 345-page PDF with description of all NYS Canals properties, click here.

Canal Tours

The Westbound Run covers from Waterford NY on the Hudson to Oswego NY on Lake Ontario.   Links for each leg taking  you across can be found below.

Leg 1 Waterford

Leg 2  The Flight of Locks

Leg 3  Crescent Lake to Rotterdam

Leg 4  Lock E-9 to E-13

Leg 5  The Noses to Little Falls

Leg 6  Little Falls to Marcy

Leg 7   The Summit Level

Leg 8  E-21 to Three Rivers

Leg 9  Three Rivers to Minetto

Leg 10  Three Locks down to Lake Ontario


The Eastbound run covers from Lake Erie back to Three Rivers Junction, where we link back to the end of Leg 8 above.   I chose to enumerate 1W, 2W, with “W” as in westerly, i.e., from the west.  Adding an E might be confusing given the designators E-10, E-11 . . . for individual locks.

Leg 1W  Lake Erie to Lockport

Leg 2W  Lockport to Brockport

Leg 3W  Rochester Stretch

Leg 4W  Henrietta to Newark

Leg 5W  Lyons to Montezuma

Leg 6W  Watkins Glen back to the Junction

Leg 7W  Seneca River to Syracuse

Leg 8W  Closing the Circle


Bike Tour

Here’s an interactive cycling map that attempts to indicate closures and detours.

Leg 1  Tonawanda to Albion

Leg 2  Albion to Newark

Leg 3  Newark to Camillus

Leg 4  Camillus to Rome

Leg 5  Rome to Palatine Bridge

Leg 6  Palatine Bridge to Schenectady

Leg 7  Schenectady to Waterford


In late spring 2021, I took a ride on Colonial Belle from Seneca Lake to Palmyra.


I welcome your input.

Putting these virtual guides together made me realize I’ve already done versions of this like these:

New York City to Chicago 2019,    Random Ships Along the St. Lawrence 2019,   Chicago Bound 2018,   Lake Loop 2018,   Narragansett Bay to Indiana 2017,  and a month in Rio state Brasil here and here.

There’s a great organization devoted to the history of the canal:  Canal Society of New York, which holds two conferences a year.

Interesting reading on the current state of the NYS Canals can be found in the Reimagine-the-Canals Taskforce Report here.


Boom and Bust:  America’s Journey on the Erie Canal

Here’s an excellent discussion of the documentary by some of the folks associated with the documentary.


For now, let me just add a book list as a guide to this transit on the Erie Canal.  I’ve read dozens, but for various reasons, these are among my favorites.

Peter L. Bernstein.  Wedding of the Waters:  The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation

Jack Kelly.   Heaven’s Ditch:  God, Gold, and Murder on the Erie Canal

Michele A. McFee.   A Long Haul The Story of the New York State Barge Canal

Michael Riley.  Bridge Dams on the Mohawk

Carol Sheriff.  The Artificial River:  The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862


Then, parts of these books have an account of a transit.

William Least-Heat Moon. River-Horse:  The Logbook of a Boat Across America

Nathaniel Stone.  On the Water:  Discovering America in a Rowboat

And of course, a navigation guide, which gives

directions like these.


-Will Van Dorp, May 2020


an interesting documentary on the Black River Canal can be seen here.

check out a documentary of the Morris Canal here.