Looking for a great way to introduce your family to self-contained touring? Why not explore western New York and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario with a group of like-minded families? On this tour, we will travel the beautiful Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and nearby roadways, to the edge of world-famous Niagara Falls carrying all of our camping gear, personal supplies, and group gear on our bicycles, without a support vehicle. For extra fun, the Adventure Cycling team will provide kids’ pannier kits, so that the kids and adults can assemble and decorate their own panniers before the trip begins!
We’ll structure a cooking/shopping/cleaning rotation to include participants of all ages, with a trip leader to assist the younger riders. We’ll be riding loaded along 100 miles of car-free trails, with only about 30 miles of cycling on roads, which makes this a great tour for the whole family. We will be crossing into Canada at the end of the trip, so be sure to bring your passport for this top-notch international adventure!
Please note: In order to participate in our Family Fun tours adults must be accompanied by a child and children must be accompanied by an adult.
|Start Date:||Jul 06, 2014||End Date:||Jul 13, 2014|
|Start Location:||Fairport, NY||End Location:||Fairport, NY|
|Total Days:||8||Riding Days:||6|
|Average Daily Mileage:||22.7||Surface:||Paved/Dirt|
|Airport:||Rochester International (ROC)|
|Tour Leader:||Blue Hannon , James Brown||Meals:||Shared cooking|
|Physical Difficulty:||Beginner||Level of Support:||Family Events|
Fairport, New York, 4 miles. Early in the afternoon we’ll meet at a community center with an indoor water park located just outside the splendid village of Fairport and adjacent to a spur trail connecting to the Erie Canal towpath trail. We’ll set up our tents and then gather for a welcoming pool party followed by a group orientation meeting to discuss the trip details and divide up the group gear. Afterwards we’ll share a group meal, check out our bikes, and take a short shakedown ride into Fairport along the Rochester-Syracuse Eastern Trail for ice cream alongside the Erie Canal.
Fairport to Greece, 25 miles. After breakfast, we’ll pack our lunches and head out for the entire day on car-free trails. We’ll again pass through Fairport, where there’s an excellent bike shop in case anyone needs last-minute adjustments. Along the Erie Canal towpath, we’ll pass the quaint village of Pittsford and Schoen Place, a canal-side grouping of small cafes and shops. Just west of Pittsford is Lock #32, where we might catch our first glimpse of a boat passing through the lift system. We’ll re-group for lunch in Genesee Valley Park. Along the many quiet sections of the Erie Canal, you’ll find it easy to picture yourself back in time more than a hundred years, when mules pulled commercial barges along this trail. We’ll camp tonight in a town park located next to and, interestingly, below the canal.
Greece to Holley, 16 miles. Today we’ll enjoy our shortest travel day of the trip, which means plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Erie Canal and the adjacent small towns. Picture-perfect villages like Spencerport and Brockport, each with their own lift bridges connecting the towpath trail to a main street are brimming with shops, perfect for poking around on short breaks. Not far after Brockport comes Holley, with its friendly canal-side park and our camping area. The park has nature trails and a nearby waterfall that we can explore before dinner.
Holley to Lockport, 36 miles. We’ll enjoy breakfast beneath the gazebo of the Holley canal port then head back onto the Erie Canal towpath trail for almost all of today’s cycling. From Medina, where we’ll enjoy a canal-side lunch, we’ll head west, pick up groceries for dinner in Gasport, and then turn off the trail onto some quiet back roads that lead to our camping destination, the Niagara County Camping Resort, which along with the typical civilized comforts, boasts a petting zoo, mini-golf, and two swimming ponds.
Lockport to Tonawanda, 22 miles. Today’s ride is significantly shorter than the last two days’, which gives us plenty of time for off-bike activities. The day’s highlight will be a two-hour cruise that includes “locking through” and being raised 49 feet in the only double set of locks on the Erie Canal. There will also be an opportunity to tour the Erie Canal Discovery Center in Lockport. At one time, the Erie Canal was America’s premier commercial “superhighway,” bringing prosperity to much of the Northeast and Midwest. This spurred the growth of many of the towns that we visit along our route, including Spencerport, Brockport, Middleport, Lockport, and Tonawanda, which we’ll access from Lockport by way of a mix of bike paths and roadways. Tonight’s campground was originally a Girl Scout camp for nearly 50 years.
Tonawanda to Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, 19 miles. Back on the Erie Canal trail, we’ll soon reach the western end of the canal, where it joins the Niagara River. There we’ll turn northward on New York State Bicycle Route #5, a mix of bike paths and roadways, before joining the paved bike path paralleling the Robert Moses Parkway. The bike path follows a greenbelt situated between the parkway and the Niagara River, and offers spectacular river views. In a few miles you’ll begin noticing what appears to be a low cloud, but it’s actually mist coming from Niagara Falls. The bike path takes us literally to the edge of the falls. Bidding a temporary farewell to the U.S., we’ll cross the Rainbow Bridge through the Canadian border crossing station (remember those passports!), and proceed up the hill to our dorm-style hostel. We’ll prepare dinner tonight in its communal, full-service kitchen.
Layover day, Niagara Falls. Oh, so many options to choose from today! Bike westward toward the Welland Canal bike paths, or northward on the Niagara Parkway Recreation Trail alongside the Niagara River to the beautiful town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Or, take advantage of our hostel’s prime location and walk to the nearby Horseshoe Falls, and enjoy a boat ride on the Maid of Mist to the base of Niagara Falls (raincoats available). Alternatively, the Cave of the Winds walking tour offers a close-up view from behind the falls. On our final night together, we’ll celebrate at one of the many Niagara Falls restaurants and end the evening by viewing the illuminated falls.
Niagara Falls to Fairport, New York, 12 miles. After a full breakfast, we’ll say goodbye to our hostel hosts and head out for the final day’s ride, again passing the Canadian Falls and re-crossing the Rainbow Bridge into the U.S. Then we’ll rejoin the paved bike trail alongside the Niagara River and take it to the relative tranquility of Goat Island, where we can get a close-up view of Bridal Veil Falls. We will continue upstream, enjoying our final few miles alongside the powerful river, and end our ride at a small park where we’ll meet our shuttle vehicle. It will transport us and our bicycles back to Fairport, where our cycling adventure began a week ago.
"It was a lot of fun to try self -contained in a Family Fun format. Niagara Falls was a great place to ride to and enjoy."
2013 Tour Participant
"The concept of family fun, the idea that parents and kids or grandparents and grandkids can experience something together like this is great."
2013 Tour Participant