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Old Erie Canal - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip

Report Type: Destination Report
Nearest City: Syracuse, NY
Difficulty: Easy

Description:

I made my first visit to the canal this evening after work. I put in at Cedar Bay Park & Picnic Area and used their canoe launch area. It is about 30 yards from the parking lot to water down a gravel path.

After I put in, I headed west. The canal is about 10-15 yards wide in most places with no perceptible current. I mostly thought about the history of the place as I paddled. As the only boat on the water, it was hard to imagine that "Clinton's ditch" was one of the country's most important highways in its time. As I watched the carp swim near the surface and the bass jump, I also thought about how the canal was essentially dug by hand.

After approximately one mile, you go through a culvert ("low bridge, everybody down"). The pigeons scared me silly. As I approached the next few footbridges, I made more noise to scare the birds out before I went in.

After the second mile or so, you need to go through a narrow passage of about 5 feet wide. I slowed down and paddled canoe style for about 30 feet, and then the canal opens up before you again.

I paddled about 3 miles West before turning around -- far fewer than the fifteen miles per day that the old canal barges used to travel with mule-power. Along the way, you will notice old canal stones, turtles, fish jumping, and numerous walkers along the old mule path. This is a very popular walking and biking trail.

One note: depending on the weather, portions of the canal can be a little stagnant, but I noticed no odor. I was expecting to deal with flies and mosquitoes, but that did not happen.

All in all, a very nice historical paddle. However, this area is no longer pristine, and for portions of the trail you can hear cars on the parallel road through the trees. I recommend bringing bug spray. Posted signs indicate that the water is contaminated, so avoid contact with the water. Wash body parts that contact water.

Accommodations:

Running water in restrooms at the park

Fees:

No

Directions:

From Erie Boulevard in Syracuse/Dewitt, turn on Kinne Rd toward Shoppingtown Mall. Go past the mall and up the hill past the cemetery. You will approach a series of stop signs and go over the highway. As you go up the hill, Kinne dead ends at Cedar Bay Drive. Turn left. You will see an unmarked put-in on the left. Continue for about 1/2 mile and you will see the park.

Contact:

New York State Parks -- Old Erie Canal State Park, Town of Dewitt Cedar Bay Park & Picnic Area.


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