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Biking on the East Coast

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A vacation when I was younger almost always involved driving in a car somewhere. With a big family, it was the affordable option. Now, with kids in two separate cities on the east coast, we decided to drive (I have the time) and take our bikes so we could enjoy seeing our kids and riding bikes as well.  

On our east coast journey, we went biking on:

  • Parts of the Erie Canal Trail in New York
  • The East Bay Trail near Providence, RI
  • Parts of the Charlotte Greenway bike trail in Charlotte, NC

Biking along parts of the Erie Canal: 25 miles of riding split over two days, 6 miles in Medina, NY, and 18 near Rome, NY. The Erie Canal bike trail is 400 miles of trails around the canal.

Prior to COVID, we had been discussing biking all or parts of the Erie Canal. My wife learned the Erie Canal song as a child and sings it whenever we pass the Erie Canal in our car driving through New York state.

October is a great month to travel to New York state and into New England as the trees are colorful. The beauty of the area was not diminished by a little rain that fell on us before and sometimes during our bike ride. Wet leaves on wet trails makes the trail slippery for us—although we did enjoy our biking adventure.

We began our journey on the Erie Canal in Rome, NY. The trail that picks up in Rome is not as well marked as we would have liked. As a result, we also biked the Mohawk Trail that runs in Rome; it was easy to follow. We found out that the Mohawk Trail and the Erie Canal Trail merge, but we did not discover that on our first day of riding in New York.

We were directed on where to find the Erie Canal Trail. With the help of our host at the B&B, we found the start of the trail. We did not bike far enough toward the canal, but on the next day we found the trailhead for the ride from Rome toward Utica.

The lead up to the trail in Rome was a nice paved trail. Once we left Rome on the bike trail on the way toward Utica, we noticed that it did not look as well used with grass growing in the center of a wider path; it was better suited for gravel or mountain bikes and not our road bikes. We did ride a few miles on it anyway to see if it changed, but after a few miles of riding we determined it would not change soon enough for us. We knew up front that the trail was crushed gravel. We learned that not all parts of the trail are maintained well enough for a smooth road bike experience.  

We also biked on the Erie Canal Trail in Medina, NY. This trail was easier to find and the gravel was better maintained. We did not have any trouble riding out from Medina on the gravel trails and only turned back as we were driving home that day. We did not ride through the “Medina Culvert” the only tunnel that goes under the Canal, which was nearby. Our focus was on riding on the trail next to the Canal.

The views along the Erie Canal Trail were pretty. We especially enjoyed the views on the trail heading from Medina going toward Buffalo. The trail was one that stopped and ran on the road and then began again. We did not want to explore too much, so we stopped when the trail did and turned and went several miles the other direction.

Biking in Providence on the East Bay Path: 24 miles total, including a few finding the start of the trail. The trail length is 28 miles total (14 miles one way) and we stopped about 5 miles short of the end of the line for the bike path.

East Bay Trail

We followed the Bay Trail that starts at India Point Park in Providence, a really pretty section of Providence. The trail map we picked up from the local bike shop had us cross the Washington Bridge and then bike on 1st Street for a few blocks where the East Bay Bike Path began.

View on the East Bay Trail

The East Bay Bike path was well maintained and is asphalt all of the way that we went (about 9 miles one way on the trail). We had the perfect October day for a ride along the path.

The East Bay path was designed for our road bikes, it was well-marked and a pleasure to ride on. We met several other walkers and riders out enjoying the trail along the bay.

Biking in Charlotte on the Charlotte Greenway: 15 miles including a few side streets to see where they would go. The Greenway has about 50 miles of trails in various spots in and around the city. Prior to visiting Charlotte, we reviewed several maps of the Greenway. From the website it appeared they will be (someday) connected, although today they are several little bike trails.

I was able to bike the Greenway in Charlotte. The trails were well marked and had helpful maps. It was not until I got to visit one of the trails that I understood they really were not connected, and I was able to see the construction in progress.

I began the Greenway bike ride at the James Polk House, as I had seen the bike riders when I was last visiting the house. Too bad the museum and parking close at 5 PM leaving me to park outside of the gate to ensure I could get out and back to Charlotte.

The ride I took was only 7 miles one way. In my experience I have seen bikers being cavalier with construction. This was a hard stop at the end of this portion of the Greenway. I was encouraged that they are working on the Greenway and hope to come back and ride a longer stretch someday. 

Lessons Learned:

I have been a fan of trying the new trail and finding the path. Stopping at the local bike shop in Providence we found a great day trip bike ride, the East Bay Bike Trail with directions from the store. Thank you, Dash Bike Store.

We were able to find out about the Erie Canal Trail, advertised as crushed gravel and can now see for ourselves that if we take a bike tour in the future along the Erie Canal Trail, we will take a guided tour with their bikes and not ours as our road bikes are not the best on crushed gravel.

Other Fun

We stopped at the Dari Bee on the East Bay Bike Path for ice cream on a beautiful fall day. The Dairy Bee looks like it had been in place for a long time and the ice cream tasted really good. We were happy they were open during the week in October.

We ate several great meals in Providence, RI; every restaurant we went to was a good one. In Rome, NY, we ate one meal out and it was a wonderful dinner at DeSalvo’s Restaurant on James Street. I would stop in again to eat here. Biking builds a healthy appetite.


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