Even though the snow from winter storm Stella has virtually all melted at home, the Southern Tier got more accumulation, and I knew it wouldn't have all melted yet down in the hills. I decided to skip the unmaintained seasonal roads for one more week, and finish up the Erie Canal section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) instead. I parked at the trailhead on Circle Drive, and hiked east to the old Erie Canal Village, then retraced my steps back to where I started for a roundtrip out-an-back of 8.8 miles. This was my longest school day hike yet, although certainly not the most challenging, given the pancake-flat terrain.
There are a few short sections where the trail is paved, but they total less than half a mile. The remaining surface is stone dust, which was fairly soft today with the ground so saturated with snowmelt, but still a bit firmer than I'd like. Nevertheless, this was my favorite section of NCT along the Erie Canal, simply because so little of it was next to a road. There is one portion of this hike where a road runs parallel to the trail on the opposite side of the canal, but it is a dead end with little traffic or development, and the remainder is surrounded by woods. It's so much more pleasant to walk out of sight of the road!
I didn't know what to expect from the Erie Canal Village, and I still don't, really, since the footbridge over the canal was gated and locked. I gather it was a living-history interpretive site, a replica of an old canal village. However, it definitely appears closed now, and the structures look to be deteriorating due to lack of maintenance. I briefly stepped on the back deck of the old canal boat moored at the side of the canal, but when I peered into the cabin, it was water logged, so I didn't actually enter. Kind of a sad state of affairs. With nothing to keep my interest, I didn't linger, and headed back the way I came.
From here, the NCT eastbound is not developed for many miles, with tentative routing following roads through the City of Rome and beyond. Therefore, I am done exploring the NCT to the north and east for now. I will focus on the sections following the Finger Lakes Trail south and west, and see where it takes me.
|Zingerline Road crossing|
|Heelpath Road crossing|
|washed out driveway|
|back at the Circle Drive trailhead|