|How to lock through the locks on the Erie Canal - click next.
If you time your entry into the Canal for mid-May, occasional floating debris is likely
to be your only hazard for the entire voyage, and the depth remains constantly over 9 feet.
It takes approximately 6 to 7 days to cruise the 338 miles between Waterford, NY and
Buffalo on the Erie Canal. The Canal begins at the Hudson River, just north of Albany, and
meets the Niagara River in Tonawanda, NY just north of Buffalo (and just south, and up
stream - by the way - of Niagara Falls).
Provided of course you can clear that 19' 1" bridge just south of Chicago, the only
restriction for a Great Looper wanting to cruise the Erie Canal is a fixed overhead bridge on
the east end of the Canal at Tonawanda. Your vessel's height above the water must be able
to clear 15' 6" to make it under this bridge. Otherwise, a 19' 1" clearance will take you to
Three Rivers where you must exit via the Oswego Canal into Lake Ontario.
The depths of the Erie Canal varies based on the amount of rainfall and although its
intended depth is 12 feet; its actual depth is usually closer to 9 feet. With two exceptions, the
clearances for navigating under bridges crossing the Erie Canal are all greater then 19' 1"
(the height you will have to clear in Chicago). Only one of these exceptions (the 15' 6" fixed
bridge in Tonawanda) prevents your voyage through the entire length of the Canal. The
other exception is an alternate (side trip) at the entrance of the Syracuse inner Harbor which
is 16' 6" above the water.
From Lake Ontario, you can go through the Welland Canal to Lake Erie, or
travel through Canada's Heritage Canal System (Trent-Severn Waterway) to Lake Huron.
There is a slow canal speed limit on the entire Erie Canal. NYS navigation law dictates
a 5 mph canal speed limit in most areas and a 10mph limit in others. There is also a toll for
boaters to use the Canal. Tolls, of course, are based on your vessel size. It cost $50.00 for
a 10 day pass (good for boats over 39') our last time through.
Cruising the Erie Canal is a long and a very slow cruise. Between moments of sheer
excitement and reaching for your camera, there are long stretches of the canal where your
own personal thoughts will seem to be the only thing to change. By the time your done -
you'll be itching to give your vessel full-throttle and put a little break-neck speed back into
your journey. More importantly, you'll be very thrilled over having shared this incredible
Each day is a new adventure far from the maddening crowd. Each day is a lesson in
history, nature, and patience. It won't be until you reach Rochester, NY that you will catch a
glimpse of vehicles whizzing by at 70 miles an hour - a reminder that “life in the fast lane” is
just a short distance away. And still, you won't acknowledge how enjoyable this journey has
been until you realize no one aboard (even the kids) has even mentioned the word:
telephone, television, or computer.
The Erie Canal is living ”life in the past lane” - and boating on the Erie Canal is a
perfect experience for all ages. Cruising the Erie Canal is life in the past lane - not in the fast
lane. Not only are you cruising at around 5 mph, you are also traveling through one of the
most historic and beautiful parts of the country.
Your days on the Canal will pass in timeless relaxation. Many of the canal towns have
parks that provide free electrical and water connections, and when you tie up in the late
afternoon, there is plenty of time for a bike ride, fishing, or visiting a local attraction before
|For sure, when voyaging the Erie canal, you will come to see life from a
different perspective. A solitary blue heron, flocks of geese, small heard of
deer, and even an occasional pair of lovers are often in view as you slowly the
other. Between the small towns and the other. Between the small towns and
villages, the journey is most often very quiet, peaceful and relaxing. It can also
be, very thought provoking. It is a time when being on your boat, moving over
the quiet, calm, still and relaxing waters of the canal - has a way of making you
put your entire life in prospective. It is here, you will realize what is really
important, and what energizes and excites your life.
If you have young kids, grand-kids, nieces, nephews, etc., and any
thoughts or desire whatsoever of having them join you on any portion of the
Great Loop - this is the time and the place. The Erie Canal offers not only an
enjoyable trip but an incredible educational experience. The slow, easy going
pace of the canal makes it very safe, and provides ample opportunities to stop
most anywhere along the way. There are museums, nature trails, bike trails,
Caves, Waterfalls, (even an underground boat tour). Along with the Fish,
Deer, Geese, and Ducks, you will even see a few "Golden Arches" along the
Cruising the Erie Canal is a long (6 or 7 days) and a very slow cruise.
Between moments of sheer excitement and reaching for your camera, there
are long stretches of the canal where your own personal thoughts will seem to
be the only thing to change. By the time your done you will be itching to give
your vessel some throttle and put a little break-neck speed back into your
journey. More importantly, you'll be very thrilled over having shared this
While slow, it is worth every moment of the journey.
|The Basket Factory in Middleport, NY is our very favorite stop on the
Erie Canal. It is also one of our top ten places to eat on the entire
Great Loop. It has a history dating to the very beginning of the canal.
Plan your day to arrive in the evening, and after passing under the
Middleport lift bridge, you can dock right on the wall for the night. Enjoy
a fun relaxing evening of great food, drinks, and friendly people. . . and
shuffle off to Buffalo in the morning.
|:: The Historic Erie Canal ::
|This leg of your journey is 338 miles from Waterford, NY at the Hudson, to Tonawanda, NY at the Niagara River and
entrance to Lake Erie. In order to pass through the entire length of the Erie Canal your vessel must be able to clear a fixed
bridge height of 15' 6". (If you can't clear this height, you must exit at Oswego). There are 57 locks on the Erie Canal that lift your
vessel a total of 565 feet above sea level. The Erie Canal is lined with dozens of canal towns offering all the services that a
transient boater would need.
Today's canal runs an average of about 9 feet deep. It has a vertical clearance of 21 feet between Waterford and Three Rivers
(Oswego Canal junction), and 15.5 feet between the Tonawanda and the Niagara river. The largest vessels that can make the
entire journey must be under 300 feet long, 43.5 feet wide, 9' draft, and a maximum 15' 6" height above the water.
All recreational vessels passing through any lock or lift bridge on the Canal System must purchase either a Seasonal Pass, a
Ten-Day Pass. For boats over 39 feet the toll is $50.00 for a ten day pass. Smaller vessels of course, have a smaller fee.
The Erie Canal opens May 1st to September 1st (weather permitting). Locks and Lift bridges are operated daily from 7:00
a.m. to 10:00 p.m. So there is no cruising at night as you can not go any further than the next Lock or lift bridge.
|Erie Canal Navigation
|:: The Atlantic IntraCoastal Waterway ::
|:: The Great Loop Route ::
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
|The Historic Erie Canal
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