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Canal trail system drew millions to Finger Lakes region in 2022

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

During the pandemic, New York’s trail systems experienced a surge in popularity as individuals sought safe outdoor recreational options. According to a recent report titled “Who’s on the Trail 2022: Canalway Trail” by Parks & Trails New York and the Canal Corp., the Canalway Trail system receives approximately 3.55 million annual visits. The 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail alone garnered 3.37 million visits in 2022, peaking during the pandemic and maintaining its popularity since then. The entire Canalway Trail system welcomed more than 10 million visitors since 2020.

The Canalway Trail system proved crucial for New Yorkers during the pandemic, with nearly 80% of Upstate New York residents living within 25 miles of the Erie Canalway Trail. The trail provided a safe recreational outlet for local communities, and data indicates that those who discovered the trail during the pandemic continue to incorporate it into their routines. To track visitor numbers, electronic counters were installed at 24 locations along the Erie and Champlain canalway trails over the past five years, with additional counts provided by partner organizations and manual counts by volunteers.

Lock 30 in Macedon, one of the electronic counter locations, registered over 34,000 annual visits from April 2021 to May 2022. Usage in Macedon peaked during summer months, with the highest count of 10,389 visitors recorded in August. The report also noted that most locations experienced the heaviest usage on weekends and holidays, indicating the trail’s popularity for recreational activities. Although the summer season saw the highest numbers, the trail maintained consistent levels of use throughout the year.

RELATED: Read the full-report here from NYS Canal Corp.

Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton emphasized the importance of continued investment in the trails, ensuring safe access to the state’s picturesque landscapes and amenities for generations to come. Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Paul Steely White also praised the Canalway Trail as an invaluable asset, providing easy access to recreation for millions of New Yorkers and attracting visitors worldwide. The investments made in the Empire State Trail system have proven worthwhile as the state emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.