Northville-Fonda Bicycling along the Adirondack Trail
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A bicycle ride on the 24-mile Northville-Fonda section of the Adirondack Trail can start with the dip of a tire in the Great Sacandaga reservoir and end at the Old Erie Canal on the Mohawk River near Fonda. Communities along the way include Mayfield, Gloversville and Johnstown. It is only 24 miles from Northville to Fonda, with plenty of opportunities for food, shopping and other relaxation. You’ll cross the Adirondack Park boundary halfway between Northville and Fonda, and if traveling from the north enjoy that last down hill stretch out of the Adirondack Mountains and out into the Mohawk River Valley.
While in the Johnstown-Gloversville area take advantage of the Fulton County Rail Trail, other wise known as the FJ&G Rail Trail, currently 8 miles long with plans to add another 20 miles. While in the Fonda area, take in some of the history of the Erie Canal along 12 paved miles of the Canalway Trail, a completed section of the planned 524-mile trail system. While in the Fonda area take the time to visit the Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine and its Native American Museum. The Johnstown and Gloversville areas bring Revolutionary War history alive at Johnson Hall and at a number of state and national historic sites.
As the only water route through the Appalachian Mountain chain, the Mohawk River Valley has been an important transportation corridor for centuries. It is the homeland of the Mohawk and Oneida nations of the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy. They controlled this strategic gateway to the west, putting them at the center of European battles to control the North American continent. Important battles of the American Revolution were fought all along the valley as in the successful defense of Fort Stanwix and the pivotal battle at Oriskany. The Erie Canal was first completed in the Mohawk Valley, pushing the American nation westward and spreading the Industrial Revolution along its route. Immigrants and ideas easily flowed back and forth among the communities it connected, nourishing many of America’s technological innovations and influential social movements.
Road Biking Opportunities
As with most of Rt 30, wide shoulders in most areas – six feet and more – and generally good surface quality add that extra comfort factor along this popular highway route. Note that the Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway (Route 30) intersects State Bicycle Route 5 at Fonda. As Lou Rossi points out in his informative guide, Cycling Along the Canals of New York State:
The Mohawk Valley is a great place to bicycle and the forty miles across Montgomery County offers some great options. The Canalway Trail (paved and unpaved) is almost complete for off-road riding. Bike “5”, along NY 5 S, is directly adjacent offering a continuous, parallel on-road route. And NY 5, on the Mohawk River’s north shore, provides a cycling alternative all along the way. Loops are very easy to find – there are sixteen bridges across the Mohawk River from Schenectady to Utica and all are bicycle-friendly. Not only is there easy riding in Montgomery County; but along with some great Erie Canal history to see, the area is host to many Mohawk Indian and colonial and Revolutionary War sites. (p. 60 – 2nd Edition, 2006)
Mr. Rossi has not only bicycled all of these bike routes, as a former head of the NY Transportation Department, he played a major role in their development.
Bike ride suggestions for the area include:
Family Ride – There are at least two great options for family riding on paved recreational pathways:
- The FJ&G Rail Trail, Gloversville & Johnstown – An abandoned railroad bed is home to Fulton County’s 8-mile Rail Trail. This paved, landscaped trail is a pleasure for many forms of recreation including bicycling, jogging, rollerblading, and cross-country skiing. The Rail Trail is accessible to the public in many locations, at least 4 parking areas are designated, and the trail is handicapped accessible. Plans are to develop another 20 miles of Rail Trail. Contact Fulton County Tourism in Gloversville for more information.
- The Erie Canal, Canalway Trail – The segment that is accessed in Fultonville, across the Mohawk River from Fonda, is referred to as the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway, that 60-mile section of the Canalway Trail between St. Johnsville and Waterford in the Capital Region. The Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway is continuous except for a segment between Rotterdam Junction and Amsterdam, a short segment under Interstate Route 87 (Adirondack Northway) in the Town of Colonie, and short segments in Schenectady and Cohoes. The bikeway route is signed along connecting roadways. Many sections of the Canalway Trail are built on former grades of the nineteenth century Erie Canal towpath. Available information about the bikeway is available from a number of websites although none seem to provide online details for all 60 miles, in terms of which sections are paved, see for example: NY Canals, Canalway Trail, Parks & Trails NY, and Friends of the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway. There is also a guidebook available for purchase, Erie Canal Bicyclist & Hiker Tour Guide.
- The Fultonville 10-mile Bike Path Ride is on the Canalway Trail and illustrates a 10-mile, one-way ride on a paved section of path going west from Fultonville.
The New York State Canalway Trail System is comprised of a network of more than 260 miles of existing multi-use, recreational trails across upstate New York, with the potential to double that along the 500-mile route of the Erie Canal. The Canalway Trail System is comprised of four major segments: the 100-mile Erie Canal Heritage Trail in Western New York; the 36-mile Old Erie Canal State Park Trail in Central New York; the 60-mile Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway in the eastern Capital Region, and the eight-mile Glens Falls Feeder Canal Heritage Trail in the foothills of the Adirondacks near Lake George. In addition, there are smaller segments of Canalway Trail.
Training Ride – Johnstown to Speculator, This ride along the Adirondack Trail Scenic Byway is mapped as a 48-mile ride, add another 5 miles to Fonda and you have a nice Century ride.
Mountain Bike Opportunities
Check out some of the dirt and stone-dust sections of the Mohawk-Hudson Bikeway, the 60-mile trail along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River between St. Johnsville (west of Fonda) and Waterford on the Hudson River near Albany.
Not to Miss
- FJ&G Rail Trail, Gloversville & Johnstown
- Canalway Trail
- Johnson Hall State Historic Site
- The Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine
see Adirondack Scenic Byways.org for many more points of interest along this route
Bike Events in the Area
Bike Shops Nearby
- The Bike Works, Johnstown, 518-762-1342
also see the complete list of bike shops in the region
- Hamilton County Visitor Information
- Fulton County Tourism
- Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce
- Montgomery County Tourism
- Saratoga County Tourism
also see the complete list of visitor information resources for the region
Check in with Chamber offices, bike shops and other sports shops in the area to get the latest information and review your route with someone knowledgeable of the area. When biking, dress for the weather and carry water, snacks, map, repair kit and cell phone. When biking in rural areas, services could be few and far between, and cell phone service may not always be available. See the Before You Ride notices in the bottom section of this website, as well as the Disclaimer notice.
Below are some of the sights along the way – scroll over an image to see its title, or click an image to enlarge it and then move through the entire gallery (click on one of the large images to return here).