Rome-Lowville Bicycling along the Black River Trail
The 48 miles along the Rome – Lowville segment of the Black River Trail is a series of lesser traveled highways with a common thread that inspires users to recharge and recreate in and along the Black River, where the changing character of the river is as wonderfully diverse as its nearby communities. As a bike route, it will charm with picturesque landscapes and the promise of new vistas waiting just around the corner, or the next bend in the river. The Byway also beckons passersby to stop and share in the experience – grab a paddle, set up camp, shop historic downtown community centers, and learn about each unique community – in short, to Follow the Byway that Follows the River.
Beginning in Rome along this history-rich byway, it is a ride back in history to 1817 when construction of the Erie Canal began in Rome NY, to 1776 when Fort Stanwix was reconstructed by the patriots, to the 1750s and the many French and Indian war sites in the area, and on back through centuries when Native Americans used these same rivers and portages for transportation and trade.
Riding north toward Boonville, learn the local lore of days gone by when commerce and livelihoods depended upon river transportation. Take in the engineering marvel of the former Black River Canal system that was instrumental to the industrial growth of the ‘North Country’ through its connection to the waters of the Erie Canal. Take the time to stop and view canal artifacts along the way, and to visit the Canal Museum in Boonville, located just across from one of the original towpaths, now popular as a recreational path.
The Boonville to Lyons Falls segment offers a wild and primitive waterway that whisks over rounded river rock into natural jetties before cascading downriver to gather in quiet fish filled pools. Lyons Falls to Lowville sports pastoral landscapes and quaint nearby river communities along this clear and slowly moving pebble-sand bottomed stretch, welcoming all skill levels of kayakers, canoeists and anglers.
There are a number of mountain bike trails north of Rome toward Boonville, with a number of them maintained by BREIA for both biking and cross-country skiing. The BREIA website provides maps for the 7-mile Boonville Black River Canal Trail leading from Boonville to Pixley Falls State Park. There is also the Black River Feeder Canal Trail, a stone dust trail connecting Boonville and Forestport.
see the Bike Atlas Maps developed by the Herkimer-Oneida Counties Transportation Study
Road Bike Opportunities
Family Ride – The Rome-Oriskany 6-mile trail segment that travels near the Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site and through the Oriskany Flatts State Wildlife Management Area. Parking is available at the intersection of Routes 69 and 365 and on River Street between Routes 49 and 69.
see the pdf listing of Bicycling Paths and Multi-Use Trails provided by Herkimer and Oneida counties
Moderate Ride – The Syracuse-Rome 36-mile trail segment along the Old Erie Canal towpath, traveling through the Old Erie Canal State Park between State Bridge and Rome. There are on-road links using Canal Street between Durhamville and State Bridge and Lock Road in the vicinity of Lock 21 near Stacy Basin. Parking is available at a rest area east of State Bridge on Route 46, at Lock 21 and at the Erie Canal Village on Rome-New London Road (Route 46). Use caution and walk your bike carefully when traversing the downstream gate at Lock 21.
see the listing Bicycling Paths and Multi-Use Trails provided by Herkimer and Oneida counties, also see Cycling Along The Canals of New York State by Louis Rossi.
Training Rides – Rome to Sylvan Beach, a 40-mile round-trip ride along smaller blacktop roads with some sections of heavy traffic. Verona Beach State Park is the refreshing destination. Another version of the ride can be done as a 45-mile loop through Oneida. A 76-mile loop from Rome follows the south shore of Oneida Lake and takes in Bridgeport, Manlius, Chittenango and Canastota. NYS Bike Route 5 & 69 passes through Rome on its route across the state from Niagara Falls to Albany.
- Also try the Tug Hill 100, a century ride around the scenic Tug Hill region on quiet, rural blacktops. The main climb is in the middle of the ride, near Turin, but the views of the hillside and the Black River Valley make it all worth while. Starting point is in Copenhagen and the ride circles counter-clockwise around the Tug Hill region near Lowville.
Mountain Bike Opportunities
Mountain biking opportunities along this segment of the Central Adirondack Trail vary from the more challenging single track in the Tug Hill area around Boonville, to the rolling stone dust and grass towpath trails near Forestport, Pixley Falls State Park and south of Rome along the Old Erie Canal.
Always check in with local bike shops and Chambers of Commerce to get a handle on current conditions and how to find the best rides for your group.
- BREIA Trail System – Near Boonville and Alder Creek, the Black River Environmental Improvement Association (BREIA) offers more than 50 kilometers of trails in three diverse landscapes, each providing a distinctive biking experience. Promoted mainly as cross-country ski trails, mountain biking is permitted on most trail sections with a few exceptions. Maps for each system are available at trailheads.
- Boonville-Pixley Falls Black River Canal Trail – A seven-mile rolling grass trail connecting Boonville and beautiful Pixley Falls State Park, part of the BREIA Trail System. Maps are available from BREIA and from the Herkimer-Oneida Bicycle Atlas.
- Old Erie Canal State Park – a 36-mile stretch of the 363-mile Old Erie Canal with a terminus in Rome. Designated a National Recreational Trail by the National Parks Service, the terrain is woodland and wetland offering pleasant biking opportunities for families on a short ride or for distance riders that want a reprieve from highway riding. Historic sites include remnants of stone aqueducts.
see also other info on this ride; also check out the Lewis County Recreational Trails page on Biking for more information and links to these and other trails and rides
Not to Miss
- A tour of Fort Stanwix
- The horse-drawn canal boat ride at Erie Canal Village
- The Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site
- Lyons Falls Library-Carriage House, located in the picturesque carriage house of the Gould Mansion, a Richardsonian Romanesque complex built in 1902 by G.H.P. Gould, paper mill entrepreneur.
- Black River Canal Museum – Boonville
- Black River Canal trails and other mountain biking opportunities in the Boonville area.
- Maple Ridge Wind Farm, on the ridge west of Lowville – Largest wind farm east of the Mississippi, its 195 wind towers can provide 2 percent of New York’s residential power.
Bike Events in the Area
- Erie Canal Bike Tour, Buffalo to Schenectady, 2nd week of July
also see the complete list of bike events for the region
Bike Shops Nearby
- Pedals & Petals, Inlet
- Mountain Man Outdoor Supply Company, Old Forge
- Mike’s Cycle & Sport in Lee, NW of Rome
also see the complete list of bike shops for the region
- Greater Utica Chamber Of Commerce
- Tug Hill Region
- Herkimer County Tourism Information
- Jefferson County Information
- Lewis County Tourism Information
- Oneida County Tourism Information
- Boonville Area Information
- Rome Area Information
also see the complete list of visitor information resources for the region
Always check in with these 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 a rural area 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.
Here are some of the sights along the way, scroll-over pictures to see locations and click on an image to enlarge and scroll through the gallery (click any image to return here).