Clayton-Sackets Harbor Bicycling along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail
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The 41 miles along the Clayton-Sackets Harbor segment of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a scenic ride as you closely follow the St. Lawrence River to where it meets Lake Ontario near Cape Vincent. For the complete experience, ride the three miles out to Tibbetts Point Lighthouse to take in the spectacular view and maybe spend a night in the Victorian-era lightkeeper’s quarters has been converted to a comfortable hostel. After leaving the St. Lawrence, the remainder of the ride is a cross-country ride with occasional views of Lake Ontario, with scenic river crossings at Chaumont and Dexter before the final few miles into the historic community of Sackets Harbor and its scenic setting on Lake Ontario. Communities along the way include Cape Vincent, Three Mile Bay, Chaumont, Limerick and Dexter.
See the Great Lakes Seaway Trail website for all the details about this exciting National Scenic Byway, selected as one of America’s Byways by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Seaway Trail Bicycling Kit, available from the online catalog of Great Lakes Seaway Trails, is a valuable companion to any bike tour in this area. Developed by the Adventure Cycling Association, this 8-piece kit highlights the Seaway Trail Bicycle Route and includes a 111-page illustrated guidebook with six-loop tour brochures and a 20-by-26-inch map for biking Cayuga, Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. The map includes turn-by-turn descriptions and highlights points of interest in four map sections covering the Great Lakes Seaway Trail from Massena to Oswego. The Ogdensburg-Clayton segment is Section 3: The Thousand Islands.
Road Biking Opportunities
Easy Ride – The Black Creek Bicycle Loop near Chippewa Bay, one of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail bike loops. This 21-mile loop can be split into two shorter loops using Route 37 between Hammond and South Hammond, starting in Hammond, South Hammond or Chippewa Bay. You’ll travel through the South Hammond State Forest, a welcome rest stop for cyclists. Many of Hammond’s early settlers were stone masons, and a number of stone buildings have survived and are now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Moderate Ride –The Black Lake Bicycle Loop Ogdensburg, one of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail bike loops. The 22-mile loop winds through the open, gently rolling land of St. Lawrence County. This is an easy loop ride; you’ll find few elevation changes along the wooded creeks and marshes. Starting in Ogdensburg or at Eel Weir State Park, you’ll find nice views of Black Lake and the Oswegatchie River, as well as of the St. Lawrence. You’ll pass Amish farms, maybe a horse-drawn buggy, and should find a fruit stand or two, along with a general store.
- Also try the Watertown-Carthage-Evans Mills Loop, a nice 50-mile loop, mainly on back-roads.
Training Ride – Clayton to Kingston via Howe Island, this ride requires walking your bike over the Thousands Islands Bridge at Wellesley Island. The route along Thousand Islands Parkway in Ontario is narrow and bumpy in places and Howe Island is a good alternative route. Returning via the ferries serving Wolfe Island adds another 20 miles of biking, plus the ferry rides. Travel across the Canada-U.S. border REQUIRES a passport or similar ID. When estimating travel time, factor in walking bikes over the bridge and the ferry rides, including possible wait times.
- Also try the Watertown-Alex Bay-Dexter Loop, A 3/4 century ride (76 miles) up to the St. Lawrence and back.
- There is also the Sackets Harbor to Cape Vincent (Tibbetts Point), an out-and-back of 60 miles recommended by the Finger Lakes Cycling Club. In riding between centers of historical importance, you get to explore a lot of that extraordinary shoreline, and the 60 miles could be extended with additional scenic lakeshore riding.
Family Rides & Mountain Biking
Family Ride – An enjoyable ride on wide tires is the Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail which is made up of two segments of the old Penn Central Railroad bed that have been converted to a dedicated pathway by the 1000 Islands Land Trust and their community partners. There is a total of 25 miles of rails-to-trails path in the area of Clayton, Orleans, Theresa, Redwood and Philadelphia. The two pathway segments meet south of Theresa and they can be accessed from several points. The surface is dirt and cinder, so wide tires are recommended.
- Or, if a paved path is preferred, right on the eastern edge of Watertown is the Black River Trail, a wide paved trail that is a favorite with families. This 3.3-mile trail is well used from dawn til dusk and is well-marked with mileage posts from each direction. The Black River end of the trail features a picnic area and access to wide rocks at the edge of the Black River. The river edge is not fenced off and the current is often swift, so keep a close eye on children and pets.
For a variety of family riding, there are the Thompson Park Trails right in Watertown, from flat, paved paths that encircle the playground to single track mountain biking on some steep hills. see for more info or for a trail map
Mountain Biking – Experience Lake Ontario by mountain bike at the Robert G. Wehle State Park near Henderson Harbor and Sackets Harbor. The former estate of Mr. Wehle boasts 1,100 acres and over 17,000 feet of spectacular Lake Ontario shoreline with over 10 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. The park’s network of carriage paths and foot trails pass through a diverse mixture of wetlands, woodlands, meadows and pasture lands. Three miles of dramatic limestone cliffs, some reaching 80 feet high, provide breathtaking scenic overlooks before dropping down to Lake Ontario’s shoreline.
see also Northern NY Trails, Parks & Trails NY and 1000 Islands Land Trust
For the St. Lawrence River area, check out these other biking resources:
- The Seaway Trail Bicycle Route, illustrated guidebook including six bike loop tours and a 20-by-26-inch map.
- 25 Interesting Bicycle Trails in the Thousand Islands and St. Lawrence Seaway Region, a 25-trail guidebook.
Not to Miss
- Antique Boat Museum, A multiple-building museum located right on the banks of the majestic St. Lawrence River. The galleries are overflowing with unique and beautifully preserved examples of great North American watercraft. From May to October each year, the campus comes alive with boat shows, regattas, childrens’ activities, guided tours, boat-building classes and a wealth of other programs and events.
- New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, dedicated to New York’s wild animals and wild places, in Watertown.
- Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, illustrating how Sackets Harbor became the center of American naval and military activity for the upper St. Lawrence Valley and Lake Ontario.
- Seaway Trail Discovery Center – Discover the history, culture and uniqueness of New York’s Great Lakes Seaway Trail at this museum and interpretive center in Sackets Harbor.
also see Great Lakes Seaway Trail for many more points of interest along this route
Bike Events in the Area
- Race with the Wind, Lowville, 3rd Sunday in September – Mountain bike through Tug Hill, Lewis County, NY, in the shadows of the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi. Much of the route is off-road with some single-track trails. The main route is 50 miles and there is a 20-mile route suitable for beginners or families.
- Check the Events page on the Thousand Islands Land Trust website for dates of their annual guided bike tours on Wellesley Island and other rides in the Clayton-Alexandria Bay area; there are usually a few each summer.
see the complete list of bike events for the region.
Bike Shops Nearby
- Black River Adventure Shop, Watertown
- Blue Cat CyclesWatertown, Watertown
also see the complete list of bike shops for the region
- Thousand Islands Region
- Cape Vincent
- Chaumont-Three Mile Bay
- Sackets Harbor
- Great Lakes Seaway Trail
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 (from the gallery, click on one of the large images to return here, rather than using the back-button).