Sackets Harbor-Oswego Bicycling along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail
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The 50 miles along the Sackets Harbor-Oswego segment of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a scenic ride as you ride in the vicinity of the Lake Ontario shoreline, past state parks, wildlife management areas and across the Salmon River, one of the most popular fishing areas in New York. The elevation change along the route is available on Map My Ride. Communities along the way include Henderson Harbor, Port Ontario, Pulaski, Texas and North Scriba.
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 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 bike loop tours 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 Seaway Trail Sackets Harbor Bicycle Loop is a 22-mile loop that takes in historic Sackets Harbor and its Battlefield State Historic Site. In Dexter, the Black River makes its final fall over limestone ledges to Lake Ontario, while Brownville is the site of the General Brown Mansion. West of Sulphur Springs, herons nest and raise their young in treetop nests along Mill Creek. Roads along the eastern and southern edges of the Sackets Harbor Loop are quiet, traversing farms placed in a fertile lowland. see also MapMyRide
Moderate Ride – The Seaway Trail Salmon Hatchery Bicycle Loop is a 23-mile loop that features a ride along the Salmon River that crosses the river in two locations. The Salmon River State Fish Hatchery at Altmar features exhibits and displays of the hatchery’s work. There is some climbing on this ride up and over the shoulder of the wooded Tug Hill Plateau. The highest point is 500 feet higher than Lake Ontario, but the views are worth the ride. The roads on the Salmon Hatchery Loop are mostly quiet blacktops with a few busy stretches. Avoid State Rt 13 in the vicinity of Pulaski and use County Rt 5 instead to get back on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
- Also try the Watertown-Carthage-Evans Mills Loop, a nice 50-mile loop, mainly on back-roads.
Training Ride – Head out on the Watertown-Alex Bay-Dexter Loop, a 3/4 Century (76 miles), between Watertown and Alexandria Bay.
- There is also the Sackets Harbor to Cape Vincent (Tibbetts Point), an out-and-back ride 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 – Take the Oswego River Walk, a family-friendly river walk on both sides of the Oswego River in the City of Oswego. Connects to the Oswego Canal Park walking trails and together they provide 5 or 6 miles of enjoyable exploring up and down the banks of the Oswego River and along the shore of Lake Ontario. Stop to watch the boats using the locks on the Oswego Canal as they make the 24-mile trip between Lake Ontario and the Erie Canal.
- There is some great fat-tire family riding at Great Bear Springs, between Fulton and Phoenix off County Rt. 57. It is a 236-acre area owned by the City of Fulton and the Town of Volney Park, and managed in part by a volunteer group – the Friends of Great Bear. There are seven different trails totaling about 8 miles. Great Bear Springs has been a source of spring water for over 200 years and was bottled for sale starting in 1885, and the ruins of several former wells and pump houses remain. The property also contains the historical Hinsmanville Lock and towpath that were a part of the original Oswego River Canal, one of 18 locks between the Erie Canal in Syracuse and Lake Ontario. Recreational use of Great Bear Springs can be traced back to the 1930’s when the Civilian Conservation Corps planted the softwood forest.
Mountain Biking – Try the Rice Creek Field Station just southeast of Oswego, managed by SUNY Oswego. It provides a network of four trails near Rice Pond and Rice Creek, with a central hub and parking area on Rice Pond. Bikes are allowed on one of the four trails, the orange loop, which is the largest loop of the four at about 5 miles. The complex provides outdoor opportunities for the whole family in a number of environments, including a mature forest, wetlands, a wildflower trail and an herb garden.
- Check out the Winona State Forest trail system, east of Mannsville. It provides a large network of 70 miles of roads and trails, promoted mainly for winter use. Mountain bike use of the area seems to be growing and the cross-country ski map is a good place to start exploring the area’s mountain biking opportunities.
- 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 ft 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, and Parks & Trails NY
Not to Miss
- New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, Watertown – dedicated to New York’s wild animals and wild places.
- 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, Sackets Harbor – Discover the history, culture and uniqueness of New York’s Great Lakes Seaway Trail at this museum and interpretive center.
- Mexico Point State Park and Beach – Take Mexico Point Drive the mile or so to Mexico Bay on Lake Ontario to find this small, secluded beach.
- Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego – Star-shaped Fort Ontario has served many purposes throughout many wars, from a strategic outpost in the French and Indian War to a refugee camp for Holocaust victims during WWII.
- Safe Haven Museum and Education Center, also on the grounds of Fort Ontario – Dedicated to keeping alive the stories of the 982 refugees from World War II who were allowed into the United States as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. These refugees were housed at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York, from August 1944 until February 1946.
also see Great Lakes Seaway Trail for many more points of interest along this route
Bike Events in the Area
- Race with the Wind in 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
- Murdock’s Bicycles, Owsego
- Doyle’s Bike Shop, Fulton
also see the complete list of bike shops for the region
- Thousand Islands Region
- Oswego County Biking & Hiking
- Henderson Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce
- Sackets Harbor Area Information
- Watertown Area Information
- 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.
Here are some of the sights along the way starting in Sackets Harbor. Scroll-over pictures to see locations and click on an image to enlarge and scroll through the gallery. click any image to return here
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 (when using the gallery, click on one of the large images to return here, rather than using the back-button).