Gouverneur-Ogdensburg Bicycling along the Maple Traditions (proposed)

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bike map symbolsThe proposed Maple Traditions Scenic Byway will follow the northern half of the former route of the Black River Trail between Lowville and Ogdensburg, taking the Byway traveler through a region known for its maple syrup and for a diversity of wood and agricultural products.

The 36 miles along the Gouverneur-Ogdensburg segment of the planned Maple Traditions Scenic Byway is a ride through the lowland area along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. As the glaciers retreated, they created these flat plains where the elevation varies from only 100 to 400 metres above sea level. Communities along the way are Richville, DeKalb and Heuvelton. The Scenic Byway also includes a loop through Canton.

The Village of Gouverneur was founded in 1868 and is named for Gouverneur Morris, the youngest member of the Constitutional Convention. Referred to as the Marble City, Gouverneur is rich with white dolomite marble, which has been quarried and used for marble products and construction for almost 200 years. The giant Life Savers roll that welcomes you to Gouverneur honors native son Edward John Noble. Pep-O-Mint, the company’s first life saver flavor, was promoted by Noble after he purchased the idea from its inventor in 1913. Noble had the hole added to the candy as a safety feature, so that if one stuck in a child’s throat he could still breathe while the candy melted.

While bicycling the roads on and near this Scenic Byway it is likely to encounter the horse-drawn black buggies of the Amish residents and to pass by any number of Amish roadside stands. Amish life is rooted in agriculture, and Amish roadside stands offer maple syrup, fresh produce, baked goods, hand-made quilts, baskets, aprons and other items. The Amish welcome you to stop but ask that you refrain from portrait photography. Their stands are closed on Sundays. Stores in the area, such as Picken’s Hall General Store in Heuvelton (also closed on Sunday), offer a large variety of locally-made Amish products including furniture, baskets and quilts.

Road Bike Opportunities

There are a number of on-road rides and loops along this segment of the Maple Traditions Byway.

Family Rides – A great family ride is the Remington Recreation Trail in Canton – a 3.3-mile recreational trail for walking, biking or rollerblading near Partridge Run Golf Course. There are other family-friendly trails and paths in the Canton area.

Moderate Rides – Just north of the Maple Traditions byway is the Black Creek Bicycle Loop, in the vicinity of Chippewa Bay. This 21-mile loop can be split into two shorter loops using Rt 37 between Hammond and South Hammond, and 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.

  • There is also the Black Lake Bicycle Loop in the vicinity of Odgensburg. The 22-mile loop winds through the open, gently rolling land of St. Lawrence County. This is an easy loop ride and 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 check out the Canton – DeKalb Junction Loop, a nice 32-mile loop west out of Canton, about half on back roads and half on busy State Rt 11, but Rt 11 has very wide shoulders – 10 feet in places. You may have to share the shoulder now and then with Amish families traveling by horse-drawn buggie.

Training Ride – For a training ride, try the Russell-Edwards-Canton Loop between Gouverneur, a nice 51 mile loop east of Gouverneur all on country roads with little change in elevation.

For information on touring routes in the area, check out:

Mountain Bike Opportunities

There are well-equipped bike shops in Watertown and Potsdam that can provide maps and advice on mountain bike rides in the area.

  • Indian River Lakes Conservancy Trails, near Hammond and Alexandria Bay – The Indian River Lakes Conservancy maintains over 5 miles of trails on the Grand Lake Reserve. The trailheads are located southwest of Hammond and Rossie on Burns Road approximately 2 miles from the Cottage Hill Road intersection and marked by Indian River Lakes Conservancy parking area signs. This is a conservation area also used by hikers to enjoy the ecology of this unique part of the St. Lawrence River Plain. The Indian River Lakes area encompasses the 100-mile meandering Indian River and the 18 lakes of its lake district. This is also the area of the Oswegatchie Trail, an historic travel route that held great importance to Native Americans of this region, as it connected the Mohawk River to the St. Lawrence River. Once on the Indian River, it could be traveled a long ways to Black Lake and then on to the Oswegatchie River where it meets the St. Lawrence at Ogdensburg. see also NNY Trails

Check out these other mountain bike resources covering this segment of the Maple Traditions Byway:

Bike Events in the Area

  • Race with the Wind, Lowville, September-3rd Sunday. 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.
    also see our selection of bike events for the region.

Bike Shops Nearby

Not to Miss

  • Maple Ridge Wind Farm, on the ridge west of Lowville – Largest wind farm east of the Mississippi, its 195 wind towers can provide 2% of New York’s residential power.
  • American Maple Museum, Croghan – Exhibits depict the history of maple syrup- and sugar-making techniques ranging from those used by the Native Americans to plastic tubing and stainless steel evaporators in use today. Audio tapes explain many of the exhibits.
  • Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY), Canton – A nonprofit membership organization dedicated to showcasing the folk culture and living traditions of New York’s North Country. Explore their Canton store and their website to discover the diverse customs and traditions -like storytelling, music, crafts, foodways, and folk art – that make life special in our region, from the St. Lawrence River to the Adirondack Mountains.
  • Grasse River Heritage Park, Canton – The Grasse River runs through the middle of Canton, and the Heritage Park has a well-developed walking path along the river that includes interpretation of the local mill history and the famed Rushton Canoe factory. A handicapped-accessible trail leads to a boardwalk and viewing platform at the northern tip of the island.
  • Gouverneur Museum, housed in a former Presbyterian Manse and opened in 1976. It has a large variety of artifacts on three floors and is open year round Wednesday and Saturday from 1:00 – 3:00, or by appointment for individual and group tours.
  • Picken’s Hall General Store, Heuvelton – Nationally recognized historic building on the Oswegatchie River, with an outstanding three-story staircase, and featuring a large selection of locally crafted Amish Goods.

Visitor Information

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).