How can a boat climb a waterfall? Or a barge travel over rapids? They can’t. Canals are built to dodge these boating hazards using a series of locks and levels. Locks are elevators for boats, lifting and lowering them as they travel along the waterway. Levels are long stretches of flat water between the locks.
The Erie Canal locks lift your vessel a total of 565 feet above sea level from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. Seven of the 57 locks on the Erie Canal are in Montgomery County, each with a park and picnic area. For more information about traveling by water, contact the New York State Canal Corporation toll-free at 1-800-4CANAL4.
Use your own boat or rent a fully equipped canal boat, and chart your own course. Marinas provide a full range of services for transient boaters. You can tie up and explore canal towns built in the 19th-century and bicycle or walk to nearby attractions.;
The Canalway Water Trail is geared toward small boaters along the 524-mile New York State Canal System. The Water Trail contains access points (launches and landings), campsites and day use sites (attractions) along the Canal System. It is designed for both the ‘day user’ looking to spend a few hours on the Canal and the long distance traveler who wants a slow, interesting passage along the length of the canal.
To pass through the entire length of the Erie Canal, your vessel must be able to clear a fixed bridge height of 15’ 6”. Today’s canal runs an average of about 9 feet deep. It has a vertical clearance of 21 feet between Waterford and Three Rivers (Oswego Canal junction), and 15.5 feet between the Tonawanda and Niagara rivers. The largest vessels that can make the entire journey must be under 300 feet long, 43.5 feet wide, 9’ draft.
Navigating the locks:
- Lock 10 Cranesville – Latitude 42° 55” 0’ Longitude -74° 8” 21’; 722 Highway 5S, Amsterdam, NY 12010
- At Amsterdam Riverlink Park, an elevated walkway with breathtaking views links downtown Amsterdam to a riverside plaza that includes an open-air stage, children’s playground, visitor’s center, gardens and 600 feet of transient boat docking. Free concerts are held during July and August. On-site laundry, shower facilities and power hookups are offered.
- Lock 11 Amsterdam – Latitude 42° 56” 46’ Longitude -74° 12” 32’; 366 West Main Street, Amsterdam, NY 12010
- Lock 12 Tribes Hill – Latitude 42° 56” 45’ Longitude -74° 17” 18’; 177 Main Street, Tribes Hill, NY 12177
- Lock 13 Randall – Latitude 42° 55” 3’ Longitude -74° 26” 44’; 100 Old River Road, Fultonville, NY 12072
- Lock 14 Canajoharie – Latitude 42° 54” 33’ Longitude -74° 34” 40’; 14 Spring Street, Palatine Bridge, NY 13428
- Lock 15 State Canal Park – Latitude 42° 56” 20’ Longitude -74° 37” 17’; 100 Otsquago Club Road, Fort Plain, NY 13339. Located toward the western end of more than 40 miles of continuous trail in Fort Plain with camping and picnic facilities.
- Lock 16 St. Johnsville – Latitude 42° 59” 31’ Longitude -74° 42” 34’; 161 Mindenville Drive, Fort Plain, NY 13339. The Village of St. Johnsville maintains a beautiful municipal park and marina, one of several in the county. River travelers can stop at the boat launch, fill up, have a picnic, and be treated to a summer’s evening concert. If you dock, camping is nearby, along with a secluded, romantic bed & breakfast.