Erie Canal: Meridian Center (Rochester) to San Souci Park (Brockport)

Riding (back!) down the Erie Canal Path at San Souci Park in Brockport, New York
Riding (back!) down the Erie Canal Path at San Souci Park in Brockport

For Rochester locals, the Erie Canal Path is one of “the” places to go biking, running, and hiking.  I even knew some kids who would hitch up their dog to a sled and go for a ride on the canal path in the winter (it was the highlight of that husky’s day to see the harness come out of the closet!)  Every once in a while, I get to ride another portion of the Erie Canal Path on my bicycle – most recently, the section between Meridian Center Park in Brighton/Rochester and San Souci Park in Brockport.

Quick Stats

One-way Length: 25.75 miles Trail Type: Shuttle Elevation Change: 812ft. Pets: Leashed Fees: None

A killdeer in the parking area at Meridian Center, New York
A killdeer in the parking area

We parked near Meridian Center Park (actually, we parked in the office complex parking lot for reasons I won’t go into here – but suffice to say we had good reasons to be there).  A path goes from the park or parking lot up to the canal path, which at this point is a good 10 or 20 feet above the parking lot level.

The Erie Canal Path near Meridian Center Park, Rochester, New York
The path near Meridian Center Park

We turned right (west).  We’d biked through this section once before after biking part of the Genesee Riverway, so it wasn’t new territory.  The path goes along the canal and passes the guard locks that can be closed to keep the Genesee River from flooding the canal if the river gets too high.  The guard locks are also closed in the winter when the canal is drained.

Construction on the guard locks, Rochester, New York
Construction on the guard locks

Directly after passing the guard locks, you’ll pass an old railway bridge on the left.  This now carries the Lehigh Valley Trail over I-390 – post coming soon!  Keep going straight on the canal path.

Flowering trees in Genesee Valley Park, Rochester, New York
Flowering trees in Genesee Valley Park

The next excitement is Genesee Valley Park.  The park can have quite a few flowers and flowering trees in season.  We were a little late for the flowering trees and a little early for the flowers since it had been a cool spring.  Still, there were a few blooms around.

Perennial Peavine in Genesee Valley Park, Rochester, New York
Perennial Peavine in Genesee Valley Park

On the left, an old stone bridge crosses the canal.  We biked up onto it just for the view, then we went back to the canal path and turned left to continue on the canal path, turned right on the Genesee Riverway, and turned left to cross the bridge over the Genesee River.

Riding on the bridge across the Genesee River, Genesee Riverway, Rochester, New York
Riding on the bridge across the Genesee River

On the other side of the bridge, turn left to cross another stone bridge.  It’s after this that things get a little bit tricky.  You want the Canalway Trail (West) – the Riverway Trail goes south and the Greenway Trail (Genesee Valley Greenway – post coming soon!) also goes south from this junction.  It is signed, but we ended up getting lost anyway under the I-390 bridges.  There is a park under the bridges – some of the people there were normal enough looking; others seemed to be a bit seedy.  At any rate, I was glad to get back onto the right trail and continue west.

Sign at the junction of the Greenway/Riverway/Canal Path in Rochester, New York
Sign at the junction of the Greenway/Riverway/Canal Path

The next part of the Erie Canal Path was probably the worst part I’ve ever ridden on.  The path itself had a good tread (much better than further west; more on that later).  But the area itself wasn’t that nice.  You’re going through not-quite-downtown Rochester, which in this case meant construction sites, rail yards, and low-income neighborhoods.  It’s the only time I haven’t felt quite safe on the Erie Canal Path.  Most of the people we met ignored our existence and went on fishing or biking or walking.

Crossing the CSX line via the bridge on the Erie Canal Path, Rochester, New York
Crossing the CSX line via the bridge

After crossing the CSX line via a bridge over what looks to be a rail yard, you’ll have to cross Buffalo Road, which is… exciting.  There is a traffic light, but for a few minutes, we weren’t sure whether or not we’d make it across.  The good news is that once you’re across that, the trail becomes more rural.  Finally!

More rural Erie Canal Path near Spencerport, New York
More rural canal path

At 9.2 miles, cross under Long Pond Road, then take the exit (on the left) up off of the canal path and up to Long Pond Road.  Turn left to cross over the bridge, then turn left again to take the entrance back down to the canal path on the opposite side of the canal.  Turn right on the canal path – this will save you some gravel path and also save you from ending up in the middle of a neighborhood when the trail unexpectedly ends.  After Henpeck Park at mile 11.25, the pavement ends and you’re riding on gravel (but it’s not too bad).

Dame's Rocket (I think) along the Erie Canal Path, Spencerport, New York
Dame’s Rocket (I think) along the canal path

The scenery is pretty typical up to Gates and Spencerport about 15 miles from Meridian Center Park.  Spencerport is a charming little town with a drawbridge over the canal.  You’ll need to turn right for a short distance before you can cross the main road and get back on the Canal Path.

Drawbridge over the Erie Canal in Adam's Basin (west of Spencerport), New York
Drawbridge in Adam’s Basin (west of Spencerport)

It was some time after this that we came to a portion of the path that was being renovated (it started maybe about mile 19 or mile 20.4).  The problem with this is that so many big trucks had gone down the Canalway that the ride was exceedingly bumpy.  Hopefully, this issue has been fixed since I rode it, but if not, realize that the bumpy path is not fun to ride on at all.  The last 5 miles or so to San Souci Park were rough, but we made it!

What I mean by "rough" Erie Canal Path, Brockport, New York
What I mean by “rough”

There is a small pavilion, a boat launch, and a parking area at San Souci Park.  I’d gather that it’s mostly used by fishermen wanting to launch or pull out their boats.  Still, our shuttle ride was waiting for us, so it was a good ending point for us!

Guard gates on the Erie Canal near Brockport, New York
Guard gates near Brockport

One-way Trail Distance: 25.75 miles point to point (you can make it shorter)

Elevation Gain: 812ft. (492ft. to 559ft.)  Note: I find this unconvincing.  There are a few ups and downs, but nowhere near as many as Google Earth seems to think!

Facilities: There are technically bathrooms and picnic tables in Meridian Center Park.  A few other parks along the way have picnic tables and occasionally a port-a-potty.

Fees: None

Trail Notes: There are nicer sections of the Erie Canal Path to ride.  However, for something different, this is a great section to ride as long as you skip the part between Genesee Valley Park and Buffalo Road.

"Marina - No Wake" sign on the Erie Canal, Rochester, New York
“Marina – No Wake” sign

Trail ★

Road ★

Signs ★

Scenery ★

Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this? ★

Overall Rating: ★

Looking through the railing of the concrete bridge in Genesee Valley Park along the Erie Canal, Rochester, New York
Looking through the railing of the concrete bridge in Genesee Valley Park

GPS Coordinates for the Erie Canal Path between Meridian Center Park and San Souci Park

Meridian Center Park: 43.102873, -77.587147 (43°06.17238′, -077°35.22882′ / 43°06’10.3428″, -077°35’13.7292″) (493ft.) (0.0)

Guard gates: 43.116932, -77.632613 (43°07.01592′, -077°37.95678′ / 43°07’00.9552″, -077°37’57.4068″) (525ft.) (2.8)

Lehigh Valley Trail: 43.117762, -77.634303 (43°07.06572′, -077°38.05818′ / 43°07’03.9432″, -077°38’03.4908″) (530ft.) (2.9)

Bridge over the Genesee River: 43.122216, -77.639828 (43°07.33296′, -077°38.38968′ / 43°07’19.9776″, -077°38’23.3808″) (515ft.) (3.4)

Turn right for Canal Path: 43.121437, -77.644884 (43°07.28622′, -077°38.69304′ / 43°07’17.1732″, -077°38’41.5824″) (515ft.) (3.7)

Street art under one of the bridges over the Erie Canal west of Rochester, New York
Street art under one of the bridges west of Rochester

Buffalo Road: 43.149900, -77.672077 (43°08.99400′, -077°40.32462′ / 43°08’59.6400″, -077°40’19.4772″) (541ft.) (6.25)

Long Pond Road: 43.182454, -77.701951 (43°10.94724′, -077°42.11706′ / 43°10’56.8344″, -077°42’07.0236″) (513ft.) (9.2)

Henpeck Park (parking): 43.187824, -77.730656 (43°11.26944′, -077°43.83936′ / 43°11’16.1664″, -077°43’50.3616″) (518ft.) (11.25)

Spencerport: 43.193638, -77.800165 (43°11.61828′, -077°48.00990′ / 43°11’37.0968″, -077°48’00.5940″) (515ft.) (15.0)

San Souci Park: 43.221764, -77.996656 (43°13.30584′, -077°59.79936′ / 43°13’18.3504″, -077°59’47.9616″) (513ft.) (25.75)

Boat on the Erie Canal near Brockport, New York
Boat on the Erie Canal

The gpx file for the Erie Canal Path can be downloaded – please note that this and the GPS Coordinates are for reference only and should not be used as a sole resource when hiking this trail.

Download GPX File size: 53.3 KB Downloaded 4 times

(Note: I do my best to ensure that all downloads, the webpage, etc. are virus-free and accurate; however, I cannot be held responsible for any damage that might result, including but not limited to loss of data, damages to hardware, harm to users, from use of files, information, etc. from this website.  Thanks!)

Rough section of the Erie Canal Path, Brockport, New York
Rough section of the Erie Canal Path

Getting to Meridian Center Park

Take I-390 to I-590 (or from the east, take I-590) to Exit 1 – Winton Road.  Take the exit and turn south onto Winton Road (note that it’s a very weird intersection – follow the signs).  That’s right coming from I-390 and left coming from the east (I-590).  After a quarter-mile, turn right onto Meridian Center Blvd – it will look like an office park and that is ok.  Keep going straight past the office buildings to the end of the park road a half a mile later.

A maple helicopter in Genesee Valley Park, Rochester, New York
A maple helicopter

Getting to San Souci Park

From I-90, take Exit 48 toward NY-98N.  Turn right (north) on NY-98N for 3.5 miles, then turn right onto NY-262E for 5.6 miles.  Turn left onto Byron Road for 1.4 miles, left onto NY-237N for 9.6 miles, and a slight right onto Batavia Street for a tenth of a mile.  Turn right onto NY-31E (State Street) for 1.7 miles; just after crossing the canal, turn left onto County Line Road.  After a quarter-mile, turn left into San Souci Park.

An old, rusty building on the other side of the Erie Canal, Gates, New York
An old, rusty building on the other side of the canal

From Meridian Center Park, go back out to Winton Road and turn left (north) and get on I-390S.  Fairly quickly, merge onto I-390N toward the Airport.  After 5.2 miles, use the left lane to continue on NY-390N (same road, maintained by the state).  Directly after this, use the left lane to take Exit 20B to merge onto I-490W toward Buffalo.  After 1.9 miles, take Exit 8 toward NY-531 W toward Spencerport and Brockport for 8.5 miles, at which point, the road changes names to NY-31W.  After 5.5 miles, turn right on NY-31 W (Redman Road) for 1.5 miles and left on NY-31W for 1.3 miles.  Just before crossing the canal, turn right onto County Line Road.  After a quarter-mile, turn left into San Souci Park.

Visual trail map and elevation profile for the Erie Canal Path from Rochester to Brockport, New York
Visual trail map and elevation profile for the Erie Canal Path from Rochester to Brockport

Zoom map out to browse nearby hikes & places of interest

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