GUEST COLUMN: Enjoy the spring on the Chenango Canal Towpath Trail

By Diane Van Slyke

We are fortunate we live in such a beautiful area. If you are looking for exercise, education, recreation and nature, why not take a walk on the Chenango Canal Towpath Trail? Not every community has a historic canal to enjoy 184 years later. We have no restrictions to go outside! Just maintain at least six feet apart if you should meet someone else on the towpath.

There several good starting points for walking the Towpath Trail, which in total is about 7 ½ miles in length. 

In Bouckville, park at the Chenango Canal Cottage Museum on Canal Road and explore historic pictures from 1836 – mid 1900s.  Enjoy the observation deck behind it. You can walk north across Rt. 20 and down the stairs to the towpath on the other side. This part of the trail covers another two miles to the intersection of Canal Road and Elm Street. Cross Elm Street and continue another half to three-quarters of a mile under cedar trees. Part of the trail goes up a steep hill and then back down to the water again. It ends at Oriskany Creek where the canal falls in a four-foot waterfall.

Or, you can walk south on Canal Road just around the Bouckville Mill and down the stairs to the towpath leading towards Woodman Pond (2.5 miles) just across Woodman Road.  You will cross Rt. 46 2 miles south of Bouckville.

Another good starting point, especially if you want to see lots of birds and waterfowl on Woodman Pond is the small pull-off area where the towpath crosses Woodman Road.  Head south alongside Woodman Pond and the Chenango Canal.  Look for places where water from the feeder canal come into the main canal.  It’s 2 ½ miles to the Montgomery Street trailhead.

On the north side of Woodman Pond, there is almost another mile of trail that meets Rt. 46. This is the area we are improving by grading and resurfacing with gravel. Partnership For Community Development (PCD) wrote a Recreation Trail Program grant that was awarded to us last year. We have to meet certain conditions as each stage progresses.

In the Village of Hamilton, there’s a parking area opposite Speedway Gas station near the courthouse on Montgomery Street. It leads you 2 miles to Woodman Pond.  Along the way, you pass near a wooded area and around the southern, fenced, end of the Hamilton Municipal Airport.

You can see the history of the Chenango Canal on a large kiosk at the airport entrance. An alternate walking path leads from the Hamilton Airpark or you can drive up Airport Road and park near it.

See if you can find “Secret Lake” near the airport. The trail connects to a service road (after crossing Eddy Road, walk around a closed fence) approximately a half mile to Woodman Pond. Woodman Pond is a huge birding area! If children are 16 years or younger and a resident of New York State, they can take the NYS DEC “I Bird NY” challenge! More experienced birders can take the “I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge! Go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/109900.html  to download a pdf application and bring it with you. You can walk the trail for a leisurely stroll or for the entire 7 ½ miles.

A suggestion: why not help keep the towpath clean by going out individually or as a family and take a garbage bag with you to pick up trash as you go? Take pictures of wildlife, footprints, conditions of the trail or of your family with trash pick-up and send to CCA@chenangocanal.org or text to 315-729-8323. We can post it to our website, www.chenangocanal.org with a big thank you!

Call 315.729.8323 with any questions; check out the map at chenangocanal.org/The_Towpath_-_HamiltonTrails.pdf and go outside!

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