Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2005)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
- Length26.2 miles
The Mohawk Towpath Byway is a series of local, county and state highways that follow the historic route of the Erie Canal between Schenectady and Waterford/Cohoes in upstate New York. As one travels the Byway you unlock the story of the Mohawk River, Erie Canal, the waterway west and the part our communities played in the westward expansion of the country and the Industrial Revolution.
Story of the Byway
The Mohawk Towpath Byway is a driving route from Waterford and Cohoes west along the historic route of the Erie Canal including the towns of Colonie, Halfmoon, Clifton Park, Niskayuna into downtown Schenectady and the viewshed expanding into village of Scotia and town of Glenville. What makes this route special are the communities, convenience shops, quaint hometown businesses, and the people you are likely to meet along the way with their stories about our communities’ heritage and history. The Byway’s intrinsic qualities make our Byway unique. Among the archaeological, scenic, natural, recreational, cultural, and historic qualities, our many stories from many generations set our Byway apart. Many residents in the corridor express both a concern for the future of the unique features located in our communities and a willingness to share these remarkable resources.
Our vision and goal remains: The Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway is a regional partnership of communities that will balance the promotion local interests with the protection of scenic, agricultural, recreational, and historic resources by encouraging preservation, visitor accommodations, and intermodal access; coordinating interpretation, promotion, and signage; and emphasizing the important historic transportation role of the river valleys and the resultant cultural/industrial development so important to the westward expansion of the country.
The Byway originates at the junction of Eighth Street and Route 32 in Waterford. Bridging the Erie Canal, the route proceeds south on Route 32 into Cohoes and turns right onto New Courtland Street, which becomes North Mohawk Street, then Cohoes-Crescent Road in the Town of Colonie. The Mohawk Towpath Byway continues north on State Route 9, crosses the Mohawk River on the Crescent Bridge, turns left onto Crescent-Vischer Ferry Road, and bears left onto Canal Road, closely following the Mohawk River, the current Erie Canal, and the route of the original Erie Canal in the Town of Halfmoon. The Byway moves right onto Clamsteam Road, left onto Riverview Road into the Town of Clifton Park. Continuing on Riverview Road, the Byway passes through the hamlet of Vischer Ferry into the hamlet of Rexford. It turns left on State Route 146 and crosses the Rexford Bridge into the Town of Niskayuna. The Byway turns right onto Aqueduct Road and bears right on Maxon Road after entering the City of Schenectady. The Byway turns onto Erie Boulevard and terminates at the intersection of Erie Boulevard and State Street. An alternate route loops back to Waterford beginning at the Route 9 Crescent Bridge in Halfmoon, turns right onto Church Hill Road (County Route 99), and right again onto County Route 94. This alternate route bears right onto Middletown Road, then right again as it enters the Town of Waterford onto Fonda Road. Fonda Road becomes Washington Avenue in the Village of Waterford. Turn right onto Eighth Street to the eastern terminus of the Byway.
Points of Interest
Proctors Theater, State Street, Schenectady
Proctor's Theatre is a former vaudeville house located in Schenectady, New York. It has one of the largest movie screens in the Northeast.
The Stockade Historic District, Schenectady
Oldest neighborhood in Schenectady, inhabited continuously for over 300 years.
Mohawk Harbor, Schenectady
Mohawk Harbor is a 60 acre master planned community that integrates luxury living, high-tech offices, restaurants and retail along one mile of the Mohawk River.
The Aqueduct, Niskayuna
Riverview Orchards and adjacent Mohawk Landing Park
Area settled by the Dutch and used for agricultural purposes.
Vischer Ferry Historic District and adjacent Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve
Vischer Ferry Historic District and adjacent Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, some structures date back to the mid-1700s. The Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve includes a diverse collection of recreational and historic features. These include the Clutes Dry Dock and a footpath connection to an original segment of the original 1825 Erie Canal and its towpath. The Whipple Bridge at the main entrance to the Preserve is a reconstruction of a 1862 cast iron bridge that replaced many earlier wooden structures. Lock 19 was expanded to a double chamber lock in 1860's and abandoned as the Erie Canal was relocated to the mainstream of the Mohawk River in 1917.
Church Hill Historic District, Crescent
Thirteen structures, mostly residential.
Flight of Locks, Waterford
Starting at Lock #2, a series of 5 locks.
Harmony Mills District
Industrial district bordered by Mohawk River and the former Troy and Schenectady Railroad.
Called the "Spindle City" because of its textile manufacturing.
Waterford Harbor Visitor Center
"Gateway" to NY's canals.
Waterfall on the Mohawk River.
Lock 7 Dam, Clifton Park
Mohawk River Gorge, Rexford
Deep, narrow gorge .
Foot of Ferry Drive, Vischer Ferry
Great walking trail and views of the river.
Flowing along with the Mohawk River
You can begin your journey along the Mohawk Towpath Byway in Schenectady on Erie Boulevard, and there are immediately attractions for you to stop at and enjoy. If you are looking to learn about some history, the original General Electric Headquarters has been located here ever since Thomas Edison founded it back in 1892. There is also the Museum of Innovation and Science right along the start of the Byway, which only adds to the wonderful spots that can be found here.
Once you begin your drive along the Byway, you will find yourself immediately in awe of the Mohawk River and the gorgeous landscapes around it. Travelling north on Erie Boulevard, you have the opportunity to stop at Aqueduct Park, which showcases the history of this river and its importance to the Erie Canal.
You will then cross the bridge over the river and follow signs to Riverview Road, which you will follow for a good majority of the remainder of the journey. Taking this road gives you incredible views of this river and just the area in general. Along the road, there is no shortage of walking paths or opportunities to experience the beauty firsthand.
Eventually, you will see signs and follow them toward Peebles Island State Park, which is a wonderful way to end your journey. Here, you can view the island that was fortified to protect Albany in 1777 and take in the rich history in addition to the picturesque views.
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