The Great Lakes Seaway Trail In New York

Here is everything you need to know about the The Great Lakes Seaway Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: New York
  • Length: 365 miles.
  • Type: Multi-use.
  • Surface: paved
  • Managed By: Great Lakes Seaway Trail Development Corporation
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website:

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a scenic byway that stretches for approximately 518 miles along the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River. This historic trail is not only renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty but also for its rich historical significance. The trail follows the path of early Native American trade routes and later became a vital transportation corridor for European explorers and settlers.

The history of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail dates back thousands of years when Native American tribes, such as the Iroquois and the Huron, utilized the waterways for trade and travel. These tribes established a network of trails and portages that connected the Great Lakes region, allowing for the exchange of goods and ideas. European explorers, including Samuel de Champlain and Robert de La Salle, followed these routes in the 17th century, further establishing the importance of the waterways.

During the 19th century, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail played a crucial role in the development of the United States and Canada. The construction of the Erie Canal in the early 1800s connected the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, opening up new opportunities for trade and commerce. The completion of the Welland Canal in 1829 further enhanced the region’s transportation capabilities, allowing ships to bypass Niagara Falls and navigate between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. These canals, along with the expansion of railroads, transformed the Great Lakes Seaway Trail into a major transportation hub, facilitating the movement of goods and people across the continent.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Buffalo Harbor State Park – Buffalo, New York
2. Fort Niagara State Park – Youngstown, New York
3. Wilson-Tuscarora State Park – Wilson, New York
4. Golden Hill State Park – Barker, New York
5. Lakeside Beach State Park – Waterport, New York
6. Hamlin Beach State Park – Hamlin, New York
7. Braddock Bay State Park – Greece, New York
8. Genesee Valley Park – Rochester, New York
9. Durand Eastman Park – Rochester, New York
10. Webster Park – Webster, New York
11. Sodus Bay Heights Golf Club – Sodus Point, New York
12. Chimney Bluffs State Park – Wolcott, New York
13. Fair Haven Beach State Park – Sterling, New York
14. Selkirk Shores State Park – Pulaski, New York
15. Southwick Beach State Park – Henderson, New York
16. Robert G. Wehle State Park – Henderson, New York
17. Westcott Beach State Park – Henderson, New York
18. Cedar Point State Park – Clayton, New York
19. Wellesley Island State Park – Fineview, New York
20. Jacques Cartier State Park – Morristown, New York
21. Robert Moses State Park – Massena, New York

Transportation Available

1. Greyhound Bus Lines – Long-distance bus service connecting major cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
2. Amtrak – National passenger train service with stops in select cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
3. Megabus – Affordable intercity bus service with stops in various cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
4. Local Taxis – Taxi services available in most cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for convenient transportation.
5. Rental Cars – Various car rental agencies offer services in cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for independent travel.
6. Uber/Lyft – Ride-hailing services providing convenient transportation options in select cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
7. Local Ferries – Ferry services available in certain areas along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for scenic water transportation.
8. Bike Rentals – Bicycle rental services in some cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for eco-friendly exploration.
9. Local Public Transit – Local bus systems operating in select cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for affordable transportation within the area.
10. Airport Shuttles – Shuttle services connecting airports to cities along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail for convenient travel.


The Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers various amenities for visitors. Some of the amenities available include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at different points along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There are designated parking areas along the trail where visitors can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail provides camping sites for those who wish to stay overnight. These sites may have facilities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the scenic surroundings.

5. Hiking Trails: The trail offers hiking trails for those who enjoy exploring nature on foot. These trails may vary in difficulty and length.

6. Biking Paths: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail also provides biking paths for cyclists to enjoy the scenic views while riding.

7. Boat Launches: There are boat launches along the trail for those who wish to explore the Great Lakes by boat.

8. Fishing Spots: The trail offers various fishing spots where visitors can try their luck at catching fish.

9. Interpretive Centers: There are interpretive centers along the trail that provide information about the history, culture, and natural features of the area.

10. Scenic Overlooks: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers several scenic overlooks where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

11. Visitor Centers: There are visitor centers along the trail that provide information, maps, and assistance to visitors.

12. Wildlife Viewing Areas: The trail provides designated areas where visitors can observe and appreciate the local wildlife.

Please note that the availability of these amenities may vary depending on the specific location along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. It is recommended to check with the trail’s official website or visitor centers for more detailed information about specific amenities at each location.

Nearby Services

1. Lodging:
– Niagara Crossing Hotel & Spa – Upscale hotel with a spa, located near the Niagara River.
– Lake Ontario Motel – Budget-friendly motel offering comfortable rooms near Lake Ontario.
– Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel – Waterfront hotel with stunning views of the Thousand Islands region.
– Salmon Run Mall – Shopping center with various lodging options nearby.

2. Food Services:
– The Silo Restaurant – Quaint eatery known for its delicious seafood and scenic views of the St. Lawrence River.
– The Owl House – Vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurant offering creative dishes in Rochester.
– The Pier House Restaurant – Waterfront dining experience with a diverse menu in Sackets Harbor.
– The Great Lakes Brewing Company – Brewery and restaurant serving craft beers and pub-style food in Cleveland.

3. Emergency Services:
– Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care in Niagara Falls.
– Oswego Hospital – Community hospital offering emergency services in Oswego.
– Samaritan Medical Center – Comprehensive medical center with emergency care in Watertown.
– Cleveland Clinic – Renowned hospital system with emergency services in Cleveland.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail Difficulty Notes

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for travelers. With a total length of 518 miles, the trail provides a diverse range of landscapes and attractions, including scenic views of the Great Lakes, historic sites, charming towns, and outdoor recreational opportunities. While the trail is mostly paved and well-maintained, there are some sections that may require more effort, such as hilly terrains or occasional rough patches. However, with proper planning and preparation, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail can be enjoyed by individuals of various fitness levels, making it accessible to both casual cyclists and more experienced adventurers.

Features And Attractions

1. Niagara Falls: One of the most famous natural landmarks in the world, Niagara Falls is located on the border between the United States and Canada. It is a breathtaking waterfall that attracts millions of visitors each year.

2. Thousand Islands: A group of over 1,800 islands located in the St. Lawrence River, between the United States and Canada. The islands offer stunning views, boating opportunities, and historical sites such as Boldt Castle.

3. Sackets Harbor: A historic village located on Lake Ontario. It played a significant role in the War of 1812 and has several well-preserved military sites, including Fort Ontario and the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site.

4. Oswego Harbor: Situated on Lake Ontario, Oswego Harbor is known for its picturesque lighthouse and beautiful sunsets. It also has a rich maritime history and is home to the H. Lee White Maritime Museum.

5. Fair Haven State Park: Located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, this state park offers stunning views of the lake, sandy beaches, and hiking trails. It is a popular spot for swimming, picnicking, and camping.

6. Chimney Bluffs State Park: Situated on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, this park features unique geological formations known as “bluffs.” These towering clay formations offer stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

7. Fort Niagara: Located at the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario, Fort Niagara is a historic fort that played a crucial role in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. It offers guided tours and reenactments.

8. Presque Isle State Park: Located on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, this park is known for its sandy beaches, lagoons, and diverse wildlife. It offers opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, and birdwatching.

9. Mackinac Island: Situated in Lake Huron, Mackinac Island is a popular tourist destination known for its Victorian architecture, horse-drawn carriages, and lack of motorized vehicles. It offers stunning views of the lake and the iconic Mackinac Bridge.

10. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Located on Lake Superior in Michigan, this national lakeshore features colorful sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and pristine beaches. It offers hiking trails, kayaking opportunities, and scenic boat tours.

These are just a few examples of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks along The Great Lakes Seaway Trail. There are many more attractions and points of interest to explore along this beautiful route.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
3. Certain areas may have designated pet-free zones.
4. Seasonal restrictions may apply for certain activities or facilities.
5. Fishing regulations and licenses must be followed.
6. Swimming is allowed only in designated areas.
7. Camping is permitted only in designated campgrounds.
8. Open fires are allowed only in designated fire pits or grills.
9. Littering is strictly prohibited.
10. Motorized vehicles must stay on designated roads and trails.
11. Bicycles and pedestrians must follow designated paths.
12. Hunting is not allowed in certain areas.
13. Alcohol consumption may be restricted in certain areas.
14. Commercial activities or events may require permits.
15. Respect and protect the natural environment and wildlife.
16. Follow all posted signs and instructions from park rangers or staff.
17. Overnight parking may be restricted or require permits.
18. Use of drones may be prohibited or restricted.
19. Firearms and fireworks are not allowed.
20. Be mindful of noise levels and respect other visitors’ experience.

Seasonal Information

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a stunning scenic byway that stretches for 518 miles along the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River. This picturesque route offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture of the Great Lakes region. When it comes to the best times of the year to visit the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, it largely depends on your preferences and interests.

During the summer months, from June to August, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is at its peak in terms of outdoor activities and attractions. The weather is warm and pleasant, making it ideal for activities like boating, fishing, hiking, and cycling. This is also the time when many festivals and events take place along the trail, showcasing the region’s local culture, music, and cuisine. However, it’s worth noting that summer is also the busiest time, so expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices.

If you prefer a quieter and more serene experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. In spring, from April to May, the trail comes alive with blooming flowers and trees, creating a picturesque landscape. It’s a great time for birdwatching as migratory birds return to the region. Fall, from September to October, offers stunning foliage as the leaves change color, providing a breathtaking backdrop for your journey. The weather is still pleasant, and you can enjoy activities like apple picking and wine tasting at the local vineyards.

When planning your visit to the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, it’s important to be aware of seasonal closures. Some attractions, visitor centers, and campgrounds may have limited operating hours or close entirely during the winter months, from November to March. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the trail during this time. Winter brings its own charm, with opportunities for ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Just make sure to check ahead for any closures and plan accordingly.

Overall, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers something for everyone throughout the year. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a scenic drive, this beautiful byway will not disappoint.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces are available near trail entrances for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are provided at various locations along the trail.
3. Accessible Trails: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers accessible trails with smooth surfaces and gentle slopes for wheelchair users.
4. Wheelchair Ramps: Ramps are available at trail entrances and other areas where elevation changes occur.
5. Braille Signage: Some trail facilities feature Braille signage to assist visually impaired individuals.
6. Tactile Paving: Tactile paving is used at certain locations to guide individuals with visual impairments.
7. Accessible Visitor Centers: Visitor centers along the trail are equipped with ramps, accessible restrooms, and other accommodations.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas with accessible tables and facilities are provided for individuals with disabilities.
9. Audio Guides: Audio guides are available at certain points of interest along the trail for individuals with visual impairments.
10. Service Animal Accommodations: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail welcomes service animals and provides accommodations for their needs.

Safety Information

1. Weather Conditions: Be aware of changing weather patterns and check forecasts regularly to ensure safe travel along the trail.
2. Water Safety: Practice caution when swimming, boating, or participating in water activities, and always wear appropriate safety gear.
3. Navigation: Familiarize yourself with navigational aids, charts, and maps to ensure a safe and efficient journey.
4. Wildlife Awareness: Respect the natural habitat and wildlife along the trail, keeping a safe distance and avoiding any potentially dangerous encounters.
5. Road Safety: Observe traffic rules, wear reflective clothing, and use designated bike lanes or paths when cycling along the trail.
6. Emergency Preparedness: Carry essential safety equipment, such as a first aid kit, flashlight, and extra food and water, in case of emergencies.
7. Trail Conditions: Stay informed about any trail closures, construction, or maintenance activities that may affect your journey.
8. Personal Safety: Travel in groups whenever possible, inform someone of your itinerary, and be cautious of your surroundings, especially in remote areas.
9. Sun Protection: Protect yourself from harmful UV rays by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, especially during long periods of outdoor activity.
10. Water Quality: Check for any advisories or warnings regarding water quality before swimming or consuming water from the Great Lakes.
11. Fire Safety: Follow local regulations and guidelines when building campfires, and ensure they are fully extinguished before leaving the area.
12. Respect Private Property: Stay on designated trails and respect private property rights along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.
13. Boating Safety: Follow boating regulations, maintain proper boat maintenance, and always wear a life jacket while on the water.
14. Insect Protection: Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes by wearing appropriate clothing and using insect repellent.
15. Stay Hydrated: Carry an adequate supply of water and stay hydrated, especially during hot and humid weather conditions.
16. Leave No Trace: Practice responsible outdoor ethics by leaving no trace of your visit, disposing of waste properly, and respecting the environment.
17. Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contact numbers, including local authorities and park rangers, readily available.
18. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are physically fit and capable of undertaking the activities along the trail, and seek medical advice if necessary.
19. Camping Safety: Follow campground rules, secure food properly to prevent wildlife encounters, and be mindful of fire safety.
20. Enjoy Responsibly: Have fun and enjoy the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, but do so responsibly, respecting the environment and other trail users.

Conservation Notes

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail, spanning approximately 518 miles along the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Niagara River, is a region of significant ecological importance. The conservation status of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a matter of concern due to various factors impacting its natural resources and biodiversity.

One of the primary conservation challenges faced by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is the degradation of water quality. Pollution from industrial activities, agricultural runoff, and urban development has resulted in the contamination of these water bodies. This pollution poses a threat to the health of aquatic ecosystems, including fish populations and other aquatic organisms. Efforts are being made to address this issue through the implementation of water quality management plans and the promotion of sustainable practices.

Another conservation concern for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is the loss and fragmentation of habitats. Urbanization and infrastructure development have led to the destruction of natural habitats, such as wetlands and forests, which are crucial for supporting a diverse range of plant and animal species. Conservation efforts are focused on preserving and restoring these habitats, as well as creating wildlife corridors to connect fragmented areas and promote species movement.

Invasive species also pose a significant threat to the conservation of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Species such as zebra mussels, sea lampreys, and Asian carp have had detrimental impacts on the native ecosystems, outcompeting native species and disrupting the natural balance. Control and management strategies are being implemented to prevent the spread of invasive species and mitigate their impacts on the region’s biodiversity.

Overall, the conservation status of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a complex issue that requires ongoing efforts to address water quality, habitat loss, and invasive species. Collaborative initiatives involving government agencies, conservation organizations, and local communities are crucial for the long-term preservation of this ecologically significant region.

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