Paddlers will fill the Old Erie Canal with colorful kayaks, canoes, and SUPs June 15 to open the Canalway Challenge in Central New York with the Boat Float and Bash in Chittenango.
Starting from various launch sites within the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park, participants will paddle along the historic Erie Canal, then converge at 2 p.m. at The Boatyard at Chittenango Landing in the park for the Boat Float Bash, where there will be food trucks, music, blacksmith demonstrations, family activities, and more. A drone camera will capture the annual aerial photo of the paddlers and participants.
All registered paddlers participating receive a copy of the new Old Erie Canal Paddle Guide, an official sticker, and special gifts from the US Coast Guard.
Proceeds benefit Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum. Register for the Boat Float online at www.chittenangolanding.org/boatfloa. or by phone at 315-687-3801.
The Canalway Challenge is an initiative from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor that invites people to trace history while tracking miles walking, running, cycling or paddling on the New York State Canal System and Canalway Trail. The free program includes a range of mileage options —15 miles, 90 miles, 180 miles, and 360 miles—so that people at all fitness levels can choose a mileage goal that suits their ability and participate.
Paddlers may see several sunken canal boats, pass over working aqueducts, and view the restored dry docks at Chittenango Landing, according to Jamie Kowalczk, member of the Old Erie Canal Community Working Group putting on the event.
The new pedestrian and bicycle bridge is open as well, connecting the canal trail to the Chittenango Village creek walk. The Chittenango school district has organized a family walk to the canal bridge that coincides with the paddlers.
The event has a $10 donation registration to participate. There are four locations to start from so paddlers can self-select the mileage of their paddle; participants should end at the Boat Float Bash at 2 p.m. for the drone photo.
Participants need to bring their own kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard as well as PFD. Kayak rentals are available from Oswego Expeditions (315-561-0223), Morse Kayak Rentals (315-655-2400) in Cazenovia, Chittenango Landing and others. Participants are responsible for return transportation.
There is an option to pay for a shuttle bus that will take paddlers from Chittenango back to their launch sites. Boats can be dropped off at the launch sites so that vehicles can be left at the Canal Museum. Staff will monitor boats placed at the launch sites.
Launch locations and starting times include:
Launch Site 1: Cedar Bay Park launch in DeWitt. Meet at 8 a.m. Total Distance to Boat Float Bash 9.4 miles.
Launch Site 2: Manlius Center Rd launch. Meet at 10 a.m. Total Distance to Boat Float Bash 7.2 miles.
Launch Site 3: Pool’s Brook Park launch.Meet at noon. Total distance to Boat Float Bash 3.2 miles
Launch Site 4: Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum launch right at the site of the Boat Float Bash. Meet at noon. Out and back paddle.
Launch Site 5: Recognition Park in Chittenango. Meet at noon. Total distance to Boat Float Bash .5 miles.
Detailed directions to the launch and parking locations can be found on the event website: www.TourtheTowpath.com/boat-float.
Pre-registration is recommended, although you may register the day of the event.