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Canalside Campsites Ready For Visitors

A Tentrr site at the Yankee Hill Lock on the Mohawk River
Lucas Willard
A Tentrr site at the Yankee Hill Lock on the Mohawk River

Four new “hassle-free” campsites are preparing to welcome visitors along the Erie Canal.

New York’s outdoor amenities like campsites, biking and hiking trails saw a spike in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the increased interest in outdoor recreation opportunities has come as New York is undertaking its Reimagine the Canals initiative to bring new economic life to the project that transformed industry in the 19th Century.

The New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation recently announced the “On the Canals” program to bring free outdoor excursions to the public.

Gil Quinones is President and CEO of the New York Power Authority…

“Our On the Canals program is a natural outgrowth from the Reimagine program and last year’s Staycation initiative, helping to showcase the tremendous progress we’ve made to ensure the canals remain accessible and one again becomes an economic driver of New York State,” said Quinones.

Now, New York State and booking website Tentrr are partnering to open four “hassle-free” campsites at locations along the Erie Canal.

Here, at the historic Yankee Lock, on a thin strip of land between the original Erie Canal and Mohawk River, there are three fully-equipped tents.

Guests won’t even have to bring their sleeping bag – each tent on its own raised platform is equipped with a queen-sized bed. Tent sites are also equipped with Adirondack chairs, picnic tables, and solar-powered “sun” showers.

Tentrr began in the Catskills and now operates at campsites across the country. Company CEO Anand Subramanian…

“A lot of our campers are actually from the cities, and now we have a reason for them to leave the cities and mingle with communities surrounding the cities, giving everybody an opportunity to explore the outdoors as well as bring economic development to the local communities,” said Subramanian.

With the riverside campsite located next to the Empire State Trail pathway, visitors will be able to bike or kayak to sites including the nearby City of Amsterdam.

Donna Larkin is the founder of Upstate Kayak Rentals, which is partnering to offer a pedal-and-paddle “On the Canals” excursion.

“We’re going to start at Port Jackson, we’ll meet you with a basic cruiser bike, you’ll paddle on the bike path, meet us right here at the kayak launch, you’ll paddle back about three miles and through Lock 11, and right back to Port Jackson, hopefully where you can enjoy some lunch, visit town…”

Reflecting on the history of the Erie Canal, New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton said the Yankee Hill site offers campers “a little bit of everything.”

“Put out the campfire, turn yourself in, zip up the tent, turn down the Coleman lantern, and you can almost hear the clip-clop of the mules’ hooves and barge creaking along the canal,” said Stratton.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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