Niagra and/or Chataqua (Jamestown) trip
Thinking about riding from city o’ PIT up to the Falls this summer.
Any suggested routes?
I am pretty familiar with getting to Franklin, PA and up to Titusville.
I am really curious about Titusville to Niagra…or at least to Jamestown, NY. I am sure I could figure the rest from there.
I’d like to stay away from far-West routes that go toward Lake Erie (@ Erie) and run the coast. I’d like to tour Titusville in particular along the way.
I was hoping to keep it to backroads (no rte 18, 19, 6, etc).
jamestown is very far out of the way from nf. i used the following routes from here to buffalo a few years back:
i wasn’t going to nf, or even into buffalo, but if you stick near the lake, getting through the city itself should be pretty easy, then there are trails through tonawanda, and then you take the grand island bridge, take side streets or trails through grand island, and cross the other grand island bridge, and you’re there.
pittsburgh to erie was a huge pain in the ass (literally), but mostly only because it was by far my longest day in the saddle, and the hills didn’t let up. erie to buffalo was a pretty nice ride along the lake for much of it.
edited to add: i grew up in the buffalo area, so ask whatever questions you have.
I grew up in Western NY, south of Buffalo, and know the roads pretty well inland from Lake Erie.
Here’s one possibility: From Titusville, Spring Creek Rd (which I don’t know at all) to Oil Creek Rd to Messinger Rd, cross US6, to Kidder Rd, to PA958 north, to PA957 east, through Sugar Grove, to Jamestown Street, which (through a couple of name changes) takes you to Jamestown NY.
Seek NY394 east. That’s the old NY17 before they made an expressway out of it, so is adapted to 1970-era heavy traffic. Think wide and flat, nice shoulders, and most traffic is local.
Just past East Randolph, peel left onto NY242. Stay on that to Ashford Jct, where you’ll peel left onto NY240. You’ll be on 240 a llllllooooonnnnnnggggg time. If you want to go to the Falls, stay on it allllll the way to the end. Just know that you’ll be on some busy streets as you get into metro Buffalo, but unlike Pittsburgh, everything is fairly wide (so they have someplace to plow the snow onto), and also goes in straight lines.
Anyway, there’s no avoiding traffic, as one thing Western NY does not have is trails along streams. From time to time there’s a decent road along a stream, so here’s how I get you to N.F. from the north end of 240 (a.k.a. Harlem and Sheridan): L Sheridan, R Sweet Home Rd, L South Ellicott Creek Rd, R Colvin Blvd, L Moon Walk (yes, really), which becomes Fillmore, jiggle L-R at Niagara St onto Delaware, becomes Main, R Tremont, L Oliver, …
…then things get dicey. There are only two roads that go west, and they’re both super-busy. I’d L at Ward Rd and go to river’s edge, where there’s a park. When you feel up to it, leave the park, turn L and duke it out on NY384 until L on 1st Street takes you over to Goat Island, and you can’t get much closer to the falls than that.
I grew up in West Falls, along 240, so can tell you that you have a long, gentle downhill for about 10 miles from a bit beyond Springville (which you just miss but might be worth going a mile out of your way if you need supplies) to West Falls, then again a gentle slope from about Orchard Park into the eastern suburbs of Bflo. Most of the eastern and northern areas of metro Bflo are close to flat.
Google bike directions is interesting.
It gives 250+ changes for 258 miles to get from Pgh to TitusVille, to NF, so it doesn’t seem practical without modifications. Worth looking at, though.
It has ideas like following the Freeport-Butler trail for a while.
There is also an on road route in NY state called Bike route 517
There might be a part of the Adventure cycling “Underground railroad” route you could take for part of the trip.
I wonder if Buffalo has a board that you could ask a cycling question of?
so here’s how I get you to N.F. from the north end of 240 (a.k.a. Harlem and Sheridan)…
it would probably be better to a) not be at harlem and sheridan on a bike, and 2) cut through side streets to ub (amherst campus), take the ub bike path (which, btw, is mostly a trail along a stream) to niagara falls boulevard, cross that, head through ellicott creek park, and take creekside drive into tonawanda. i’ve done this from cheektowaga/depew (not that far from harlem/sheridan), and it is exceedingly pleasant.
from there, you could probably take river road all the way into niagara falls. i’ve not ridden that bit, though, but from what i remember, it’s a wide and lightly traveled road, with occasional parks/trails alongside it.
also, my apologies, for some reason i just assumed you’d be traveling through erie. from which jamestown would be very far out of the way. still, if you don’t have reason to go through titusville and jamestown, the routes i posted would have all your climbing done in the first 100 or so miles.
I wonder if Buffalo has a board that you could ask a cycling question of?
last time i spent significant time looking for it (about a year ago), there was nothing to speak of. a club here or there that had a post on its message board every few months, but nothing near this active.
I was trying to avoid suburban thoroughfares like Union or Transit. Keeping a little east makes for less congestion. Maple or Bowen north out of East Aurora make for a nice ride through the countryside. Bowen-Cemetery-Stony is a nice way to get past the city, but unfortunately it’s been built up enough that what once were pleasant country roads are now 45 mph suburban speedways. You might do better to go right into the city itself and use Buffalo’s equivalents of our East Carsons and Brightons and Penns and the like.
Southern Erie County is extremely hilly going east-west, with deep north-south valleys. Aim for one of these valleys (like NY240) and you’ll be fine. Cross into northern Erie, and you’re dealing with a major metro.
If you want a nice approach to the city, aim for Abbott Road, which starts way south of the city near Boston. It has a sprawly feel to it near the Bills’ stadium, then becomes a reasonably pleasant two-lane street into the city. Abbott to South Park to Main (no turns necessary), wiggle over to Delaware Ave, and that will take you straight up to N.F. on city streets.
I tend to agree wtih stulinmcandless (or whatever). Hiddenvariable…if I draw a straight line north from Pittsburgh it seems to point directly to buffalo.
Really don’t want to ride all the way to Erie to then vector to NF. seems long. Plus, having driven rt 18 N all the way to the state line before, the scenery East of i79 is flat and kind of bland. I want to be riding in hills and valleys.
overall, I thank you both for shedding light on what it’s like (road wise) north of the PA border.
my goal is to bang out a stead 150 miles and get to titusville or further north on day one and either just go all the way to Buffalo on day two or slow down for a second and third day.
@williep: Just FYI, US 6 is a signed PA Bike Route; from the portions of it I’ve driven (Pine Creek area), it looks quite lovely for cycling.
FWIW, I motorcycled southbound the path I laid out above from metro Buffalo to Sugar Grove PA, just last summer. I was trying for fuel economy so was quite cognizant of hills. There are a few, but nothing horrid. Nearly all the roads in this region were built for horse-drawn power, which transfers to the bicycle world very well.
Suggestion: Lay out your trip plans on a bike-mapping website like MapMyRide.com and get elevation profiles. You’ll see if there are singularly difficult hills and/or long continuous climbs (and corresponding descents).
@ Stu Nearly all the roads in this region were built for horse-drawn power, which transfers to the bicycle world very well.
Also makes the hostile shout, “This road was made for cars,” easily refutable.
I read a book a bit back, I believe is either this one or one by the Bike Snob that pointed out it was originally cyclists who lobbied for paved roads….
It was quite interesting, the premise seemed to be that a lot of what we see as “car culture” goes back to the early days of cycling. For example early suburbs were populated by cyclists first, then users of mass transit and finally cars.
I can’t vouch for the scholarly quality, but it was an interesting read.
First one to ask me “so what was it like in the early days of cycling?” I’m going to track down and whip with a studded Schwalbe.
I won’t ask, but please make sure you film that encounter…..
Back in the early days, we used to capture wild bicycles out on the prairie. You had to be clever and run fast to catch them.
I’ve driven rte 6 from OH to NJ and found it too be quite a bit too busy for my tastes.
however, it is quite a scenic road!
Anticipating that, that’s why I sent you down an untested county/country road so you could simply cross US6. It’s almost always easier to avoid potholes and groundhogs than 50 mph fenders.
Not to take over the thread or sidetrack anyone but where are you from Stu? I lived in Olean basically my entire youth.Haha from 8-23.
Birth to 6, South Buffalo; 6 to college, West Falls, went to East Aurora HS; college was SUNY Geneseo. My father’s hobby was riding motorcycle enduros all over NY west of I-81, so I developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the roads of western NY. Summer job during college was delivery via motorcycle so also have a pretty thorough mental map of the street system in metro Bflo. I had another summer job in Franklinville, which got me into Olean once in a while, too.
My own hobby around age 20 was to explore abandoned railroads all over WNY, so I also have a pretty firm knowledge base for what paths of travel are good for cycling, even if I haven’t actually ridden it myself.
I used to race in the “Enchanted Mountain Stage Race” at Olean every year. Got 3rd overall one year. wp
My friends and I do an annual ride from Gibson Park in North East to the falls. Here’s the route from two years ago:
Last year we basically followed the same route until we got to Buffalo, then we stuck to trails and skipped downtown altogether, and then north of Buffalo we took the route across Grand Island. I honestly preferred riding through the city. It’s open, flat, totally deserted on the weekends, and has signed bike routes along the whole route. Grand Island is much better than going through Tonawanda (Tonawanda is a dump). We didn’t do it two years ago only because the route was closed due to construction
I know you’re trying to stay a little further East, but I would aim for the lakeshore at least by Silver Spring, NY. The ride gets really interesting from there, going through a state park, past a bunch of quiet beach roads, and in a few spots goes right next to the lake. Buffalo is also really cool to ride through next to the lake…skyline, lake views, abandoned industrial sites, etc.
Here’s the route I mapped prior to last year’s ride: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/641196
I think we mostly followed it (didn’t take my GPS that time), but a friend who knew the trails led us past Buffalo so I couldn’t say for sure.
“I am pretty familiar with getting to Franklin, PA and up to Titusville.”
What route did you take to get to Titusville? I am thinking of riding up to Tidioute sometime and I can get from Titusville to there pretty easy. Thanks.
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