Kayak the old Erie Canal or explore the foothills of the Adirondacks in this historic small city.
Just 35 miles south of the Adirondacks, this small city is a gateway to central New York. With lakes, marshes, and the Erie Canal, Utica is fascinating for urban adventurers and families alike. The Erie Canal hasn't run directly through Utica for nearly a century. Today, the paved-over waterway is the 13.5-mile Canalway Trail. The flat terrain makes for easy biking. The trail passes the Utica Marsh Wildlife Management Area, a nice spot for nature walks and birding. The Mohawk River is also here, offering a watery view of the shore's shuttered factories and wildlife. To launch, take your canoe to Harbor Road near Genesee Street in Utica. You can also hop aboard an Erie Canal tour boat, with options from group kayaks to house boats. The guides are a great source of Erie history and can explain finer points like the canal's antique locks. Kayakers can pitch tent at Lock 20 in Marcy, NY. The facilities have bathrooms and water, but the first-come, first-serve camping is quite small, so try to arrive early. In nearby Rome, Delta Lake State Park sits on a peninsula jutting into the Delta Reservoir. A popular spot for fishing, the park has a boat launch and a sandy beach with lifeguards during the summer. The camp has spacious sites, some on the waterfront, and each comes with a picnic table and fire ring. The wooded grounds here are relatively flat, making for easy walking along the trails. Pixley Falls State Park is a short drive from Delta Lake. The star of the park is the 50-foot tall waterfall. A hiking trail follows the streams uphill for deeper exploration. The private campgrounds in the Adirondack foothills are great if you want a summer camp vibe. Close to Utica, these camps range from rustic cabins to RV parks and resorts. Several offer extras such as fishing ponds and swimming pools, plus amenities like Wi-Fi and laundry. Utica is well-situated for day trips, with Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes both about 80 miles away. Less than an hour away, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is a must-see for sports fans.