Touring the Byway
26 Miles | 4 Days / 3 Nights | Gateway City: Saratoga Springs, New York
We recommend starting your journey in Saratoga Springs, where you can explore the original vision of Gideon Putnam to create a spa resort in the middle of the wilderness. Stop at the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitors Center and learn a bit about the town on one or all of five walking tours. A tour of the Saratoga National Historical Park, location of the first defeat of the British Army in the American Revolution, and the Saratoga Springs History Museum reveals the timeless history of the Saratoga Springs area. And of course, you must “take the waters” at Saratoga Spa State Park, as so many have before you. An overnight at the Inn at Saratoga puts you right in the center of town and within walking distance to the Beekman Street Arts District and lots of downtown restaurants.
On Day Two, you’ll be on your way to Cohoes and the Riverspark Cohoes Visitor Center, where you can begin with the 20 minute video, “A Day in the Life of Cohoes: 1882,” and learn about the Erie Canal lock system. From there, it’s on to Waterford, settled in 1633. Learn the history of this quaint little town at the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center and right next door, visit Champlain Canal Lock 4, before taking the walking tour of Waterford with 29 stops featuring many original structures still standing from the Canal era.
View the Detailed Itinerary below to see the full route, which is complete with dining, shopping, and lodging recommendations!
A short drive from downtown takes you to the beautiful park that surrounds the Waterford Flight Locks E-2 through E-6 which lift vessels 169 feet from the Hudson River to the Mohawk River to bypass Cohoes Falls. These five large locks replaced the original 16 locks it took to get through Cohoes on the original canal system. The panoramic views from the park are impressive.
In the fall of 1777 American forces gained a crucial victory, the first surrender of the British Army during the Revolutionary War. It renewed the patriots’ hopes for independence, secured essential foreign recognition and support, and forever changed the world. Tour the Neilson House, the sole surviving structure that witnessed the Battle of Saratoga, Schuyler House, built in 1777 right after the British burned the second house, the Saratoga Surrender Site, Victory Woods, and the Wilkerson Trail, the same path soldiers marched to battle.
This unique neighborhood is home to more than 40 pre-Revolutionary houses in architectural styles that include Dutch Colonial, Georgian, and Federal. It was New York’s first local historic district recognized 300 years after its founding, described by the the National Park Service as “the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country.” A walking tour of the district is offered by the Schenectady Historical Society.
Originally named Halfmoon after Henry Hudson’s ship, which was likely stopped by the “riffs” at North Waterford, Waterford is the oldest incorporated town in New York State. Local history from the Early Dutch Period is carefully preserved in the quaint, colonial village with narrow, tree lined streets.
The Mohawk River drops 90 feet over Cohoes (Native American for falling canoe) Falls which made it an impediment to a water route through the Appalachians, creating the need for the first lock system to span the gap. Enjoy spectacular views during high water, the most exciting time to experience the thundering falls.