New York Nature June 06, 2022
Follow The Shores Of The Great Lakes Along This Scenic Drive Through New York
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a designated National Scenic Byway that takes drivers on a beautiful route along the shores of the Great Lakes. This trail is 518 miles in length overall, but 454 of those miles are in New York state; the rest of the trail is in Pennsylvania. This
incredibly scenic drive will take participants through four distinct regions of New York – Lake Erie/Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Rochester/Central Lake Ontario, Eastern Lake Ontario, and Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River – and it’s spectacular all the way. If you’re looking for an adventure that’s filled with New York beauty, then this is it. Read on to learn more.
The Seaway Trail was first designated as a scenic byway in 1978; at that time it only included the northernmost 80-mile stretch. During the 1980s, it was extended across the state of New York. The final section in Pennsylvania was included in 1996. Originally simply called the Seaway Trail, it received its full name - The Great Lakes Seaway Trail - in 2010.
This route is recognized as a state scenic byway in both New York and Pennsylvania, and it gained status as one of the nation's first National Scenic Byways in 1996.
If you start from the western end in New York near Pennsylvania, you'll begin by viewing the immense beauty of Lake Erie. This part of the state is wine country; there are 23 wineries in Chautauqua County and some of them are right on the shores of the lake. You can also visit Lake Erie State Park here.
The biggest city that you'll encounter on this trip is Buffalo, which is New York's second largest city. The Seaway Trail leaves the coast here for a bit but you'll find that there is much beauty to see in Buffalo as well. The Art Deco style architecture in this historic city is not to be missed.
As you head northward, you'll get a few final views of Lake Erie, and you can see the Buffalo Main Lighthouse which stands at 60' tall and was built in 1833 at the mouth of the Buffalo River.
Next, you can visit world famous Niagara Falls. This is one of New York's most stunning natural wonders. It also unintentionally symbolizes our friendship with Canada, as we share Horseshoe Falls with our neighbors to the north.
As you make your way east along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, you'll see fantastic views of Lake Ontario, the smallest of the five Great Lakes. This sunset image was taken from Youngstown, New York, about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester.
Rochester is a city that established and grew due to its proximity to Lake Ontario. Today it's our state's third largest city. This byway goes around Irondequoit Bay and through Rochester, but you can cross over the Irondequoit Bay Bridge here instead if you prefer.
Many people remark that the Great Lakes almost seem like oceans when you stand on their shores. This photo, taken in Sodus Point, east of Rochester, shows that Great Lakes beaches are very special indeed.
Oswego is a small town best known for being the home of SUNY Oswego. It's located at the point in your journey on this byway where you will stop heading east and will begin to head north along Lake Ontario's shores. The wildlife here is abundant.
Sackets Harbor, on the eastern end of Lake Ontario near Watertown, is an excellent place to enjoy a sunset.
North of Watertown, the lake ends, but that doesn't mean that your scenic views will. Here, you'll begin your path along the St. Lawrence River, which creates a narrower international border between New York and Canada than Lake Ontario does. This region is known as the Thousand Islands Region because of the many islands in this river. There are 1,864 in total here.
Finally, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail ends at the Seaway International Bridge that crosses the St. Lawrence River into Canada. Crossing it is a wonderful way to end a memorable trip.
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a glorious way to see some of the best of New York state. You’ll see stunning views the entire way and you’ll learn much about this part of the Empire State on your journey. This route will take a few days to complete but your time investment will be well worth it. Safe travels, and enjoy your trip!
After this, if you’re looking for more breathtaking scenic drives in New York, check out this post:
These 8 Beautiful Byways In New York Are Perfect For A Scenic Drive Address: Seaway Trail, Diana, NY 13648, USA