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Presque Isle State Park


Presque Isle State Park & Lighthouse, Erie, Pennsylvania

The sail of the U.S.S. Brig Niagara billows behind the North Pier Light at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA.

Photo courtesy of Erie Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Presque Isle State Park, a national natural landmark and ecological gem, is Pennsylvania's only "seashore." Its 32,000-acre sandy peninsula that juts into Lake Erie offers a unique mix of nature and recreation, including more than 7 miles of pristine beaches, over 320 bird species, a War of 1812 historic site and a paved multipurpose trail.

What to Expect:

Presque Isle is a day use park with year-round recreational opportunities. The Karl Boyes National Recreation Trail provides nearly 14 miles of paved pathways along Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and in-line skaters. The sandy beaches and clear waters of Lake Erie offer great swimming, boating, fishing, water-skiing and scuba diving during the summer, while ice fishing, ice boating and ice skating are popular winter activities. Scenic boat tours are also popular.

Historic Lighthouses:

Presque Isle is actually a sand spit peninsula, not an island. Even its name is French for "almost an island." Because it juts out so far into Lake Erie, lighthouses are necessary to warn boats away. Presque Isle Lighthouse, built in 1872, is still in operation, but not open to visitors. You can get a good look at it from the beach, however. At the eastern tip of the peninsula the Presque Isle North Pierhead has been shining since 1858. Only the grounds are open to the public.

Beaches & Swimming:

The sandy beaches and clear waters of Presque Isle State Park offer the only surf swimming in Pennsylvania, and have earned a place in the nation's "Top 100 Swimming Holes" listed by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Presque Isle beaches are open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Regular hours are 10am to 7:30pm. Beaches 1, 6, 7 and 11 offer fairly shallow swimming areas and the best facilities for families. You can check the current beach conditions and water quality at Earth 911.

Boating & Fishing:

Fishing - Presque Isle Bay and the park's many ponds, bays and piers attract anglers for bass, walleye, northern pike and crappie, while Lake Erie offers some of the best game fishing on the lower Great Lakes. A special Lake Erie fishing permit is required to fish in Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay or their tributaries.

Boating - Four launching areas are available in the park for both non-powered and registered powered craft. If you don't have a boat, a variety of powered and non-powered boats, canoes and other watercraft are available from a rental concession on the park's southeast shore.

Birding & Bird Watching:

Presque Isle State Park is a great stop for bird watching, rated by Birder's World magazine as one of the top birding spots in the country. Presque Isle's location along the Atlantic Flyway and its ecological diversity support over 320 recorded species of migrating and indigenous birds. Exhibits and displays detailing these birds and other natural wonders can be seen at the Stull Interpretive Center, located near Barracks Beach.

Presque Isle Scenic Boat Tours:

Experience the scenic beauty of the Lake Erie waterfront while viewing three historic lighthouses on the 65-foot great lakes vessel, "Lady Kate." The 14-mile, 90-minute narrative tours and sunset cruises run seasonally: mid-May through September 30. Call 800-988-5780 or visit Presque Isle Boat Tours for reservations.

Places to Stay Near Presque Isle State Park:

Visitors to Presque Isle State Park enjoy a variety of lodging options, including everything from upscale hotels to a tent by the lakeshore. Cottage rentals are extremely popular and are available from Kelso Beach Rentals and Swanson's Resort Cottages. There are also more than two dozen Erie hotels within 10 miles of the park. A few private campgrounds offer lakeshore camping adjacent to Presque Isle State Park.

Directions to Presque Isle State Park:

Presque Isle State Park can be reached by PA Hwy 832 or by boat.

From New York and North
Take NY State Thruway to I-90W. Follow I-90 to PA I-79N to the 2nd W. 12th St. exit. Take the exit and follow 12th St. west to Hwy 832 (Peninsula Drive). Make a right and follow Peninsula Dr. into the park.

From Pittsburgh and the South
Take I-79N toward Erie to the second 12th St. exit. Follow 12th St. to Hwy 832 (Peninsula Drive). Make a right and follow Peninsula Drive into the park.

From Cleveland and the East or West
Follow I-90 to Hwy 832 (Peninsula Drive). Take a left off the exit and follow about 8 miles directly to the park.

Presque Isle State Park
301 Peninsula Drive, Suite 1
Erie, PA 16505
(814) 833-7424

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