Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania's only "seashore," Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling and in-line skating. A National Natural Landmark, Presque Isle is a favorite spot for migrating birds. Because of the many unique habitats, Presque Isle contains a greater number of the state's endangered, threatened and rare species than any other area of comparable size in Pennsylvania.
The gateway to Presque Isle is the new Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC). An educational center at heart, TREC is dedicated to teaching visitors about Presque Isle and the many different forms of life that inhabit this unique peninsula. TREC also serves as a center for research, contributing to conservation efforts and promoting environmental awareness, helping to preserve the unparalleled beauty of Presque Isle. There is free admission to the interactive exhibits and the 75-foot observation tower.
Presque Isle is a day use park that provides year-round recreational opportunities. Overnight accommodations are available nearby. (Nearly 11 miles of hiking trails appeal to hikers, nature walkers and cross-country skiers. The paved Karl Boyes Multi-purpose National Recreation Trail provides nearly 14 miles of scenic trail along Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and in-line skaters.) Presque Isle offers swimming, boating, fishing and beautiful sandy beaches to its summer visitors. Winter enthusiasts visit the park to enjoy the outdoors and participate in a variety of ice and snow activities. At the TREC, large -format movies, guided tours and other activities are available . A program guide is available on the TREC Web site or call 814-833-7424 to learn more about activities and times the TREC opens and closes each day.
Picnicking: Picnic facilities with tables, grills and charcoal disposals are available throughout the park, some are ADA accessible. Refer to the map for locations.
Picnic Pavilions: A number of picnic pavilions are available for rental, accommodating from 30 to 200 people. Please make advance reservations by calling 888-PA-PARKS. Pavilions that are not reserved are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. There are accessible fishing piers, picnic pavilions, picnic tables and grills at the East Pier and West Pier areas.
Picnic Shelters: There are four enclosed day use picnic shelters in the Waterworks Area. Shelters include electricity, water, picnic tables and a fireplace. Advanced reservations must be made by calling 888-PA-PARKS.
Make a reservation.
Swimming: The sandy beaches, washed by the clear waters of Lake Erie, provide visitors with the only surf swimming within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Beaches are open daily from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day unless otherwise posted. The regular hours are 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information call Lifeguard Headquarters (seasonal) 814-833-0526.
Beach 1: This long stretch of sand is located near the park entrance and has a beach house (without concessions).
Barracks Beach: Near Beach 1, this beach has modern restrooms and three first-come, first-served picnic pavilions.
Beach 6: This large beach has sand volleyball courts, a beach house with changing areas, restrooms, and a food and beverage concession.
Beach 7 (Waterworks Beach): In addition to modern restrooms, this beach features a ramp that provides ADA access to the water's edge and is adjacent to picnic areas, including playground equipment and pavilions.
Beach 8 (Pettinato Beach): (Pettinato Beach): This wide expanse of sandy beach has a beach house with changing areas, restrooms, and food and beverage concession.
Mill Road Beaches: (Stone Jetty, Short Jetty, Saw Mill, Ainsworth, Goddard) These beaches allow visitors to enjoy unspoiled, relatively quiet beaches. Restrooms are located at Short Jetty and Saw Mill. The Mill Road beaches incorporate swimming areas with shaded picnic facilities.
Beach 9 (Pine Tree): This beach has picnic facilities, a picnic pavilion and a restroom.
Beach 10 (Budny Beach): Equipped with a beach house with changing areas, restrooms, and food and beverage concession, this beach lies between the Sunset Point area (popular with kite flyers and wind surfers) and Gull Point.
Beach 11: This is the most sheltered beach and features shallow water, a large sandy beach, and a beach house with changing areas, restrooms, and a food and beverage concession and is adjacent to picnic areas, including playground equipment and a picnic pavilion.
Boating: Non-powered craft and registered motorboats are permitted. Internal combustion engines are prohibited in the interior lagoons, which are defined as the continuous body of water between Misery Bay and Marina Bay, excluding Grave Yard Pond. A boat rental concession is located in the Grave Yard Pond area and provides a variety of powered and non-powered craft. Beaching of boats along Presque Isle shoreline is permitted except at the Gull Point Natural Area between April 1 and November 30, and within 100 feet of designated swimming areas. A slow minimum height swell speed must be observed within all park waters which includes all waters within 500 feet of the shoreline.
Water conditions can change dramatically in a very short period of time. Please heed all weather notices. Listen to marine channel 16, the Coast Guard Emergency Channel on a VHF radio, or NOAA Weather Radio 162.400 MHZ, for current boating conditions.
Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Non-powered boats must display one of the following: boat registration; launching permit or mooring permit from Pennsylvania State Parks, available at most state park offices; launching permit from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Complete information on boating rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Boat Launches: A total of four launching areas are available which can accommodate various sizes of craft. Vista Launch is only recommended for small watercraft and personal watercraft (jet skis). Niagara Launch has two ramps and can accommodate small to medium sized craft. West Pier Launch area is the largest facility with four launching lanes and is recommended for larger watercraft. The Lagoon Launch area can accommodate small to medium sized craft.
Fluctuations in lake levels may impact launching procedures.
Marina: A marina with nearly 500 slips that can accommodate boats up to 42 feet in length is open May 1 through October 31. Individuals wishing to moor their craft on a permanent or temporary basis need to contact the marina office or park office to determine slip availability as waiting lists exist for permanent assignments.
For more information call the Marina Office (seasonal) at 814-833-0176 or 814-833-7424.
A park concession, located in the marina, has gasoline and diesel fuel, a sewage pump-out station, and a variety of food and refreshment items.
Water-skiing: Water skiing is permitted in Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie. Water skiing is prohibited within 500 feet of the shore except for the purpose of takeoff or approach.
Presque Isle Scenic Boat Tours: Departing from Perry Monument on Presque Isle State Park, experience the scenic beauty of the Peninsula and Erie waterfront while viewing three historic lighthouses on the 65-foot great lakes vessel, "Lady Kate." The 14-mile, 90-minute tour ventures out onto the open waters of Lake Erie. You will view Presque Isle's shores, Erie's skyline, lighthouses, ships, the beaches, Gull Point Nature Preserve, wildlife and numerous other sights. Live narration takes place on each tour by knowledgeable guides that identify and describe points of interest while they supply enlightening information about the area's ecology, history, development, nature and more. Tour departures vary seasonally: Mid-May through Mid-June and after Labor day through September 30; are Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. The summer season of mid-June through Labor day; are 7 days per week 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and sunset cruises which depart 1 hour prior to sunset. Group tours may be booked for any day or time. Call for reservations local 814-836-0201 or toll free 800-988-5780. Cruise schedules and prices are subject to change. Any trip may be cancelled due to sever weather, mechanical difficulties, or fewer reservations than required.
Presque Isle Canoe and Boat Livery: On Graveyard Pond across from Misery Bay, the boat rental offers canoes, kayaks, small motorboats and pontoon boats for rent. The boat livery is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m .on weekends during mid-April through mid-October. For further information call 814-838-3938.
Recreational Scuba Diving: Recreational scuba diving is permitted in designated waters of Presque Isle State Park. Divers must be certified and must register at the park office and receive information on waters open for diving. Snorkeling is not permitted in Presque Isle State Park waters.
Fishing: Common species are perch, bass, walleye, trout and steelhead in Lake Erie, and panfish, perch, bass, muskellunge, walleye, northern pike, crappies, smelt and steelhead in Presque Isle Bay. Bowfishing is permitted. Popular shore fishing locations are Waterworks and Ferry Dock ponds, East and West piers, Perry Monument, North Pier, lagoons and all boat landings. There are accessible fishing piers, picnic pavilions, picnic tables and grills at the East Pier and West Pier areas.
Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: Hunting is prohibited in the park except for controlled duck and goose hunting in season. Hunting is restricted to designated and authorized blinds only. Regulated wildlife management hunts may be conducted if needed.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 11 miles of trails
Fox Trail: This trail winds through wooded swamps and oak-maple forests. It is maintained and groomed as a cross-country ski trail in the winter. (.5 miles)
Old Gas Well Trail: This trail follows a ridge between Beach 7 and the Marina. The trail passes a gas well that produces gas used at Presque Isle State Park. (.5 miles)
Canoe Portage Trail: This short walk between sand dunes and forest connects Pettinato Beach (Beach 8) to Marina Lake. (.25 miles)
Ridge Trail: This trail follows the edge of Cranberry Pond along a portion of ridge that was a beach dune 300 years ago. (.5 miles)
Marsh Trail: This trail bisects Cranberry Pond, one of the many ponds on Presque Isle. The pond formed as water was trapped between two ridges. (.25 miles)
Sidewalk Trail: This historic trail was originally constructed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service as a path from the Presque Isle Lighthouse to the U.S. Lighthouse Service boathouse in Misery Bay. The trail was once a wooden boardwalk and was resurfaced with concrete in 1925. (1.25 miles)
Dead Pond Trail: This trail leads over several former dunes and through several distinct ecological zones. You will walk through oak-maple forest, pines and sandplains. (2 miles)
A-Trail: This short trail connects Pine Tree Picnic Area to Dead Pond Trail and passes through a vernal pond. When the vernal pond fills with water in the spring, the trail is wet. (.2 miles)
B-Trail: This short trail connects Pine Tree Road to Dead Pond Trail and passes through a stand of pines. (.25 miles)
Pine Tree Trail: This trail follows the edge of a sandplain community and a stand of pines. Located along this trail are the remains of the Biology Field Lab that was used by Dr. O. E. Jennings to study plant succession on Presque Isle. (.7 miles)
Gull Point Trail: This trail begins at the kiosk at the east end of the Budny Beach (Beach 10) parking lot and makes a loop through Gull Point. At the southeast end of the loop, a trail leads to the edge of the Special Management Area and an observation platform for viewing shorebirds. (1.5 miles)
North Pier Trail: This trail follows the shoreline between North Pier and Beach 11, along one of the sand ridges. An old firing range used for training during World War II may be seen along this trail. (.7 miles)
Grave Yard Pond Trail: This trail follows the shoreline along Grave Yard Pond, which as legend has it was the final resting place for many of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's men during the winter of 1813-1814. Two boat landings along the trail offer scenic views of the lagoons and Big Pond (.75 miles)
Long Pond Trail: This trail follows the shoreline of Long Pond, one of the ponds within the lagoon. Approximately halfway along this trail is a boat landing. The landing is a popular fishing spot and offers a scenic view of the lagoon. (1 mile) Duck Pond Trail: This trail begins at Duck Pond and intersects the Canoe Portage Trail and connects with the Old Gas Well Trail. (.5 miles)
Duck Pond Trail: This trail begins at Duck Pond and intersects the Canoe Portage Trail and connects with the Old Gas Well Trail. (.5 miles)
Biking: 13.5 miles of trails
Yellow Bike Rentals: In the Waterworks Pumphouse area, near the Cookhouse Pavilion, the bike rental offers bicycles, four wheeled surreys, tricycles, roller blades and paddle boats for rent. The bike rental is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends during May and September, weather permitting. For further information call 814-835-8900.
In addition to recreational activities, experience the natural wonders of Presque Isle during the winter months. Look for the impressive ice dunes, formed by the combination of lake ice, wave surge and freezing spray. Take a walk along the beach and you will likely see animal footprints in the snow.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: The trails of the park can be skiied, conditions permitting.
Winter Concession: In Shelter 1 near the Waterworks Ponds, the concession offers cross country skis and snowshoes for rent. The concession is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends beginning mid-November through March, provided suitable snow conditions exist.
Ice Fishing: Presque Isle Bay and Misery Bay are popular for ice fishing. Ice thickness is not monitored. Be sure to carry safety equipment.
Ice Skating: Presque Isle Bay and Misery Bay are popular for skating on the natural ice surface. Ice thickness is not monitored. Be sure to carry safety equipment
Iceboating: Presque Isle Bay is popular for iceboating. Ice thickness is not monitored. Be sure to carry safety equipment.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
Environmental Education: All are welcome to the environmental education programs offered at Presque Isle and the Tom Ridge Center, whether you are a teacher, student scout or someone who wants to learn more about the environment, Presque Isle has a program for you. A new offering in environmental education for students is the Presque Isle Curriculum. This series offers student of all ages the opportunity to engage themselves in the resources of the park. This program also helps meet the Pennsylvania Academic Standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Environment and Ecology, Science and Technology and more.
If you are a Boy Scot of Girl Scout contact the park about their Scout Days. These programs are specifically designed for the scouting community to help meet requirements for badges, pins, achievements and more. If you are part of a large scout group, contact the park office about programs designed for your group needs.
Summertime sees many youths at Presque Isle taking part in the Pennsylvania State Parks’ Youth Environmental Learning Series (YELS). Young people who participate in YELS not only learn about the peninsula environment, they earn patches. The program is designed to meet different learning levels from pre-schoolers through high school aged youth.
Public Programs: There is something for everyone on the peninsula. Environmental educators at Presque Isle offer educational program throughout the year. Whether you are interested in history, art, wildlife, plants, or just want to take a hike with a leader, you’ll find it at Presque Isle. Pontoon boat rides through the interior of the peninsula provide opportunities to view abundant wildlife and scenic views. Kayaking the lagoons and going at your own pace is very popular. If you like to bike, take the paved multi-purpose trail that forms a large loop through the park. Nighttime is a great time to take in a community program offered by park staff. Don’t limit yourself to just coming to Presque Isle in the summer-spring, fall and winter are all great times for exploration. Crowds tend to lessen after the summer season, and the peace and solitude of the park are in full swing. You might want to take in the spring and fall migrations of waterfowl, do snowshoeing or cross-country skiing or just take in a beautiful sunset along the beach. Contact the park at 814-833-7424 for seasonal programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is ADA accessible. Accessible picnic tables and parking spaces have been designated throughout the park. All restrooms at Presque Isle State Park are accessible. The 13.5-mile Multi-purpose National Recreational Trail consists entirely of a paved surface and provides access throughout the park. Access to surf-type swimming is provided via a ramp and mats at Waterworks Beach (Beach 7). There are accessible fishing piers, picnic pavilions, picnic tables and grills at the East Pier and West Pier areas, which also provide spectacular views of Presque Isle Bay and the skyline of Erie. The Stull Interpretive Center is accessible.
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.