Presque Isle State Park is a seven mile long peninsula extending into Lake Erie. This forms Preque Isle Bay, which is finest natural harbor on the Great Lakes. Presque Isle draws more visitors annually than Yellowstone, and very diverse activities are available, from fishing and paddling to in-line skating, all types of boating, and beach going. The park offers many great places for paddling in sheltered waters and also on the bay and lake.
For the quiet, back to nature experience, try the lagoons that connect Misery Bay to the Marina Lake. No internal combustion engines are permitted in the lagoons, and the entire area is a nature preserve. Muskrats, Great Blue Herons, and Whitetail Deer may be seen in these secluded areas, as well as an abundance of Water Lilies. Fishing for Bass or Panfish is popular here. Other than the occasional fisherman with an electric motor, the only traffic you will encounter will be other paddlers.
The favored launching spot is the Lagoon Boat Ramp, which offers ample parking and picnic facilities. For the more adventurous, there is the open water experience on Presque Isle Bay and in Lake Erie. The bay offers many coves and areas that cannot be accessed by most larger boats. The far west end, or head of the bay is abundant with waterfowl, and the remains of two old wooden vessels may be seen here.
Boat traffic can be very heavy here on weekends and holidays. Wind and wave conditions can change rapidly here, so be sure to check the weather forecasts before beginning an open-water excursion.
On the lake side, you can explore the open waters, play in the surf when conditions are favorable, or just enjoy the beaches. The eastern tip of the Peninsula (as it is referred to by locals) is a shorebird sanctuary that is off-limits to people from April to October. If you tire of paddling, there are numerous hiking trails, picnic areas, and a bike path that circles the entire park.
For something different, check out the houseboats on Horseshoe Pond, which is accessed from the east side of Misery Bay. Commodore Perry's fleet spent the winter prior to the Battle of Lake Erie here, which gave this large cove its name. There is a monument to Perry and his men here, and scenic boat tours are available.
This is a day use facility only. There are campgrounds adjacent to the park, and many hotels in the area. Picnic pavilions, boat ramps, multi-use trail, and boat rentals are available. There is handicap access to most areas of the park.
Valid fishing license is required for that activity. Canoes and kayaks may require a launch permit or a valid state registration.
From Interstate 79 take Exit 183B to west on 12th Street (Alt Rt 5) to State Route 832. Take SR 832 to park entrance. From I-90 take Exit 18 to north on SR 832 to the park entrance.
Information is available at the state park website (www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/presqueisle.aspx) or from the Presque Isle Partnership (www.presqueisle.org).
Park maps are available at the park office and are recommended for first-time visitors.