Hiking to Beautiful Vistas in Erie Bluffs State Park

The view from the bluffs overlooking Lake Erie in Erie Bluffs State Park

Nestled along the shimmering shores of Lake Erie, Erie Bluffs State Park is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. This picturesque park, spanning over 500 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania, boasts striking landscapes that showcase the region’s natural beauty. Towering bluffs provide a stunning backdrop to pristine sandy beaches.

Beyond the shoreline, a lush forest beckons, offering a myriad of trails that wind through towering trees and offer panoramic views of the lake. Whether you’re an avid hiker, birdwatcher, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Erie Bluffs State Park promises an unforgettable experience that celebrates the splendor of the great outdoors.

Most of the Lake Erie coastline in Pennsylvania is highly developed. The park boasts the largest undeveloped stretch of land overlooking Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. Thus, this park is a precious example of the wild nature that once stretched along the entire coast of Lake Erie. The park features bluffs approximately 90 feet tall and patches of old-growth forest. The park also shelters rare, endangered and threatened plant species and offers a “world-class” steelhead fishery. Within this small park’s boundaries, you’ll find a savanna ecosystem, wetlands and several archaeological sites.

The Hike

With only a few hours to spend at Erie Bluffs State Park (after driving all day), we followed the Transition Trail toward Lake Erie from the parking lot. Some distance from the water, it forms a small loop, the Bluff Edge Trail. We kept going toward the lake, enjoying an a scenic overlook, high above the water. After grabbing some photos, we turned right, enjoying glimpses of Lake Erie until we reached another scenic, camera-ready overlook. From there, we turned back toward the parking lot, following the trail through an old growth forest and completing the loop as we rejoined the main Transition Trail.

Overall, the trails are well marked with signs and blazes. The trails can be rough and uneven, so wear appropriate hiking shoes. We were struck by the variety of wild flowers — yellow, white, pink and purple — we saw.

We wished we had longer to spend exploring this pleasant little state park. The other trails beckoned, but the rain clouds were ominous and we had another stop to make before heading to our hotel and a meeting in Erie. This is definitely a park worth heading back to!

Know Before You Go

Hiking through the great outdoors can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s important to be prepared and protect yourself from ticks. These tiny arachnids can carry diseases like Lyme disease, so taking precautions is essential.

First, dress appropriately by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes to minimize exposed skin. Tucking your pants into your socks can create a physical barrier that makes it harder for ticks to crawl up your legs. Applying insect repellent containing 20-30% DEET on exposed skin can also be effective in repelling ticks. In addition, staying on marked trails instead of venturing into dense vegetation reduces your chances of coming into contact with ticks.

After your hike, thoroughly check your body and clothing for ticks, paying close attention to warm areas such as the scalp, armpits and groin. Removing ticks promptly with fine-tipped tweezers will help prevent disease transmission. By following these steps, you can enjoy your hike while minimizing the risk of tick bites.

Erie Bluffs State Park is designated as a day-use park, with the exception of fishing and boating. Swimming is prohibited at the park.

Getting there: 11100 W Lake Rd, Lake City, PA
Hours: The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Day use areas close at dusk.
Website: the park

Looking for more to do and see in Erie PA? Check out Visit Erie, as well as the articles below:

  • Asbury Woods — COMING SOON!
  • Downtown Erie Food Tour
  • Erie Bluffs State Park — COMING SOON!
  • Erie Maritime Museum — COMING SOON!
  • Hagen Museum and Watson/Curtze Mansion — COMING SOON!
  • Lady Kate Boat Tour
  • Presque Isle State Park — COMING SOON!
  • Three Historic Lighthouses — COMING SOON!
  • Wintergreen Gorge Hike — COMING SOON!