Discover Nature’s Hideaway: Hiking in Erie National Wildlife Refuge

A deer looking directly at you, surrounded by vibrant green grasses and branches.

Escape the city bustle and immerse yourself in nature’s serene beauty at Erie National Wildlife Refuge. Located about an hour from Erie PA, this nearly 9,000-acre sanctuary is a vibrant tapestry of wetlands, forests and grasslands. As a hotspot for biodiversity, you might encounter wildlife, from waterfowl and deer to songbirds and elusive bobcats.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, a hiking enthusiast or someone who loves nature, the refuge is a good place to explore. Discover the world of wildlife conservation through educational programs that shed light on the refuge’s role in nurturing native species. Feel the legacy of the Erie Indians, the land’s original inhabitants, as you traverse trails that prioritize the survival of local flora and fauna.

Check out articles about these other wildlife refuges: Bombay Hook, Blackwater, Prime Hook, Montezuma and Eastern Neck.

At the Erie NWR

On our way home after a full weekend of exploring Erie PA, we chose the 1.6-mile Tsuga Trail, to stretch our legs before the long drive. The trail carried us through dense hemlock forests, wet meadows and over creeks. We saw several deer, a beaver and a cute little rabbit as we wandered through the various habitats. We also heard amazing bird song as we walked through the hemlock forest.

Unlike some trails that offer dramatic “pay-offs,” such as spectacular waterfalls or breath-taking scenic views, Erie NWR’s trails offer something more subtle. Walking the trail helped feed our souls before we headed back into the hustle and bustle of suburban Washington DC – Baltimore metro area.

Birdwatchers, take note: the National Audubon Society has honored Erie National Wildlife Refuge as an Important Bird Area. With its abundant wetlands and diverse habitats, the refuge beckons an impressive 237 bird species. Over 2,500 acres of wetlands teem with migratory birds and 80 types of native fish. Encounter everything from Canada geese and wood ducks to more rare species like pintail and green-winged teal. And keep your eyes peeled for majestic raptors like bald eagles and red-tailed hawks soaring overhead.

Hit the Trails: Erie National Wildlife Refuge offers six miles of trails that lead you through an array of captivating landscapes.

For those who love to observe wildlife up close, don’t miss the Reitz Pond observation blind. Fishing enthusiasts, make your way to the pier at Deer Run trailhead, where you might even spot endangered species like the northern riffleshell and clubshell mussels.

Know Before You Go

While at the refuge, please adhere to Leave No Trace principles. Pack out whatever you pack in, stay on designated trails and respect wildlife and other visitors. Familiarize yourself with the Erie National Wildlife Refuge’s trail map.

Getting there: Route 198E at 11296 Wood Duck Lane, Guys Mills, PA 1
Hours: Daylight
Website: Erie NWR

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