Hiking at Erie Bluffs State Park

Erie Bluffs State Park is one of PA’s newest state parks, and surely one of its most unique.  This park has a hiking experience unlike any other in the state.  Imagine hiking with the sound of the surf, with views across Lake Erie, which may as well be a freshwater ocean.  There is a beach, inlets, ravines, and trees of impressive size.  The trails that exist here are far more extensive than what is shown on the map.  I do not know if these trails are official.  For the best hike, you should incorporate these trails (brown on the map).  They often have some blazes, but not always, and are clearly established.  They are also very curvy.  They appear to primarily be used by mountain bikers.  The hiking here is relatively easy, but you should be good with navigation to use the brown trails on the map above.

From the parking area, begin on the Transition Trail as it crosses fields with bird houses.  There are also many wildflowers.  The trail follows a woodline and reaches a four-way intersection.  Turn right on the Lookout Trail as it follows the edge of the gorge and offers the first views of the giant hardwood trees that call this park home.  Some of the trees here are gigantic, with oak, maple and tulip poplar.  Erie Bluffs is the Cook Forest of hardwood trees.  Reach another intersection; the view here is ok.  Follow an unblazed trail down the slope to superb view of the lake from the top of the bluffs.  The forests are unique at top of the bluffs; it is open with hardwoods.  Be careful along the bluffs, as they are eroding.  It is awesome to hike with sounds of the surf and views of the lake.

Follow the unblazed trail down to the Fisherman’s Foot Path and walk out onto the beach and inlet of Elk Creek.  Enjoy the beautiful scenery.  It is hard to believe you are in Pennsylvania.  Retrace your steps back up to the Bluffs Edge Trail.   Where that trail makes a sharp left, continue straight on an obvious trail.  These trail meanders wildly, around ravines and back to the bluffs with some views.  The scenery is unique, and the ravines are almost 100 feet deep.  You may notice some different paint blazes on the trees, but the trails do not have signs.  I tended to keep turning right to get to the bluffs, and then the trails would veer left to go around the ravines.  

We then reached the Timber Trail and followed it for a while, passing more giant hardwoods and beautiful forests.  We then turned right again for one of the most scenic parts of the hike as the trail followed the edge of a deep ravine, and then followed the top of the bluffs.  It was beautiful with the wind, surf, and views.  Next was the yellow West Overlook Trail along the edge of Duck Run’s ravine.  We found a trail to drop into the ravine and it was stunning to walk down it with the creek and huge trees.  We hiked to the shore with views of the lake and a small slide where Duck Run flowed into the lake.  When it is calm, and the lake is low, it is possible to hike along the shore.  I hear it is an amazing experience.

We hiked out along the Duck Run Trail, dropped back into the scenic ravine, and followed the Whitetail Crossing and Black Oak Savanna Trails, which crossed more fields and meadows with wildflowers.  Next was a right turn on the Transition Trail back to the parking area.  

This route was 8-9 miles long.  Parking is at 42.015128, -80.376735.  While in the area, visit famous Presque Isle State Park and the city of Erie, which has many breweries. 

Scroll through the photos.  

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