Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Local Wilderness Vacations: Presque Isle

As the second installment of my occasional series highlighting local attractions with a wilderness theme, today I want to talk about Presque Isle.  To call it a gem in PA's state park system is quite a statement, but having visited many state parks in person, I'm not ashamed to make this claim.  Not to disparage any of the other state parks.  I've had many enjoyable trips in our lovely corner of the state. 

Presque Isle is a collection of some of the most unique and diverse habitats in the state. Being that the park is managed for tourism, the hiking and biking trails are exceptionally well maintained.  If you're not a beach person, and I'm not a beach person, I'd urge you to explore the hiking trails.  PresqueIsle.org has a wealth of information about the entire park, but their trails map is the best I've come across.  Many of these trails are easily accessible, and are an enjoyable way to spend several hours.  Better yet, the trails serve as a jumping off point for "off-road" exploration. After all the park is surrounded by water, and several roads, you're not going to get lost for long if you venture off the trails.

For the history buffs at the far end of Presque Isle is Perry's Monument erected to commemorate Oliver Hazard Perry's victory over the British during the war of 1812.  While the battle took place in the western end of Lake Erie, Perry's fleet was built right here in Erie.  The fleet even spend a winter harbored in Misery Bay, so named because of the miserable conditions the crew faced that winter.  Nearby to Misery Bay is Cemetery pond, again an area named for the horrible conditions and the sailors that were laid to rest in that pond.

Even on inclement days the park is fascinating to explore.  In the above picture the winds were incredibly strong, and blew parallel to the shoreline creating these amazing little sand devils swirling across the beach.

So much to explore, but for many of us who grew up nearby, we often take it for granted of what an awesome expanse of nature we have at our doorstep. 

Happy Exploring
Scott M

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