Monday, March 11, 2013

Local wilderness vacations: Shades Beach

For my 3rd installment, featuring wild places to explore locally I'd like to offer Shades Beach in Harborcreek Township.  While it doesn't offer the ranging trails and acres of trees that places like Asbury Woods has to offer, Shades beach is a wonderful place to play and explore.

The above map was taken directly from the Harborcreek Township website dedicated to Shades beach, and it outlines your options quite well.

If you've never been there, and would like to check it out, a warm Sunday is a tremendous option.  Especially if you've got a little guy with an abundance of energy, like in the first picture above. Just south of the main parking lot is a large picnic pavilion that is available to rent.  Immediately next to the pavilion are two nearly brand new playground sets.  Great options for a small picnic with kids, or even your next family reunion.

For the adventurous sorts there are a couple acres of woods that can be explored.  While the map does not outline any formal trails, I'm sure you will stumble upon several well used routes through the woods. These woods are bordered by a wonderful example of the natural cliffs, which surround the Great Lakes.  Unlike Presque Isle and its very typical sand and beach structures, most of the shoreline of the Great Lakes are actually rather steep cliffs.  These cliffs graphically display the geology of our region, with layers of shale topped by clay and topsoil.  Then just a narrow strip of beach separates the cliff and the water.

Even with the narrow strip of beach there is still room for the sun lovers among us if you're looking for a more out of the way area to work on your tan.  For the boaters, the ample parking lot and long boat ramp are a great access point to explore Lake Erie, east of the city.

Finally, one of the best reasons to visit Shades beach is the sunsets.  As a result of the angle of Lake Erie's shoreline it has been said that our summer sunsets rival some of the best sunsets in the world.  I'm not hardly a world traveller, but I was reminded by a friend last week of how beautiful the sunsets are at Shades beach when she posted a photo to Twitter.

It might be a small out of the way little park, but Shades beach truly has a lot to offer for all of us in northwest PA.

Happy Exploring
Scott M

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