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10 Things to Do in Winter at Presque Isle

Friday Dec 1st, 2023

Bundle up with your boots, scarves, and gloves because it’s time to explore Presque Isle State Park in the wintertime! Although Presque Isle is mainly known for its sandy beaches, there are many ways to enjoy and explore the park’s natural beauty any time of year. Here are 10 things to do at Presque Isle that will lift your winter spirits and banish those seasonal blues.

For a map of Presque Isle State Park and its trails, click here.

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1. Snowshoe on Long Pond Trail

This one-mile trail follows the shoreline of Long Pond, one of the ponds within the park’s lagoon, near the entrance to the east pier. The trail is ideal for snowshoe exploration and has great opportunities to see some of the park’s wildlife population, including some very active beavers that typically cut a noticeable path through the trail near the eastern trailhead. Other snowshoe trails at the park include Pine Tree Trail and Ridge Trail.

2. Educate and Explore at TREC

Although not physically attached to Presque Isle, the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (affectionately referred to as “TREC”) is considered the gateway to Presque Isle and an introduction to how the peninsula formed more than a thousand years ago from glaciers and ice melt. This fascinating (and free) attraction features hands-on, educational exhibits, a glass-enclosed observation tower, and Presque Isle Gallery and Gifts.

3. Spot a Snowy Owl at Gull Point

The snowy owl is the largest of the North American owls and is mainly white with black and brown markings. Some snowy owls are known to migrate from their summer nests near the Arctic Circle to parts of southern Canada and the northern rim of the United States, including Presque Isle. The best place to catch a glimpse of a snowy owl is Gull Point, where they perch on land and short posts waiting for prey. To protect the ecologically fragile area, visitors must use the designated observation platform and trail.

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4. Cross-Country Ski on Fox Trail

The half-mile Fox Trail is across from the Presque Isle Lighthouse, winding through wooded swamps and oak-maple trees, providing a picturesque, forested byway between the Sidewalk Trail and a portion of the Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose Trail. Other trails that are maintained for cross-country skiing include the Sidewalk Trail and Dead Pond Trail.

5. Catch a Winter Sunset

Presque Isle is known for its world-class sunsets, but in winter it’s a special sight to behold. When the sun sets on the horizon between the snow-dusted sand and the frozen lake, it’s simply breathtaking. Whether you bundle yourselves up on the beach or enjoy the coziness of your car, it is a gorgeous sight to behold. The best spot to catch this amazing show is at Sunset Point, also known as Kite Beach.

6. Take a Brisk Hike

The Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose Trail sets the perfect stage to enjoy a tranquil stroll along Presque Isle Bay, breathing in the fresh, crisp air among scenic surroundings. In winter, the trail is regularly cleared of snow from the park’s main entrance to the public safety building, so visitors can negotiate the path with ease.  

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7. Drive Through Beauty with a Scenic Drive

Experience the winter wonders of Presque Isle from the cozy comfort of your vehicle as you meander through the park’s 13-mile paved loop. To maintain the park’s natural condition and protect its natural inhabitants, the main road is cleared of snow but it is not treated with salt or chemicals.    

8. Wildlife Watching

Presque Isle’s location on the Atlantic Flyway makes it a favorite spot for birds to stop to feed and rest on their migration across Lake Erie. More than 330 species of birds have been identified on the peninsula during the winter including geese, swans, and a wide variety of owls. There is a variety of winter wildlife found throughout the park including white-tailed deer, foxes, beavers, rabbits, and raccoons.

Ice Fishing X3 Gibbens

9. Admire Frozen Ice Dunes

Ice dunes form as a result of cold Lake Erie waters, icy temperatures, and strong winds coming together. Found on the lakeside of Presque Isle, ice dunes help to preserve the beaches and protect them from sand erosion. Ice dunes are lovely to look at, but admire them from a distance, as their extreme instability makes close encounters hazardous. Capture their splendor through a photograph so the memories last long after the dunes melt away.

10. Ice Fishing

The sheltered, frozen waters of Presque Isle Bay, Misery Bay, Horseshoe Pond, and Presque Isle Marina are great locations for ice fishing. Common catches are yellow perch, panfish, northern pike, walleye, and the occasional steelhead. Whether you’re a newcomer to the sport or seeking to upgrade your gear, Fish USA is a one-stop shop with experienced staff and an extensive selection of merchandise.

 

Know Before You Go:

Presque Isle State Park Winter Hours of Operation
Open daily from 5 a.m. to sunset. Day-use areas such as trails, beaches, restrooms, and the marina close at dusk. After dusk, driving is allowed up to 8 p.m. 

Dog-Friendly! Presque Isle is a great place to bring your leashed furry friend along with you for a hike. Remember to do your part to help keep the park clean and pick up after them. 

Presque Isle State Park Main Office, inside the Tom Ridge Environmental Center

November 1 – March 31: Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.
814-833-7424

Presque Isle State Park Restrooms

Most restrooms are closed during the off-season.  Restrooms at Rotary Pavilion, the ranger station/public safety building, and Perry Monument are open year-round. 

Presque Isle State Park Ranger Station/Public Safety Building

Offering first aid, telephones, restrooms, and maps of the park.
Hours vary depending on staffing.
814-833-7424

Presque Isle State Park Ice Fishing Regulations

 

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