Erie, Pennsylvania is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and diverse array of state parks.
Whether you’re looking for stunning waterfalls and rugged hiking trails or luxurious camping grounds and scenic picnic areas, visiting Erie has something to offer for nature lovers of all types.
This post gives an overview of five of the best state parks near Erie that you won’t want to miss.
Map of State Parks Near Erie, PA
Here is a map of the state parks in Pennsylvania covered by this post:
List of State Parks Near Erie
These five state parks near Erie are located at various distances from the city. Some of them are close enough to the city to be be visited on a day trip, and four of them offer various camping and overnight accommodation options.
1. Presque Isle State Park
Location: 301 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505
Located just a short drive from the heart of Erie, 13 min (4.6 mi) to be exact, Presque Isle State Park is a sprawling natural peninsula with 13 sandy beaches, lagoons, a lighthouse, abundant hiking trails, activities, concert spaces, and breathtaking views. The park also has an environmental center, known as the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (a natural history museum).
With more than 3,200 acres of land to explore and enjoy, this park is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike.
The park’s gorgeous coastline seems to shimmer with life, from the vibrant green forest floor to the miles of smooth white sand beaches. There are also numerous small coves and inlets where you can enjoy peace and tranquility as you watch the sunrise or set over the water.
And, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking or kayaking.
Whether you plan on visiting for an hour or a week, the park is guaranteed to delight your senses and leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Presque Isle has an assortment of amenities including a boat launch, Food/Refreshment Concession (seasonal), picnic tables, swimming areas, beach showers, and more.
For experienced campers or those just getting started, the park offers a campsite perfect for your style — from tents with all the amenities to full RV hook-ups and pet-friendly camping spots.
Full hook-up campsites have everything you need for an unforgettable outdoor experience including electricity (30 or 50 amp), water connections, sewer, access to WiFi, and cable TV hookups. Each campsite site comes equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table.
As you can see, Presque Isle is one of the most popular state parks! Reservations are required in advance.
2. McConnells Mill State Park
Location: 1761 McConnells Mill Rd, Portersville, PA 16051
For those looking for a more rugged outdoor experience, McConnells Mill State Park offers unspoiled wilderness just southwest of Erie. Hikers will love exploring the many scenic trails that wind through caverns and ravines.
McConnells Mill is located in Perry and Slippery Rock Townships — 1 hr 25 min (90 mi) from Erie, Pennsylvania.
The park is 2,546 acres and is home to a variety of plant and animal life, as well as numerous historical and geological features. McConnells Mill is perhaps best known for its picturesque waterfall (Hell’s Hollow Falls), which is a popular destination for hikers and photographers.
The park also contains a number of hiking trails, picnic areas, and a group campground. In addition to its natural beauty, the park is also home to several important historical and archaeological sites.
These include the remains of an 18th-century grist mill, as well as many Native American burial mounds. McConnells Mill State Park is a beautiful and popular destination for both nature lovers and history buffs.
Love to hunt? There is hunting available at the park as well.
There are a variety of amenities including Kayaking, a Picnic Area, a Picnic Pavilion, Sledding, Picnic Tables, Grilling, a Restroom, Rock Climbing, a Playground, and parking is available.
3. Erie Bluffs State Park
Location: 11100 W Lake Rd, Lake City, PA 16423
Erie Bluffs State Park covers 587-acres with a 1-mile stretch of shoreline. The distance from here to Erie, PA is 26 min (17.6 mi). The picturesque park is the perfect spot for a day trip.
Visitors have access to picnicking, hiking, fishing, swimming, and scenic viewing opportunities. There is a boat launch ramp that provides access to the bay for boaters and fishermen. If you’re an avid outdoors enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful place to unwind, this state park is a must-visit for any nature lover.
Erie Bluffs is a great destination for those who love boating and fishing. With a 24-hour boat launch available in the Elk Creek Access, it is easy to get out onto the water and explore Lake Erie. If you are an experienced kayaker, canoeist, or motorboat enthusiast, this park offers the perfect setting for all kinds of small watercraft.
Horseback riding, ATV riding, disc golf, geocaching, rock climbing, swimming, scuba diving downhill, hunting, skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, cross-country skiing, and ice skating are available as well.
Picnic tables make it easy to enjoy your meal, while also providing you with some shade from those hot summer days!
Additionally, the park itself provides ample opportunities for recreational activities on land, making Erie Bluffs an ideal location for a weekend retreat or day trip.
Erie Bluffs is known for having bald eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons, and many other species of birds. The park also provides habitat for white-tailed deer, coyotes, beavers, and otters. The state park is open to the public year-round from sunrise to sunset.
4. Saw Mill Beach
Location: Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16507
Saw Mill Beach is conveniently located right in Erie, PA. With its stunning views of Lake Erie and easy access to sandy shores, it is a haven for locals and visitors alike. The beach is 21 min (10.0 mi) from Downtown Center City, Erie, PA and it is especially busy during the summer months, as tourists flock here to enjoy the warm sunshine, cool waves, and powdery sand.
But, even in the colder months, when much of Erie ices over, people can still come here to enjoy outdoor activities like ice fishing or snowshoeing.
Whether you are looking for an adventurous day out or just a place to relax with friends, Saw Mill Beach is the perfect spot in Erie. So if you find yourself in this beautiful part of Pennsylvania, make sure to check out this amazing beach! You won’t regret it.
5. Gull Point Trail
Location: Peninsula Drive, Erie, PA
Gull Point Trail is a popular hiking destination in Erie, PA. Located along the Erie coastline, this trail offers stunning views of Lake Erie and the surrounding mountains. The trail consists of well-maintained dirt paths that are perfect for bike riding or a relaxing hike through the woods.
Throughout the trail, you will also encounter numerous scenic overlooks and quiet streams that add to its natural beauty. Whether you’re looking for an invigorating workout or simply a peaceful escape from everyday living, Gull Point Trail is a great choice. So why not plan a trip there today? It’s sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget!
If you’re looking for a great day trip or a weekend getaway, consider one of these five state parks near Erie, PA. They offer something for everyone, from hiking and biking trails to lakes for fishing and swimming. So pack up the family, or take the trek alone, and enjoy some fresh air and beautiful scenery this summer at one of Pennsylvania’s finest state parks!