Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail


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Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Erie
Length: 13.4 miles
Trail end points: Presque Isle State Park entrance on Peninsula Dr. and Old Lake Road (Erie)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6032274

Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail Description

The 13.4-mile Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail loops around the picturesque Presque Isle State Park, a peninsula in Lake Erie. Considered Pennsylvania’s only seashore, the 3,200-acre park features 11 sandy beaches that are open daily in the summer. The park is open year-round, sunrise–sunset, and offers recreational opportunities from fishing, boating, and swimming to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, and ice fishing. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the park is known for its diverse ecology and bird population.

Along the trail, you will find easy access to parking, restrooms, picnic tables, and pavilions. Bikes, surreys, and in-line skates are available to rent in the park in season near the Waterworks area. The park also offers seasonal bike tours.

Starting at the park entrance on Peninsula Drive, you’ll follow the flat, paved path along its eastern side overlooking the Presque Isle Bay shoreline. This stretch of trail is separated from traffic and offers water views, observation decks, picnic facilities, and a marina as you head toward the Perry Monument in 5.1 miles. Built in 1926, the monument commemorates the victory of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

Continuing the loop toward the park’s 11 beaches, this section of trail features long stretches of on-road bike lanes that are not fully separated from traffic along Thompson and Peninsula Drives. Bicyclists should still find the experience comfortable, as the vehicular speed limit is low. After crossing a small bridge, you’ll pass Misery Bay, where you can rent a canoe or take a boat tour exploring the nature and ecology of the bay. Trail users can sign up in advance for these tours.

After the bay, you’ll approach the first beach. To access Beach 11 and a scenic lighthouse on the North Pier, leave the trail and turn right onto Coast Guard Road. Back on the trail for another 0.5 mile, you’ll pass an access road to your right that leads to the Gull Point parking area, just before access to Bundy Beach, on the northern side of the peninsula. From here, bird lovers can take a detour to the Gull Point Observation Deck via the Gull Point Hiking Trail. Check with the park before your visit, as this area has seasonal restrictions.

For the remainder of the route, which loops south, beach dunes obstruct full views of Lake Erie, making for a good excuse to explore the beaches, take a dip, or catch a sunset. In 1.5 miles from the Gull Point parking area, you’ll pass the Presque Isle Lighthouse, built in 1872, to your right, open on weekends for tours. For a fee, you can climb its 78 steps for an expansive view of the lake.

Leaving the lighthouse, you’ll pass five beach access points in quick succession before the trail bears right in 2 miles onto a separate unnamed road with no vehicular traffic. Be mindful of cross streets that intersect this road for car access to the beach parking lots. In 1.4 miles, the trail leads to the park’s interpretive center and once again follows vehicular traffic along Old Lake Road. The trail passes two more beach access points and travels through a short wooded area before completing the loop back to the park entrance. From here, the western endpoint of the 8.9-mile Bayfront Connector Trail is only 2.7 miles east.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach Presque Isle State Park from I-79 N, take Exit 182, and keep left to merge onto US 20 W. Go 1.3 miles, and turn right onto PA 832 N/Peninsula Dr. Follow PA 832 for 2.1 miles to the park entrance. There is a parking lot just inside the park entrance, and ample parking lots are available throughout the park. The trail parallels Peninsula Dr. and is easily accessible from all lots.

During the summer, a water taxi service travels to the park from Dobbins Landing in Erie. For the water taxi schedule and pricing, visit porterie.org/watertaxi. To reach Dobbins Landing, take I-79 N to its end (near mile marker 183), and continue straight onto Bayfront Pkwy. In 2.7 miles, turn left onto Holland St. Go 0.2 mile to the port.


Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail Reviews

Trail is paved and wide enough, so you will have no problems riding recumbant tricycles. It can get a little crowded with all the park visitors, especially with surrey rentals heading out to the monument.

Trail is paved and wide enough, so you will have no problems riding recumbant tricycles. It can get a little crowded with all the park visitors, especially with surrey rentals heading out to the monument.

Presque Isle State Park / Karl Boyes Multi-Purpose National Recreation Trail

On a cold, blustery, cloudy, gloomy early October weekday, I ventured out on the loop with low expectations for this bike ride. In an effort to beat the rain and just get in my Pennsylvania ride to check off state #36 in my quest to bicycle all fifty states, my negativity soon changed to joy as I thoroughly enjoyed my surprisingly fun trip around the peninsula.

Trail Link states it's a 13.4 mile loop, but I managed to do 18 which shows how often I was tempted to veer off the main path to enhance my experience, views, and photo ops.

There's so much to savor as the trail meanders through woods with the beginnings of fall color, goes by a multitude of ponds and bays, sandy beaches, and delivers you to several lighthouses. What was especially fun for this Southern Californian was the contrast between the relatively calm Presque Isle Bay side of the peninsula, and the sandy beaches with its wind driven waves crashing upon the shoreline. It truly sounded and looked like one of my beloved SoCal beaches.

If you're worried about the portions of trail where you have to ride on the road, don't be. The speed limit for autos is 25 MPH, and the bike lane is often just as wide as the auto lane.

For what it's worth, Trail Link's GPS helped me out quite a few times when I made a wrong turn, was unsure where to go, or was not quite sure where I was on the loop or peninsula. Thanks Trail Link!

I'll bet this park is a beehive of activity and swarming with people in the warmer months, but I thoroughly enjoyed the seclusion and beauty the time of year and threatening weather provided for me. It was almost as though I had the whole place to myself. I'm so glad I chose this location for my Pennsylvania bike ride. All in all, this retired teacher gives Presque Isle and Karl Boyes Trail an A+.

July 2023 Ride

Visited on a Monday. It's usually busy on weekdays. We try to ride this trail at least once a year. Trail is a paved loop and some on park roads. Numerous parking lots along the trail. Presque Isle State Park is free, as all Pennsylvania State Parks are. There are 2 lighthouses within the park. Many picnic areas, some with shelters. And modern restrooms in the park. At the entrance there is a burger place / ice cream place. Trail is flat. Not every shaded, most of its full sun. Park has fishing areas, kayak rentals and free beaches. Enjoy the day, or multiple days!

Great trail

Beautiful trail with lots to stop and see. Go explore. You won’t be disappointed! Only downside is it is rough in spots and could stand to be repaired or repaved


Biking the Erie area

This trail is a beautiful loop around the peninsula state park, well shaded and plenty of water holes and bath facilities. For those that want to bike the Erie Pa area and have camping or rv equipment, I highly recommend Lampe campground in downtown Erie on the bayfront. There is a bike trail that connects the campground to the Bayfront connector trail. This trail will take you along the bayfront and has a designated bike path to connect you to the Karl Boyes trail around the penninsula. 34 miles round trip (that's stopping at some nice watering holes along the way.)

Nice trail

Nice Trail. We added more miles by going out the the Coast Guard facility

Summer 2021 Ride

Enjoyed a day at Presque Isle State Park. This park, along with all of the other 120 State Parks in the Commonwealth of PA are free. Presque Isle is located on a peninsula with Lake Erie on one side and the bay on the other side.
Flat paved trail goes throughout the park which also offers several beaches, hiking trails and picnic areas...and fishing and boating as well.
Along this trail you will pass 2 lighthouses. Most of the trail follows the main park road which the speed limit is 25 mph and strictly enforced. Some of the trail goes through wooded areas which remind you of being in a forest.
Since the trail is about as flat as they come, no need for an e-Bike! Manual pedal power is all you need.
At the entrance of the park there is a diner which has burgers. hot dogs, fries and ice cream. Next door to it there is a pizza shop. Camping is nearby also.
Seasonal bike rentals in the park. Rent a bike, surrey or even try rollerblades.
If you'd like to experience the bike trail, it would be best to go on a weekday. It's not very wide and can be extremely crowded on weekends. Enjoy!


Beautiful trail around Presque Isle peninsula. Watch for tree root bumps.

Great Trail for an ebike ride!

My wife and I are traveling the country with some of the ebikes from our rental fleet in our Riverside Retro RV Bunkhouse Travel Trailer, specifically to ride our nation's bike trails. This was the second stop on our inaugural trip, and what a great stop it was! We stayed at Sara's Campground and were able to ride our Rad Power Bikes to the trailhead directly from the campground! Even though we were on ebikes - I was on the RadRover and my wife was on the RadMini - we kept our Pedal Assist to low levels and stayed in lower gears to get a nice burn going. This trail is beautiful, with many opportunities to stop along the way and take in the scenery, including the beaches along Lake Erie. I highly recommend adding this trail to your bucket list!

End of February 2021

The last week of February we had a warm up and some of the lake had started to thaw. Most of the foot of snow had been melted off. Always great to see different weather changes on the Peninsula.

February 2021 Ride

A few mile section of this trail has been snowplowed providing the opportunity to take in a Winter ride. Though the temp was a mere 20 degrees, the sun was out and there was barely any wind. The lake and bay had just frozen this early in February. It does not freeze every year. Also ice dunes had formed on the Lake (Lake Erie) side of the Peninsula. Ice dunes do not occur every year. The section of the trail which was plowed was at the State Park entrance and out a few miles. Still able to get in a decent ride and enjoy a beautiful Winter in the park via bicycle.

Bumpy from tree roots raising pavement

Tree roots have raised the trail in many places that jar you very hard when biking. Very beautiful trail though.

December 2018 Ride

Between Christmas and New Years, temps hit the 50's. Though it had rained earlier, still a nice ride.
The trail is completely open from last Summers construction. There is a new section of trail which runs from Beach 8 to Beach 7. This trail section follows the lake.
Newly constructed restrooms and concession stand at Beach 8 which had been closed.

Construction Alert-Summer, 2018

The Beach 8 construction project continues. Therefore a section of the trail remains closed. There is a well marked detour but you will be directed onto park roads. This could create a problem during peak park traffic times, so plan accordingly. Not sure when this project will be completed, but it's gonna be nice when it's done! Still a nice trail but you may have to cut your ride short. For updated park and trail information, visit Presque Isle State Parks website or contact the park office.

June 18 ride

First time at Presque Isle State Park. The trail is all asphalt and goes around Presque Isle. Great views of lake Erie and the city of Erie as you bike around the isle. You will see the light house and the Perry statue. We also saw many snapping turtles. The trail is 14 miles. After we did the trail once, we sat on our beach chairs at the beach to relax. We then got on our bikes and did 6 more miles. Parking is anywhere you want. Very enjoyable bike ride and easy to ride. Will do this ride again.

Nice Multi-Purpose Trail

This paved trail is segregated from the road in places, while other sections are on the berm. It has a nice mix of shade and sun as it circles Presque Isle peninsula, presenting good views of Erie Harbor, bay, and the beaches. There are places where the asphalt is a bit bumpy due to tree roots heaving it upward, but this really isn't much of an issue. There are plenty of places to park and start a ride since it's a circle route.

A nice added touch is that Sara's Restaurant is just outside the park and accessible by bike. It's a wonderful place to catch a burger or hot dog along with a shake, float, or ice cream either mid- or post ride during the warm weather months.

Mid September ride

Nice cool overcast day to ride. Thought we would give the trail a try. It's nice and if you do it twice you get a little over 25 miles. I did find that at times it was better to get off the trail and ride the rode, but still a very nice ride.

Nice Summer Ride

Enjoyed a weekday ride along the trail. Presque Isle Lighthouse was opened for tours and climbing, which we took advantage of the opportunity. Staffed by volunteers, the fee benefits the lighthouse preservation. There is no charge to enter the lighthouse grounds, only to go inside. Nice day for picnicking and biking. Rentals available for bikes, rollerblades and kayaks. The park is free to enter.

Easter Ride

Easter Sunday afternoon brought out a lot of people to
Presque Isle State Park and on the Karl Boyes trail.
Walkers, joggers, cyclists and even roller bladers!
Some enjoyed picnics as well. Our state parks are free to use. THere were fisherman / boaters out on the lake.
Trees bare though starting to bud. Didn't see much if any wildlife.
Trail is clearly marked. Numerous parking lots along the trail.
We stopped at the Coast Guard station, just off the trail to see the Erie Harbor lighthouse on the pier. It's the black and white Lighthouse. You can ride your bike out on the pier. We also passed the Presque Isle Lighthouse (The red brick one with white trim). Perry Monument is also a great place to stop and visit.
Some of the rest rooms were still closed, though there are ones open.
Trail is paved and very level!

Weekday Ride-November 2015

Had the opportunity to ride along the trail on a warm
Fall weekday in November. It was a little chilly in
some sections, for the most part, it was nice. We had
sunshine so that helped. Nice fall day we got to see things we didn't see over the summer when there were leaves on the trees. Most of the restrooms along the trail were open for our convenience. We got in 20 miles between the trail and park roads riding.

One of the best!

This is an awesome trail. Karl Boyles multi-purpose trail in Presque Isle State Park, Erie PA.

Our state parks are free. There is no parking charges or day passes needed.

The trail begins at the park entrance. Mile marker 0.0 and goes along the bay and loops around the peninsula of the park. There are many parking lots. It seems the lots near the beginning of the park are more crowded. Just keep going because you can hop on the trail anywhere.

Picnic tables and pavilions all through the park, which are free! Bike and inline skate rentals (seasonal) as well as Kayak rentals.

Several beaches, free admission!

Trail is fully paved and wide. Some sections of the trail are along the road, which isn't really a problem. The trail is 13 miles in length but if you go off the trail and take the road towards the Coast Guard, it will add a few miles. You can also re do some of the trail loop since it's a loop.

One lighthouse on the bay side sits on a pier. The other is on the lake side. That one is open sometimes. But you can always "see" them.

At the entrance of the park is Sara's diner. Ice cream treats and food. It's not sit down service so you can get in and out quickly. Open seasonal.

Campground at the entrance of the park. Waldermier Amusement Park and water world one mile away. I lot to see and do in this area. Hotels and restaurants nearby.

Just an all around awesome trail. We went biking on a Monday and it wasn't crowded. Did 15 miles. We have heard that on weekends it can get crowded.

Come early beach late

It is a great trail, lots of birds wildlife etc. But also heavily used between June and September. The trail is virtually impossible for bicycles to use in the summer after about 9 or 10 AM. Come early for a nice ride, to see wildlife and to avoid the crowd. After 10 AM be prepared to ride on the road. This also isn't a problem as there are two lanes through almost all of the park and even some areas dedicated to bike traffic.

One of the best!

"I may be biased because I'm a lifelong Erie PA resident but this has to be one of the finest places to skate/bike/hike in the Graet lakes region. The paved trail is 14 miles long and skirts Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie in many locations. This provides many views of the water, Erie's skyline and many beautiful sunsets. I have encountered deer leaping across the trail on numerous occasions. There are water fountains and restrooms all around the park for your convenience. The only negative is that the trail is not bikeable when the snow flies. If you are a cross country skier that isn't a problem. This summer a new trail along the bayfront connector highway connects the park to Penn State's Behrend Campus which gives you another 16 miles of paved trail with only a couple grade crossings. Erie is finally on the rail trail map!"

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