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

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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