Interested in discovering what else the Firelands area has to offer once you’ve visited Cedar Point and the Lake Erie Islands? You’re in luck, because the area has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Our 2011 Summer Guide breaks it down for you.
Like to paddle? If you own a kayak or canoe, we suggest you visit the East Sandusky Bay Water Trail (located at the end of River Road in Sandusky). This water trail is a 15-mile loop of the shores of East Sandusky Bay. Bring your sunscreen and plenty of water to navigate the whole loop. Need a map? Check out eriemetroparks.org.
If you’re looking to rent a canoe, head to the Coupling Reserve (11618 State Route 13, outside of Milan) on the Huron River. For just $10, you can rent a canoe for up to eight hours of fun.
If you need a little more than just a boat and a paddle, Old Woman Creek Reserve (2514 Cleveland Road in Huron) provides free, guided canoe trips through the estuary beginning at the end of June and continuing through the summer. What’s an estuary, you ask? It’s basically a drowned stream mouth where stream water and lake water mix.
On the tour, you’ll get an up-close and personal look at our unique coastal wetlands. Watch kingfishers hover and dive overhead searching for a meal as guides reveal the legend of Old Woman Creek.
A great way to explore the coast is by Jet Ski. Try Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals at South Bass Island State Park (or call them at 419-285-BOAT). If you’re hanging around on the mainland, Lyman Harbor in Sandusky also has Jet Skis for rental. You can find the Lyman Harbor Entertainment Complex (which also features a night club and a summer concert series) at 1615 First St., Sandusky.
There are plenty of places to fish in the Sandusky area (just don’t forget to visit ohiodnr.com to find out how to get a fishing license). You can also check out local fishing reports by calling 888-HOOK-FISH.
In downtown Sandusky alone, you’ll often find people fishing at Jackson Street Pier (233 E. Shoreline Dr.), Shoreline Park (411 E. Water St.) and at the end of Franklin St. Many of the parks in the area (at least those on the water) have places to fish, especially when you’re on the islands. When in doubt, bring your license and your lure!
If you think summer in the area is for the birds, well, you’re right. The Firelands area is located within two migratory bird flyways (the Mississippi flyway and the Eastern Atlantic flyway). Sheldon’s Marsh, one mile west of Huron on Cleveland Road (Rt. 6), is a birding hotspot for locals and tourists from all over the nation with over 300 different bird species known to visit. A one-mile paved walk lead you through the woods and open water marsh to a long natural beach along Lake Erie’s south shore. Ornithological specimens include wood ducks, great blue herons, red-tailed hawks and numerous songbirds.
It’s hard to imagine a summer on Lake Erie without the hottest hot spot of all — the beach. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of great beaches to enjoy. Cedar Point Beach is a favorite, and if you’re already at the park you can just get your hand stamped by Ocean Motion and head right out the gate.
Lakefront Park and Beach in Huron is also a great family beach, but our favorite beach in the area is East Harbor State Park Beach in Marblehead. They have a great snack bar, lots of parking and a picnicking area. We recommend getting there early to pick a spot, because it gets really busy.
DIVING AND PARASAILING
For more adventurous souls, the North Coast offers diving and parasailing. If you want to explore the depths of Lake Erie in a scuba suit, try one of two places. The first is Dale’s Diving Shop, located at 302 Meigs St., Sandusky. The other is at New Wave at 1425 W. Lakeshore Dr., Port Clinton. Both places can help equip you for your adventures. As a side note, Lake Erie has a bunch of shipwrecks in its watery depths — maybe even some lost treasures. Happy hunting!
If going below the water isn’t for you, try going above it. North Coast Parasail & Water Sports has two locations, one at Cedar Point Beach (419-627-2279) and another on Kelleys Island (440-315-3479). If you want to fly with the birds, give ‘em a call. They also have WaveRunner and kayak rentals.
If you’re a landlubber who would rather keep your feet on the ground, there are plenty of great hiking areas. Don’t miss Edison Woods Preserve located on Route 61 just north of Berlin Heights. This gem of Erie County is over 1,300 acres of old growth trees, marshy wetlands, vernal pools and sandstone cliffs.
Edison Woods Preserve is home to a wide range of beautiful wildflowers, rare plants, amphibians and reptiles. There are over five miles of trails that take you through the natural and cultural history of the area. Whether you’re out for a short hike or plan on spending the day, Edison Woods Preserve is a great place to relax in the sights and sounds of nature.
Here are some more great places to hit the trails hard — or go for a nice, leisurely walk.
11618 SR 13 (Mud Brook Road), Milan
Right on the Huron River, the reserve offers excellent camping and hiking. The park is open to the public year-round from 8 a.m. to dark.
8404 Sandusky Clyde Road (SR 101), Castalia
A variety of plants, wildlife and even fossils can be found in this former quarry. It’s open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to dusk, year-round.
3819 Cleveland Road, Sandusky
A nesting area for American Bald Eagles, the allure of Eagle Point is clearly the species of birds and wildlife.
3910 Perkins Ave., Huron
A mixture of a recreation-oriented park and trails, you’ll find good places to hike as well as playgrounds and sports fields. The park is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to dark.
5313 Huff Road, Berlin Township
A small park with two trails, it’s lush and green in the summer and richly colorful in the fall.
1 University Dr., Huron
The highlight of the arboretum trail is the spectacular and diverse plant life. The arboretum is open to the public free of charge from 7 a.m. to dusk. Trail is paved.
DUPONT MARSH & HURON RIVER GREENWAY
1805 River Road, Huron
As one of the best remaining river marshes in Ohio, it’s a great place to observe wildlife. It’s open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to dusk, year-round.
For information on all of the Erie Metroparks listed above, call 419-625-7783 ext. 221 or visit eriemetroparks.org.
BUCKEYE TRAIL: NORWALK
Farms and long straight stretches of road walking await you in the Norwalk section of the Buckeye Trail. Though not filled with steep climbs or breathtaking views, this section offers an easier walk for those who want to stroll, not hike. Information: 419-448-0007 or buckeyetrail.org.
Old State Road, Norwalk
The family friendly reservoir has plenty of shelters, a playground, cookout areas and fishing spots. It also has wooded trails for your littlest nature explorer. For those who want to stroll, there’s a paved path, too.
Lead art: Sandusky's Shoreline Park is a great place to go fishing or enjoy a relaxing day at the waterfront.