Located on the shores of Lake Erie, 1,831-acre East Harbor State Park has unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation. Boating, fishing, swimming, picnicking and camping are popular while nature enthusiasts will enjoy the abundance of waterfowl, shorebirds and other species of wildlife found in the park's scenic wetlands.
Before European settlement, the East Harbor region was home to the Ottawa and Wyandot Indians. Ottawa in native tongue means "trader". An east-west trail skirted the southern shore of Lake Erie connecting the Pittsburgh and Detroit settlements, and also linked with the famed Scioto Trail from the south. This important area remained in Indian control until the British and Indians were defeated in the War of 1812 by the Americans.
After the Great Black Swamp was eventually drained, the land became highly productive. Fruits, particularly peaches and grapes, were grown extensively. The grape culture became very successful as a result of quality soil, natural drainage and suitable climate.
Marblehead Lighthouse was erected in 1821 east of the park on the Marblehead Peninsula to aid navigation in and out of Sandusky Bay. Johnsons Island on the bay side of the peninsula was the site of a prison for Confederate soldiers captured during the Civil War. A Confederate cemetery still remains on the island.
The region has long been valued as a recreation area. The unique plant and animal life, sandy beaches, marshland and the lake itself led to the development of East Harbor State Park. The park was opened in 1947 and today is one of northern Ohio's most popular vacation spots.
The campground at East Harbor is the largest in the Ohio State Park system.
340 electric sites
51 full hook-up sites
160 non-electric sites
Showers, flush toilets, dump station, launch ramp and camp store
WiFi access is available for a minimal fee at the camp store
Pet are permitted on all sites
Bike rental is available from the camp office and games and sporting equipment are available on loan to registered campers
A fish cleaning building is available for use by campers
Lake Erie offers unlimited horsepower boating opportunities. The park's marina provides seasonal and day-use dock rentals, fuel, launch ramp, full-time mechanic, boat supplies and restaurant. Boats and campers can be stored year-round at the marina in a fenced enclosure. There is one ramp at the marina (fee), two ramps in the campground (no fee), and a carry-in kayak ramp (no fee) providing access to East Harbor.
The park offers an 18-hole course plus a practice hole. The course is located near the Lockwood Shelter House. Bring your own equipment; rental equipment is not available. No fee is charged to play.
Lake Erie, the walleye capital of the world, provides anglers great catches of yellow perch, channel catfish, smallmouth and white bass in addition to walleye. Both East Harbor and West Harbor are excellent for bluegill, crappie and carp. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Hunting for waterfowl is permitted on the eastern side of the offshore islands. Seven duck blinds in the park are awarded through a lottery drawing held on the morning of the third Saturday in August. Contact the park office for details. A valid Ohio fishing and/or hunting license is required.
Several picnic areas with fantastic views of the lake and marshlands are equipped with tables and grills. One picnic area is conveniently located next to the beach.
The park features a 1,500-foot sand beach on Lake Erie. Vending machines are available. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach.
East Harbor’s trail system leads through the many different habitats within the park. There are multiple trails throughout the park totaling over 10 miles. All trails are multi-use, which allow hiking, biking, snowmobiles, etc. Eleven named trails can be found in the park:
Middle Harbor Trail - 3/4 Mile - Moderate
Middle Harbor Extension - 1/2 Mile - Easy
Meadow Trail - 3/4 Mile - Easy
Blackberry Trail - 1/2 Mile - Easy
Red Bird Trail - 1/4 Mile - Easy
Rock Garden Loop - 0.3 Miles - Easy
Wetlands Trail - 2 Miles - Easy
South Beach Trail - 2.5 Miles - Easy
Water's Edge Trail - 1 Mile - Moderate
Channel Dunes Loop - 1.2 Mile - Easy
West Harbor Trail - 3/4 Mile - Easy
Hundreds of migrating songbirds rest here before flying north across the lake making this a prime birding location during both spring and fall migration.
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy snowmobiling, ice skating, ice fishing, ice boating, and cross-country skiing.
Five snowmobile trails are found in the park:
Middle Harbor Trail - 3/4 Mile
Meadow Trail - 3/4 Mile
Wetlands Trail - 2 Miles
South Beach Trail - 2.5 Miles
Channel Dunes Loop - 1/2 Mile
Volleyball, basketball and horseshoe courts, along with playground equipment are located in the campground or day use area.
Nature center has seasonal hours.
Programs are offered by the park naturalist on weekends throughout the summer season.
Bicycle rental is available.