Did You Know Lake Erie Has Its Own Legendary Monster?
Lake Erie is the fourth largest and shallowest of North America's five Great Lakes.
Let’s start big with Pennsylvania’s largest lake, which is also the fourth largest (by surface area) of North America’s five Great Lakes. It’s also the shallowest and the first to freeze in the winter. The southernmost of the Great Lakes, which we share with Canada, once sat near the settlements of the Erie, Attawandaron, Iroquois and Anishinaabe tribes, who fished the shallow waters and built double-earth-wall dwellings.
Because of the lake’s relatively mild water temperatures and high plankton supply, freshwater fishing is big business (and big fun). Look for walleye, large and smallmouth bass, perch, lake trout, king salmon, whitefish and more on your line.
Not looking to fish? Skip the bait and go deep into Lake Erie for world-class shipwreck diving. It’s estimated that up to 5,000 ships have met their demise in Lake Erie’s cold waters, with about 270 of those confirmed and mapped. Chances for preservation are higher because of the water’s salt-free composition — but the low temperatures require the use of a wetsuit.
Lake Erie’s Presque Isle State Park is especially popular with Pittsburghers; it’s the most visited state park in Pennsylvania, drawing 4 million visitors a year. With 11 miles of sandy beaches, it’s the closest thing we have to a nearby seashore. Choose from swimming, boating, hiking, bicycling, Segway or a tour of the lighthouse. To make a weekend of it, visit Waldameer Park and Sara’s Restaurant. The popular Tall Ships Erie festival is scheduled for Aug. 25-28, 2022.
Drive: 2 hours.
Surface Area: 9,910 square miles.
Maximum Depth: 210 feet.
Average Depth: 62 feet.
Claim to Fame:
Great Lake designation.
Did You Know?
- Lake Erie has its own legendary monster. The first sighting of Bessie was recorded in 1793.
- Lake Erie’s lighthouse, built in 1872-73, is 68 feet tall and has 78 steps to the top.