- 293 miles (471 km)
- Allow 8 hours to drive the Byway or 3-4 days to see the entire Byway.
Spanning millennia, the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail holds some residue of Earth's early history, then our country's early history, and today, makes its own history. The Byway links 300 museums and natural areas related to the glacial carving of our landscape, the War of 1812's Battle of Lake Erie, the Great Lakes' role in the Underground Railroad, and nature's influence over industry and way of life.
Would you like to see how a glacier can affect a landscape? Visit Kelleys Island, accessed by a 20-minute ferryboat ride aboard Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Lines out of Marblehead. Starting over 12,000 years ago, the Wisconsin Glacier scoured a huge 400-foot long, 35-foot wide and 10-foot deep gash in the earth's limestone surface, parts of which still stand barren today. Besides the natural sights (which include unique plants, insects, and fossils), visitors can sea kayak, sail, and scuba dive off the island or bike and hike on it.
Continuing on your journey, experience a patriot's dream a few miles northwest of the Bass Islands. Here the Battle of Lake Erie was fought in 1813 and proved to be the turning point of the War of 1812. Today at Put-in-Bay, visitors can appreciate the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, done in the style of Greek, doric column. This 352-foot granite shaft commemorates not only a naval battle but a peace which has lasted for more than 150 years. (The 3,987-mile boundary between the United States and Canada is the longest unguarded international frontier in the world.)
Later on in the country's history, the Hubbard House, right on the Byway in Ashtabula, was a stopover for refugee slaves fleeing to Canada. The house near Lake Erie served as a strategic destination for runaway slaves. There they stayed in the Hubbard's cellar or hayloft until it was safe to cross the lake. Today, visitors can tour the home to get a sense of what it must have felt like to be a runaway slave in the 1840s and 1850s.
Fast-forwarding to today, you can make history along the Lake Erie Coastal Trail with one of many activities available. For instance, search for exotic birds at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area/Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, consistently ranked a top 10 birding spot in North America. These areas have spring and fall waterfowl and songbird migrations that attract 150,000-plus visitors a year. Bordering Lake Erie for its entire length, the Byway also offers excellent fishing, boating, and swimming. At dusk, relax on a luxurious, sunset Lake Erie cruise, with fireworks to boot. From beginning to end the Lake Erie Coastal Trail offers diverse adventures for the naturalist, the history buff, and the recreationist; it's one road chock full of learning and fun.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
With unique architecture, distinctive public art, restored historical sites, beautiful parks, great restaurants, and world-class attractions, Cleveland is a diverse, modern city.
Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse (OH)
Viewed from Conneaut Township Park, the Conneaut Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse is the latest in lighthouses to monitor this port's trade. This is a "sister" lighthouse to the one in Huron.
Maumee River's rapids were one of the few obstructions on what was otherwise an unimpeded journey from New York to the Gulf of Mexico; Fort Meigs was built to command them. General William HenryHarrison built Fort Meigs in 1813 as a staging area for an invasion of Canada. British soldiers and Indian allies attacked in May for eight days. A second attack occurred in July, again with America victorious. Visitors encounter a museum, stockade, blockhouses, and costumed guides.
From Anthony Wayne Trail (Route 24) along Byway in Maumee, exit on Conant Street (Route 20) toward Perrysburg. This will become Front Street (Route 25) upon crossing the Maumee River. At West Broadway Street, turn right and then turn right on W. Indiana Avenue to the site.
Great Lakes Marine Museum and Coast Guard Memorial Museum (OH)
Lighthouse keepers took turns residing in this 1898 home, alternating shifts of sleeping at the lighthouse and staying warm and dry with family members on shore. One of six Byway museums dedicated to preserving maritime heritage of the Great Lakes, this site has the world's only scale model of a Hulett ore unloader, an invention that revolutionized efficiency of Great Lakes shipping. View a working harbor from the museum.
Learn about Great Lakes ecology and science at several areas on the Great Lakes Environmental Floor. Hands-on activities will give you a chance to explore Great Lakes environmental activity, geography and geology; the human and economic importance of the Great Lakes; nonpoint pollution; and environmental threats. The Great Lakes is presented as an ecosystem of national and global importance that affects other ecosystems and can serve as a model for identifying environmental threats and remedies.
Headlands Beach State Park (OH)
With a mile-long, sandy beach, this state park leaves little to be desired.
Hubbard House Underground Railroad Terminus (OH)
Ashtabula was a hotbed of the abolitionist movement, with 30-plus Underground Railroad safehouses. The Hubbard House -- Mother Hubbard's Cupboard -- aided slaves seeking shelter and a path to Canada. Antislavery attitudes in Ashtabula appeared as early as 1813 when an Andover man refused to purchase sugar harvested by slaves. An abolitionist newspaper prospered and a county-wide antislavery society organized. It is one of several UR sites and tours available along this byway.
Inland Seas Maritime Museum (OH)
This museum explores the history of sailing and shipping on the Great Lakes with hands-on exhibits and artifacts. Exhibits include "From the NIAGARA to the ONOKO: Wooden Shipbuilding Era on the Great Lakes", interactive diving experiences exploring Great Lakes shipwrecks, and original Fresnel lighthouse lenses. The two-story museum also anchors the Great Lakes Historical Society, an organization founded in 1944 to preserve and interpret Great Lakes maritime history.
James A. Garfield National Historic Site (OH)
The 20th U.S. President, Garfield acquired the home in 1876 to accommodate his large family. Named Lawnfield by reporters, the home was the site of the first front porch campaign in 1880. James A. Garfield was President March 4, 1881 until his death September 19, 1881. In 1885, Mrs. Garfield and her family opened the Memorial Library wing -- setting the precedent for presidential libraries. Other structures include a carriage house, campaign office, windmill, and granary.
Kelleys Island (OH)
Kelleys Island's limestone supports unique plants/insects and fossils. The glacial grooves are among the world's best examples, carved 12,000 years ago. The island has one of the few US alvar communities, bedrock scoured by waves/ice off Lake Erie. Its plants combine boreal, southern, and western plants-relics of post-glacials and the warm, dry period that followed the retreat of Pleistocene glaciers. The Nature Conservancy recognizes the islands for their natural features.
Kelleys Island is reached via a 20-minute ferryboat ride aboard Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Lines in Marblehead. Airline service is available from both Port Clinton and Sandusky. This island is the largest American island on Lake Erie.
Kelleys Island is reached via a 20-minute ferryboat ride aboard Kelleys Island Ferry Boat Lines, boarded in Marblehead at 510 West Main Street (across from the Police, Department and Fire Station).