Lake Erie Coast, Pennsylvania and New York


Pennsylvania’s state outline has a curious feature, a tiny stub in the northwest corner that keeps the Keystone State from being land-locked.  If you’re traveling along the Erie Coast, like I was, this tiny panhandle provides a brief encounter with William Penn’s namesake land.

I was in a hurry to pass through Pennsylvania, and the edge of New York, in order to get to Niagara Falls, where I planned to spend whatever time was left in Day 2.  So, I didn’t make any stops in Pennsylvania — though I really should have.  The truth is, as I crossed the state line, the landscape almost instantly became more interesting.  I was suddenly catching the edge of the Allegheny Mountains, which added some ups and downs that weren’t present in mostly-flat Ohio.  As I drove by Erie, the biggest city in these parts, Interstate 90 skirted a hillside, allowing me to look down towards the city and the lake.

It was all quite beautiful, but as I said, I didn’t devote much time to it.  Instead, I took the freeway almost all the way across Erie County, turning off just before the New York line, for the trip up to the town of Northeast and the coast. So, in lieu of photos, enjoy this Drivelapse video which will take you from East Ashtabula, Ohio, into and through Pennsylvania’s panhandle:

The rolling landscape that I had entered in Pennsylvania continued as I headed up New York’s Erie coastline. The only difference is now, I was on backroads, in order to avoid the tolls on the New York Thruway (I-90).

Following NY-5 from the state line eastbound, you won’t see a lot of the coast, but you will enjoy a plenty of grape farms.  There is a chance to see the water near Westfield (the town itself is south of NY-5, on the other side of the interstate).

There’s a small park, boat ramp, docks, and a couple of restaurants here, next to this old boat that’s now permanently on dry land.  You can also walk down to a small beach, on the other side of the boat, or pick some grapes from the vines that are growing here.

Beyond the boat ramp, NY-5 once again departs from the coastline.  The water isn’t far away, but there are almost always some trees or private property in the way.

Lake Erie State Park, southwest of Dunkirk, gives you the opportunity to picnic or camp along the lakefront.  There are also cabins for rent.  Park information can be found here.

Dunkirk Lighthouse

Not only will the town of Dunkirk provide the first city you’ve seen in a while, it also provides a nice attraction that’s worth a short detour from the main road.  The Dunkirk Lighthouse is on the waterfront, a few blocks out Point Drive (north of NY-5).  If you just want to take a picture of the lighthouse, access is free (or at least, I didn’t pay anything).  An investment of $7 (adult, children 4-10 are $3 each) allows you to climb to the top of the lighthouse, and see the keeper’s house and museums.  Current admission rates, hours, etc. can be found here.

A light was first established at Dunkirk in 1827. The current, 61-foot tower was built in 1875-76. The 3rd-order Fresnel lens (still in use today) dates back to 1857.

I decided to stick with NY-5 a bit further, on through Silver Creek, before I hopped onto Interstate 90 to try to make up some time.  It probably wasn’t the best idea, since I only traveled a few miles before getting off again (on NY-75), then ending up on NY-5 again for the drive into Buffalo, and on to I-190 and Niagara Falls.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from the Pennsylvania/New York state line to Dunkirk, via NY-5 and US-20.

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