For a wonderful weekend watching the wildlife, head to East Harbor State Park near Lakeside Marblehead, Ohio. With 1,831 acres of woods and water, you can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities when you visit the park. East Harbor was once home to the Ottawa and Wyandot Native American Tribes, where they fished and hunted the land until the War of 1812. When the Great Black Swamp was drained, fruits became the primary produce coming from the high-quality soil. The lighthouse was built in 1821 to aid in navigation in the bay, and today, it is a beautiful addition to the area.
During the summer, the park is popular with anglers, boaters, and sunbathers, with Lake Erie being the center of attention. Two miles of sandy beaches and dunes separates the harbor from the lake and makes a perfect backdrop for a beautiful sunset every evening. Winter is fun here as well, with snowmobilers enjoying the five snowmobile trails in the park. Cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice skating are also fun cold-weather activities here.
Whether you are a fan of the summer sports in the water, or you would rather stay on dry land, there is always something fun to do at East Harbor State Park. With 400 campsites to choose from, you can park your RV and head off to the woods or the water to enjoy the park your way.
East Harbor State Park is easily accessible by RV or car since it is located just six miles from Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio, off Highway 269. You can reach Highway 269 from Highway 53 if you are coming from the west or the north. If you are coming from the south, you can take Highway 163. The roads into the park are all paved and well cared for, and there are no curvy or narrow roads to worry about when driving your RV or pulling a trailer behind you.
Local roads will take you anywhere in the park you wish to go, from the park office and marina to the campground and trails. There are no driving restrictions in the park for RVs or trailers, so getting around is easy, whether you are in your rig or another vehicle.
Parking is located by the campgrounds, the pond, and the Harbor View Shelter House. You can also park your rig at your campsite if you are staying overnight.
The award-winning, family-friendly Sandusky/Bayshore KOA campground blends the best of the city and the bay area. The KOA campground is the closest campground to Cedar Point, and also offers access to Lake Erie, the Edison Museum, island cruises, the Merry-Go-Round Museum, and fishing charters. Campground amenities include cable and basic Wi-Fi, updated bathrooms, two heated swimming pools, a catch-and-release fishing pond, nature trails, bike rentals, recreational facilities, a gem mine, a café, and snack bar, and planned activities including family movie nights and ice cream socials.
Enjoy a game of horseshoes, jump on the giant jump pillow, grab some bean bags for the bag toss, or play some volleyball. You can also challenge your buddies to a paintball game, try your skills at an archery range, or take a ride on the pedal carts. No matter how big your rig, you can find a spot to fit because the park accommodates RVs and trailers up to 70 feet in length. Pets are welcome to join you at the campground, too.
East Harbor Campground is a year-round facility that has 551 pet-friendly campsites. Several campsites provide access to electricity and water, and some even have full hookups. The spaces, ranging from 20 to 50 feet in length, have varying scenery, with some waterfront views. If you have a large rig, it is best to reserve a spot far in advance so you can be sure to get the size you need. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance, and campers are permitted to stay up to 14 days within a 30 day period. On holidays, weekends, and peak camping times, there may be a minimum stay requirement. If you are staying with a large party, you can stay at one of the 10 group campsites. Quiet hours are from 10 PM until 7 AM.
For campers who like a unique camping experience, why not try renting a yurt for the night? East Harbor State Park has one yurt onsite that people can reserve from May through mid-October. The yurt sleeps five people and has beds, bunks, and a futon, so all of your friends staying with you will be comfortable. If comfort is what you crave, the yurt is the place to stay. There is 50-amp electrical service, and amenities such as a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, picnic table, fire ring, and a propane grill.
If you are aching to learn more about the park’s history, park your RV at the Visitor Center and come inside to look at some of the exhibits. There are displays you can stroll through at the Visitor Center that will highlight the Ottawa and Wyandot Tribes that lived where the park is today. Asking the park rangers questions you may have about the park is also an option. The rangers and staff are all knowledgeable and love to pass on their knowledge to you.
East Harbor State Park features a Nature Center just waiting to be explored during your RV road trip. You can find the Nature Center by the overflow parking lot in camping section D, off of Road 4. At this impressive facility, you will be able to enjoy hands-on experiences with the natural world. Learn more about the abundant amount of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other species that call the park home. The close-up encounters are sure to leave you wanting more. The Nature Center also has a camp store where you can pick up snacks, bait, or many other little camping comforts you may need.
East Harbor State Park is home to egrets, great blue herons, shorebirds, and black-crowned night herons, so you will definitely want to have those binoculars in your RV. These birds are easily spotted at Middle Harbor, which is a birding hotspot. Other hotspots for birding include the waterways all around the park. Don't forget to hike the Middle Harbor Extension, which is an extra half-mile off of the Middle Harbor Trail. The extension trail will take you along Middle Harbor so that you can try and spot the birds that make their home here.
If you are interested in doing some hunting while you are at East Harbor State Park, go ahead and bring your hunting gear because there are plenty of opportunities for you on the eastern side of the offshore islands. In fact, seven duck blinds are presented to seven lucky hunters each season through a lottery system. The lottery winners are chosen at the end of August for the following hunting season. You can call the park office for more details, but make sure you carry your hunting license with you at all times while hunting.
East Harbor State Park, with its location on Lake Erie, offers unlimited opportunities for boating, no matter what kind of boat you have. From paddleboards to pontoons and rowboats to houseboats, they are all welcome on this large lake. The marina offers fuel, bait, ice, and other supplies you may need to make your day on the water one to remember. So, make sure you attach the boat to the RV before heading to the park for your weekend on the water.
East Harbor State Park is an excellent place to bring your bike and head out onto a lake trail. Park your RV and cycle Middle Harbor Trail, a nearly one-mile path that is a fantastic bike trail that takes you along Middle Harbor and to the bird-watching platforms should you want to take a break and do some bird watching. Another excellent biking trail is the Wetlands Trail, where you can cruise along the East Harbor and take in the water views.
Ensure you pack a good pair of hiking boots in your RV since there are 11 hiking trails to pick from at East Harbor State Park that range from easy to moderate. Should you want an easy hike or stroll, pick the Rock Garden Loop Trail. This is a half-mile loop that takes you along Middle Harbor and highlights the beautiful area. If it is a more challenging hike that you crave, head out on the South Beach Trail, which is a 2.5-mile trail that will take you along East Harbor and over to Lake Erie, where you will be able to experience the different vegetation both areas have to offer.
East Harbor State Park offers up an 18-hole disc golf course plus a practice hole, all free of charge. Located around the pond near the Lockwood Picnic Shelter House, you can easily find the beginning of the course, which is right next to the shelter parking lot. Make sure you pack all of your disc golfing equipment in the RV because there is no rental equipment available at the park. Because the course is near the picnic shelter and tables, you can enjoy a picnic or BBQ before or after your game.