Overview

For centuries, Lake Erie was the lifeblood of the cities and communities bordering its shores, its deep water ports welcoming ships, there to transport goods manufactured by surrounding industries to world markets. Today the waters of the lake continue to lap the shoreline but the ships are less frequent. In their place there’s a new industry - tourists looking for a place to kick back and relax, there to enjoy the tranquility these shores offer. Our Circle Lake Erie tour will take you through four states and one province, through wind farms and agricultural land, vineyards and beaches. Historic covered bridges and lighthouses will beckon, calling out to the photographer within you. Get back to nature by hiking or biking in the National Park or try canoeing, kayaking or scuba diving. Birdwatching? Lake Erie is the place to be in Spring and Fall as more than 300 migratory species stop en route to their final destinations Then, if you feel like a break from all this tranquility, you can seek out one of the largest amusement parks in America! There’s so many reasons to Circle Lake Erie in an RV!
Duration
13 DAYS
Distance
1550km / 963mi
Region
Ontario

Route - 1550 km / 963 mi

Day Location Distance Duration
01 Toronto to Niagara Falls 112 km / 70 mi Approx. 1 hour and 20 minutes
02 Niagara Falls
03 --
04 Niagara Falls to Long Point Provincial Park 154 km / 96 mi Approx. 2 hours 10 minutes
05 Long Point Provincial Park to Point Pelee National Park 252 km / 157 mi Approx. 3 hours
06 Point Pelee to Maumee Bay State Park (via Windsor-Detroit bridge) 210 km / 130 mi Approx. 2 hours 45 minutes
07 Maumee Bay State Park to Kelleys Island State Park 78 km / 48 mi Approx. 1 hour 38 minutes
08 Kelleys Island State Park
09 Kelleys Island to Cuyahoga Valley National Park 136 km / 85 mi Approx. 2 hours 15 minutes
10 Cuyahoga National Park to Cleveland 33 km / 21 mi Approx. 30 minutes
11 Cleveland to Lake Erie State Park 230 km / 143 mi Approx. 2 hours 15 minutes
12 Lake Erie State Park to Niagara Falls (US Side) 144 km / 89 mi Approx. 1 hour 25 minutes
13 Fourmile Creek to Toronto 130 km / 81 mi Approx. 2 hours

Trip Details

Today's journey is just the beginning of your great adventure circling Lake Erie. 

Head south-west on the QEW (Hwy 403) towards Hamilton. Niagara Falls is between one and two hours away, depending on traffic. If you'd prefer to travel only a short distance today, there are campgrounds en route to Niagara Falls, including a provincial park campground near Oakville, only 30km south of our Toronto location.

The QEW leaves Hwy 403 at Burlington and makes its way around Lake Ontario and past St. Catharines to Niagara Falls. Most of the campgrounds in the area are along Lundy's Lane. Plan to spend 2 full days here to enable you to experience all this town has to offer.

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What you decide to do during your stay in Niagara Falls will most likely depend on your personal interests. Begin with a visit to the stunning falls and if you desire to see them from a greater height, consider a helicopter sightseeing tour with either Niagara Helicopters or National Helicopters. National Helicopters also offer a range of romantic tours for couples, including winery visits.
 
When night falls, Niagara comes alive in a different way. Lighting illuminates both the Canadian and American Falls, and on selected days from mid May until mid October, you can view fireworks over the Falls.  
 
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A full day of heritage and nature awaits as you cruise down the Niagara Parkway, hugging the shore and skirting the Niagara River until you arrive at Old Fort Erie and your first glimpse of Lake Erie itself.
A word of caution – if you are planning to follow the Niagara Parkway and Lakeshore Road to Fort Erie, you will need to divert around the rail bridge as it’s too low for RVs to pass under (3.3M clearance) then rejoin Niagara Boulevard past the bridge.

After leaving Fort Erie, continue west through a number of quaint beach suburbs to Port Colborne. If it’s a sunny day, take a trip down to Nickel Beach, one of Port Colborne’s hidden treasures and perhaps take time out for a picnic, a swim or a stroll along the beach before continuing around the north shore to Rock Point Provincial Park.

If you’re a golfer, take a break at Turkey Point provincial park – the only provincial park with a golf course.
Our choice for your overnight stay tonight however is at Long Point Provincial Park.
The fastest way to reach Point Pelee National Park is to head inland and join the 401. This route will, however take you away from many of the quaint towns and villages which are the essence of the North shore of Lake Erie. While the Coastal Trail doesn’t exactly follow the coast for much of it’s length, following it is a relaxing drive.

Follow Talbot Trail to Kent Bridge Road then turn off to Rondeau Provincial Park for a visit. After, continue along Talbot Trail towards Leamington and follow the signs to Point Pelee National Park. Point Pelee is the southernmost point of mainland Canada, located on a glacial spit that bites into Lake Erie.

It is possible to visit Pelee Island – a ferry service operates regularly from Leamington – check Ontario Ferries for details. Overnight at Point Pelee National Park Campground.

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Today you begin your exploration of the US sections of Lake Erie. If you're not in a hurry to get there, continue following the Coastal Trail to Amherstburg before skirting the Detroit River into Windsor.
Amherstburg is a pretty city, sporting pristine English and contemporary gardens, family fun parks and great hospitality.

If you're in a hurry to reach Maumee Bay, join Highway 3, which will take you right to the Ambassador Bridge - the crossing point from Windsor into Michigan. The Ambassador Bridge will bring you into Michigan south of downtown Detroit. After passing through US border control, keep left and take the Fisher Freeway (Hwy 75) south. Look out for signs to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfields Village if you wish to stop and visit.

After, head south on I75 bound for Maumee Bay State Park Campground. This State park is a great place to relax. A nature centre there is equipped with interactive displays, a research laboratory and viewing windows.

Overnight at Maumee Bay State Park.
Take Hwy 2 south-east following the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail signs branching off onto Hwy 163 (W Lakeshore Dr / W Harbor Road to Port Clinton. Highway 163 will take you to Marblehead Lighthouse State Park on 9 acres of land at the east end of the peninsula at the entrance to Sandusky Bay.

The lighthouse, built in 1821 is popular with photographers and is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the US side of the Great Lakes. Lighthouse Tours are offered during summer months. Picnic tables around the shoreline provide a pleasant place to enjoy the surrounding scenery.

From the Marblehead Lighthouse, return to Marblehead and look for signs to the ferry to Kelleys Island. During the summer months, ferries depart at least every hour.  RVs can be carried on the ferry.  We suggest you pre-book your campsite at Kelleys Island State Park. Once on the Island, consider touring the world famous Glacial Grooves.  If you’re energetic, rent a kayak and paddle around the island. Hike the North Pond Trail or bike the East Quarry Trail

There’s so much to do on the island that you might like to plan a two-night stay here.

Overnight at Kelleys Island State Park Campground.
Spend another day exploring the island today.

Kelleys Island, known as Lake Erie’s Emerald Isle, is a fascinating destination for nature enthusiasts, and a relaxing retreat for vacationers. The island is renowned for its unique geological, ecological, and archaeological features, and popular for its recreational offerings and picturesque landscapes. The 677-acre state park is located on the northern shores of the island. Here you can find sandy beaches, caressed by the gentle waves of Lake Erie, enticing you in for a swim.

For the more adventurous, enjoy summer diving among the many shipwrecks in the area or go sea kayaking and experience Lake Erie's ever changing moods.
Take the ferry back to Marblehead then continue east on 163 to E Bayshore Road and on to Sandusky.
Downtown Sandusky has some beautiful historic buildings and an historic waterfront to wander around. If you decide to spend the day at Cedar Point, you should allow approximately two hours to reach Streetsboro from Sandusky or add an extra day to your itinerary and continue exploring the south Erie lakeshore before heading further east.

If you decide to skip Cedar Point, continue along the Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail to Huron and Vermilion and explore these areas.

Tonight’s destination is slightly inland from the Lake but worth the detour. Look out for interesting villages as you make your way south-east on back country roads towards Cuyahoga National Park. Stop in Olmsted Falls and take time to wander through David Fortier River Park and view the covered pedestrian bridge spanning the Rocky River.

The area around Cuyahoga Valley National Park is dotted with vineyards and you might like to call into one or two to sample some of the excellent wines produced here.

There is no camping for RVs in the park but there are a number of good RV parks in close proximity.
 
Welcome to Cleveland. Take in a football game or a behind the scense stadium tour or watch a baseball game. Or, visit the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. The West Side Market is a favourite place for shopping fresh produce and the Great Lakes Science Center is a must visit if you have kids.
Feel free to spend more time today in Cleveland before continuing along the Great Lakes Circle Trail to your overnight stop at Lake Erie State Park. Your journey today will take you from Ohio, across the northern tip of Pennsylvania and into New York State.

Along the way, there’s ample time to explore. There are more pretty towns you may like to visit along the route including Geneva on the Lake, a resort community developed over 130 years ago.

Once you cross over into Pennsylvania, continue along Highway 5 to Erie Bluffs State Park. This is the largest undeveloped stretch of Lake Erie shoreline remaining in Pennsylvania. The park has one mile of shoreline, 90 foot bluffs overlooking Lake Erie, fishing, picnicking, hiking, canoeing and kayaking.
15 km further east, take time out to visit Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania’s only seashore.
The coastal route continues on for another 20 miles to the New York border.  Vineyards and wineries are abundant.  From here it’s only a short hop to Lake Erie State Park, your overnight destination.
Niagara Falls on the American side, is less than 2 hours away as you continue along the coast trail towards the city of Buffalo. The coastal route will eventually bring you onto highway I90, across Grand Island and into Niagara Falls. The prime viewing area for the American Falls and Rapids is Prospect Point, which is also home to the Visitor Center, Niagara Adventure Theatre and the Observation Tower. 

After experiencing the Falls from the American side we recommend you head north on the Robert Moses Parkway then join 18F at Lewiston to follow the Niagara Gorge to Youngstown and Fort Niagara State Park.
Camping is available at nearby Fourmile Creek State Park.  Advance reservations are recommended during July and August.
Today marks the end of your Lake Erie Circle Tour.  Allow between 1-2 hours for the drive back to Toronto on the QEW Highway.

Plan to spend a couple of days in the Toronto area after dropping off your RV.  We'd be happy to drop you at Lester B Pearson Airport so you can catch the airport shuttle downtown or arrange a taxi for you.  Toronto is a vibrant city with lots to do and see. Take a helicopter tour over the city, visit the observation deck at the CN Tower, take a one hour cruise on Lake Ontario, step back in history at Casa Loma - the possibilities are endless.

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Other Itineraries in Ontario