Gull Point Is Now An Island

There’s a birding hotspot at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania that attracts some of the rarest birds in the state.  It also attracts intrepid birders willing to make the one and a half mile hike from the parking lot … until now.

Gull Point is the eastern tip of a feather-shaped sand spit that arcs out to create Erie harbor.  The tip is closed from April 1 to November 30 to protect wildlife from human intrusion.  Now it’s even more protected.  On March 10 Gull Point became an island.

Jerry McWilliams reported it on PABIRDS:

Date: Fri Mar 10 2017 9:39 pm

Hello Birders and Gull Point hikers.

With the high winds the last 24 hours or so, it has finally happened. Lake Erie cut a channel through Gull Point Trail to Thompson Bay about half way out to Gull Point on Presque Isle S.P., PA. Gull Point is now an island. The breach is about 30 to 40 feet across, and for now it is only about six inches deep. The lake level is predicted to continue rising into June or July, so the channel is likely to deepen especially following storms. Even after crossing the channel you still can’t access Gull Point Trail since the trail is washed away for the next 100 or so feet before it begins again. Because the honeysuckle and bayberry is so thick it is impossible to try to walk through to reach Gull Point Trail, so you need to walk along the brushline. Hip boots will be required for now to make it to the trail.

The sand always moves at Presque Isle but this breach was hastened by our exceptionally warm winter.  Normally, ice on the lake prevents high waves during winter storms but there’s no ice this month so the waves crashed in.  Who knew!

The trail looked like this a year ago …

Mary and Sarah walk the Gulf Point Trail (photo by Kate St. John)
Mary and Sarah walk the Gulf Point Trail, April 2016 (photo by Kate St. John)

… but knee boots are not enough now!

Park management will assess the situation after the winter storms subside.

It’s humanly possible to reconnect Gull Point to the peninsula if you have enough money. But the sand will keep moving and it will breach again.  Nature wins the battle every time.


Read more here at

(map of Presque Isle State Park’s Gull Point embedded from Google Maps, plus a marked up screenshot of the same Google map)

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