AN ERIE REST STOP (Erie Rest Beach, Port Stanley)

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I’ve toured Port Stanley and the surrounding countryside along Lake Erie many times over the years and had never heard of Erie Rest Beach, until Tessi and I joined the Port Stanley Naturalists Club for one of their weekly walks. The less frequented beach is situated past the main hubbub of the village’s centre and main beach. Port Stanley, itself, is a popular tourist destination and teems with sun worshippers and other visitors in the summer months.

It’s no wonder I never stumbled across Erie Rest Beach before; it’s a bit of zigzag on the hilly roads out of the west end of town to reach the parking lot. And, on my own previous expeditions, when strolling in that direction along the shoreline, I remember having to turn back when coming across private property signs.

The Beach’s Features

Tessi and I headed out from the parking lot with a couple of the club’s members—Eric, with his dog, Zoe, and Kristina, with her dog, Riley, after meet and greets all around. The dogs took off in a flurry to run, play and explore. The terrain starts out flat with far off houses and cottages—not a convenient place to unleash an untrained canine that may take off.

The elevation alongside the beach soon rises into an abrupt, soaring bluff swept with patches of assorted vegetation. The shoreline, littered with driftwood of all sizes at this point, is still wide enough for the dogs to scamper about.

We came across a stream pushing out from the bluff and skirting the shoreline for a ways, which allowed us only a narrow band to walk on. We ended up having to hop over the stream, where it turns to drain into the lake. I imagine the strip of water is normally quite narrow and had swollen from the fair amount of rain we had recently endured.

Gradually, the bluff tapers down to the shoreline and offers only a foot wide path between it and the lake. We were forced to walk single file, with our four-legged buddies splashing through the water beside us and dashing up on the slope, in spots where the gradient had lessened somewhat.

It was time to turn back when the slope—too steep for us to traverse—met the water leaving no walking room. Still, we were able to enjoy over an hour’s hike by the time we returned to the parking lot. How far you can go will ultimately depend on the time of year and the amount of rain previously fallen.

The Canine Particulars

Be aware, the sign at the parking lot states “no pets” in its list of restrictions. I learned, however, many locals let their dogs run there. It seems to be accepted by the community. You’d have to use proper judgment with your pet, especially in the summer, as it likely gets a bit more popular with people hoping to avoid the seething, crowded beach in the village.

The early spring day we visited was quiet. We passed one other person, who had leashed her fearful German shepherd long before reaching us. On seeing their approach, we leashed our pets, as well, till we left them behind. Later, a mystery dog appeared with no owner in sight. We never did figure out where he came from, since by then we were between the towering bluff and vast lake. He joined us for the rest of walk and was generally okay, though he occasionally agitated Riley. Other than those two encounters, we enjoyed the beach to ourselves.

I’ll continue with future explorations of the Port Stanley area, as it has always been a favourite destination of mine. Now those travels will include stops at Erie Rest Beach, too.

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 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2014

Check out my TC Dog Travels page to see more pictures.

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