Lake Erie Photo Prints for Sale
GPS: Entrance off of Lake Shore Rd: N 42.65954 / W 79.05646
Directions: From Buffalo (north): Take the Buffalo Skyway (Rt 5) south through Lackawana and along Lake Erie for 20 miles. In Evans Center, turn right onto Bennett Road and follow that to the park.
From Erie/Dunkirk (south): You can follow Rt 5 (Lakeshore Rd) north past Angola and into Evans Center and take a left onto Bennett Road. Follow that to the park.
Use Google Directions.
Parking: Right at the entrance to the park is a large gravel lot that can accommodate over 100 cars.
Seasons/Hours: Open year-round from 7am to dusk (Winter) or 9pm (Summer).
Best time to visit: Summer.
Time: One can stop and see the lake within a few minutes. A picnic, swimming, and a walk circling the park could be an hour or more.
Handicap accessibility: No. We did not find this park to have adequate access for people with disabilities (in 2013). This is primarily because of the natural state of trails and sand, which is difficult to traverse.
Pets: Erie County park rules state: Dogs must be licensed and kept on leash at ALL TIMES. YOU MUST CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG. Dogs are not allowed on county beaches.
Swimming: A beautiful sandy beach offers guarded swimming from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend when water conditions allow. Call (716) 947-5660 for specifics.
Boat launch: Hand launch of kayaks and canoes is possible, but you would have to carry the craft quite a distance to the lake. There is no large trailer launch at this park. Use the boat launch to the north at Sturgeon Point Marina.
Accommodations: Swimming beach; restrooms; playground; picnic area; bird watching.
Erie County Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Phone: (716) 858-8355
Bennett Beach has been a popular destination for beach-goers from the Buffalo region for over a century. Originally a private camp, it was then operated by the City of Buffalo as a municipal bathing beach and then recently acquired by the county as a family park and beach. Our initial impressions upon arrival were disappointing. No grand entrance to greet us; a gravel lot; small picnic area and playground, all backed up against a wooded area. But it was beyond the wooded area that really impressed us. A single footbridge carries people over Big Sister Creek, a small creek that runs the length of the town and empties into Lake Erie at the park. The woods are small but unique: the trees here grow upon a massive sandbar, with some mounds reaching 40 ft high. Past the dunes, the golden sand was clean and packed with blankets and coolers, and the water was filled with bathers. Between the sounds of waves, the sound of families enjoying the perfect summer day could be heard. And despite some water quality concerns near the mouth of the creek, south of it, the water was clear and welcoming. Although not the most popular beach on Lake Erie, it was clearly the most enjoyed.
The park has three distinct areas to it. The beach and large sand dunes are a great way to spend a day in the sun, while the picnic area is great for a break with the family. The undeveloped woodland across the road is a neat little area to explore, although some of the current layout may change in the upcoming years. Recognizing the potential of the park, Erie County has proposed plans to develop it even further, perhaps adding pavilions, nature trails and better facilities. Work has already begun on preserving the rare sand dunes and the small wetland around the mouth of the creek. Even in its current state, the park easily has the most beautiful sandy beach we have seen along the lake, and it is well worth passing the other beaches along 5&20 from Buffalo to visit.
Difficulty: Moderate (because the sand dunes are tough to walk up).
Distance: A walk around the park is no more than a half-mile.
Description: From the parking area head west along the path to the bridge over Big Sister Creek. After the bridge you will enter a sandy wooded area. The path splits in two ways. Head down the left (south) path to the beach and Lake Erie. Head north (right) along the beach to the mouth of Big Sister Creek. Turn around and explore the sand dunes, but be careful because the sand is very unstable. Loop around back to the bridge and then back to the parking area.
Map: Check out our interactive map.
View Bennett Beach in a larger map
Bennett Beach is named after Deacon Joseph Bennett (1803-1899), who moved to the Town of Evans in 1820. As a young man, Bennett worked as a laborer for two years, helping to build the canal at Lockport. He took what he learned on the job south to Pennsylvania, where he worked for their canal efforts as supervisor, specializing in blasting. There he met his wife, Mary Roat, of New Jersey, and moved with her back to Evans, where they raised 5 children. He worked as a farmer and construction contractor, and later founded the First Baptist Church of Evans, becoming deacon. He also held six terms as Erie County Supervisor. Throughout a great deal of his life, Bennett kept detailed journals of his family, his work, and life around him. It is a wonderful snapshot of middle class life in Western New York and is one of the best documentations we have of this region during the canal boom era.
Angola saw its lakeside prosperity begin when the passing Buffalo and State Line Railroad brought its first tourism traffic to the region starting in the spring of 1852. By 1880 there were more tourists than resorts to hold them, and in 1883 Joseph Bennett’s son Judson turned 50 acres his father had given him into a summer resort to cater to the flood of visitors. He constructed a bridge over the creek and set up a camping area he called “The Bluffs,” and later “Pine Lodge.” Joseph Bennett himself got into the resort business in 1885, when visitors offered to pay to set up camp on his property. In the last years of his life, he ran his home as a summer resort. After his death in 1899, his family continued on with the business, catering to tent campers, as well as constructing permanent camp facilities to expand the business. Several other camps sprung up along the lake, including Cradle Beach Camp (Fresh Air Mission), St. Vincent de Paul Camp, and Camp Lakeland, among others. In 1908 the Lake Erie Traction Company opened a trolley line from Buffalo to Angola, allowing visitors to easily visit the camps and beaches for short excursions, and the resort business thrived up until the Great Depression. The tourism industry here never fully recovered, and in the 1930s the Bennett property was eventually purchased by the City of Buffalo and the camp structures demolished. It was then run as the Buffalo Municipal Bathing Beach. Erie County recently purchased it and renamed it Bennett Beach. The Bennett Homestead was removed in recent years.
In 2013, restoration work began to rebuild the park infrastructure, preserve the rare sand dunes, and improve the wetland at the mouth of the creek.
Read more about Joseph Bennett in the book, Joseph Bennett of Evans and the Growing of New York’s Niagara Frontier.
New York State Route 5
Beginning at the Pennsylvania state line in the Town of Ripley, State Route 5 spans 370 miles west to east across New York, passing through Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, and Schenectady, ending up in Albany. Along the way it overlaps with State Route 20, leading to the common name of both routes as simply “5 & 20.” Several small towns and cities, as well as countless curiosities, eateries, and historic sites can be experienced along its path.
The Angola shoreline of Lake Erie used to be covered in a multitude of large sand dunes, a result of the straight westward-facing shoreline that stretches almost 2 miles from Evans Beach to Camp Lakeland. As Lake Erie flows east, it carries sand with it, depositing large quantities of it against this straight shoreline. Then harsh winds from the west propel sand up the dunes, increasing their size. Unfortunately, development has destroyed most of the dunes along this shore, leaving the ones at Bennett Park as the last. The dunes here, some reaching as high as 40 ft, are as old as 4,000 years. They serve as a habitat for shoreline plants, birds and insects, and help to protect the wetland along Big Sister Creek.
It used to be located at the end of Bennett Road, on the creek, now near where the foot bridge is located. The home was demolished several years ago, but you can see some remnants of the foundation along the creek from the other side.
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