Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center

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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: On the east end of Lake Erie; off of Rt 5; west of the village of Hamburg; Town of Hamburg; Erie County; New York.

Maps: Google mapBing Maps (Bird’s-eye)Multi-map (topo)Interactive map

GPS: Building entrance: N 42.74777 / W 78.90098

Directions: From Buffalo (north): Take the Buffalo Skyway and Rt 5 south through Lackawana and along Lake Erie for 11 miles. Look for the Visitor Center building on the right.

From Erie/Dunkirk (south): You can follow Rt 5 (Lakeshore Rd.) east to the Town of Hamburg. It will be on your left, shortly after passing the Wanakah Country Club.

Use Google Directions.

Parking: The Visitor Center has a thin strip of 10 or so spaces directly in front of the building.

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Latest Hamburg, New York, weather conditions and forecastSeasons/Hours: Open year-round. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Admission: Free.

Best time to visit: Spring through fall.

Time: Spend upwards of 30 minutes at the gift shop and seeing the few exhibits and talking to the guide in the center. Another 30 minutes or so walking the beach.

Handicap accessibility: Yes to the building. No to the beach.

Pets: Not allowed.

Swimming: No lifeguard.

Boat launch: None. Use the boat launch at Sturgeon Point Marina or at the NFTA Boat Harbor Park.

Accommodations: Restroom; beach (no swimming); gift shop; information; education center; hatchery; kids’ room; meeting rooms.

Contact Information

Description

The Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center stands right on the southeast shore of Lake Erie just west of the Village of Hamburg. Housed in the former Wanoka Water Works building, it welcomes visitors with a beautiful natural beach, information on attractions and accommodations in the area, an indoor kids’ play area, an education center and exhibits, a “sunset room” (which is available for rent), and a gift shop with books and local art.

Run by local volunteers, the Center seeks to promote the Lake Erie end of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, not only helping visitors get to where they need to be, and discover the area, but helping local business get noticed. Beyond that, it educates visitors, and the community, on the natural and settlement history of the Lake Erie shore. Open weekends, from 9am to 3pm, friendly staff is available for a quick question or to go over a map with you. The Center also holds events, from lectures to classes, with some centering around its trout nursery, where local students can observe the hatching and development of this important lake fish. One beautiful exhibit we enjoyed was the wall of life-size models of the largest lake fish.

The red brick turn-of-the-century building sits along the shoreline, and cement stairs lead down to the east beach. It’s not a sandy paradise, but it is beautiful. When we visited in August, several families were beach-combing and soaking up the sun and fresh air. Follow a cement platform that runs along the back of the building, past some neat art painted on the back wall, and you are on the west beach, a little more secluded. One family was swimming here but there are no lifeguards, so we recommend against it.

Lake Erie Seaway Trail

Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: A few hundred feet along the beach.

Markings: None.

Description: From the parking area, there is a small lawn to the east. It has a Seaway Trail sign and map. On the east corner of the building is a historic sign and a set of cement steps that lead down to the beach on the east side. Cross over to the west beach by using the cement platform behind the building.

Map: Check out our interactive map.

Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center Interactive Map

Drag the map or click the arrows to move around and use the +/- to zoom in or out. Click on the icons for more information. This map is not accurate. Caution and common sense should be used when hiking.

History

Historic sign on display outside the visitor center

Historic sign on display outside the visitor center

The Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center is housed in the former Wanakah Water Works, which operated from the early 1900s to 1990, servicing the local area with water from Lake Erie. After consolidation of water distribution plants to another location, the Town of Hamburg acquired the property.

Through the volunteer efforts of the Friends of the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center, the building was reconditioned and began operating as a not-for-profit visitor’s center for the Lake Erie portion of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in 2005.

Interesting Stuff

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.

Pipes

The intake pipes that extend out from the former plant and under Lake Erie are still visible from above when the water is clear.

Photography Tips

Sunsets

  • Sunsets happen well to the west. The best vantage point is from the beach on the east side of the building.

More tips

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