HEADLANDS BEACH STATE PARK
The trademark of Headlands Beach State Park is its mile-long
natural sand beach, the largest in the state. In addition to its
popularity during the summer season with picnickers and
swimmers, the area is home to many plant species typically
found only along the Atlantic Coast.
The northern shoreline of Ohio displays the dynamic effects
Lake Erie has on our changing landscape. The lake has been
a dominant force, shaping Ohio's natural and cultural
development for thousands of years. Erie, meaning wildcat ("it
is long-tailed") is derived from the tribal name of the Indian
culture who inhabited this area until 1655.
Lake Erie was originally much larger than it is today. As an eastern outlet opened via the Niagara River, the lake
drained down to its present size. Sand beaches from the former lake are still found along the northern shore. The
swamp lands adjacent to the beaches were once part of the lake itself.
Plants more common to the Atlantic coastal plain region can be found growing in the surrounding sand dunes. Sea
rocket, beach pea, seaside spurge, beach grass and purple sand grass persist on the dunes.
Lake Erie was a principal avenue of transportation for Indians and frontiersmen alike. The Lake Trail, a heavily used
Indian path, ran along the south shore of the lake. Originally, the trail was used by the Iroquois. Later other Indians
and settlers found it provided access to the Ohio country.
Northeastern Ohio was given to Connecticut in an agreement by which that state gave up claim to all other land
running west to the Pacific Ocean. Connecticut named the 3.8 million acres the "Western Reserve." Proceeds from
the sale of this land were to benefit Connecticut schools. The Connecticut Land Company purchased the land for
roughly 35 cents an acre and began selling tracts of land. Easterners moved west, and by 1800 the population of the
Reserve was approximately 1,300.
Nearby Fairport attracted Finns and Hungarians, later Slovenians and Slovaks, who came to fish and unload coal
and ore from boats onto railroad cars by hand. The lake influenced development, and the harbor was a gateway for
settlers and trade. Fairport Harbor is one of the best located on the lake with access possible when other harbors are
Lake County, Ohio's smallest county, covers 231 square miles. With the lake's effect on the weather, the county
developed a substantial nursery and fruit growing industry utilizing the prolonged growing season. The county claims
one of the highest points in the Western Reserve. Known as Little Mountain, it is located about seven miles south of
Painesville and offers excellent views of the surrounding area and Lake Erie.
In 1951-52, the state of Ohio began acquiring land west of Fairport to create a state park. Originally opened in 1953
as Painesville Beach State Park, the name was changed to Headlands Beach two years later. Its large beach has
attracted huge crowds consistently since the opening. In 1957, the beach was closed when Lake Erie's waves and the
undertow created safety problems. For a while, the public enjoyed swimming in the creek until the area was filled in.
Capital improvement projects started in 1967 created numerous parking lots, concession buildings, restrooms,
change booths and a treatment plant. Headlands Beach State Park remains very popular with swimmers and
Ohio does not have an annual pass and does not charge entrance fees to state parks.
Water, acresGreat Lake
Hiking Trail, miles2
Picnic Shelters, #1
Swimming Beach, feet5,280
BoatingBoating LimitsUnlimited HP
Search for a vacation rental
As the largest natural sand beach in Ohio, Headlands offers recreation for swimmers and sunbathers. Change booths,
concession areas and restrooms are provided.
A federal breakwall is located at the east end of the park offering fishing opportunities for smallmouth, largemouth
and rock bass; yellow perch; bluegill; walleye; coho salmon and carp. In addition, crappie, steelhead trout, sucker,
catfish and bullhead are common catches.
Headlands Beach State Park is located near Chardon, Chesterland and Cleveland
A scenic picnic area with tables and grills is provided. The picnic shelter may be reserved by calling, the main office
at Cleveland Lakefront State Park at (216) 881-8141.
Hiking trails are available in the adjacent state nature preserve.
Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, located at the east end of the park, is one of the last and finest remaining
examples of Lake Erie beach and dune communities in Ohio. Many plant species not found in northeastern Ohio
grow abundantly along the dunes, including sand-dropseed, Canada wild-rye, wafer-ash and wild bean. The
preserve is open to the public during daylight hours.
Bordering the southside of the park is Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, a National Natural Landmark. The
644-acre, marsh-swamp forest is jointly owned and managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division
of Natural Areas and Preserves and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Open during daylight hours only, the
preserve is home to varied plant and animal life. A five-mile hiking trail, the Zimmerman trail, provides access to the
Adjacent to the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve is the 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve & Marina
owned and operated by the City of Mentor.
The newest nature preserve in Ohio, it boasts over five miles of nature trails and 1-1/2 miles of wild beach. The city
offers tours by foot, boat, and bike. Electric carts are also available so the physically challenged can explore. Call
440-205-DOCK, or visit www.cityofmentor.com.
Punderson State Park is located within a half-hour drive. This resort park includes a lodge, cabins, campground, golf
course and winter recreation area.
Nearby Fairport Harbor is the site of the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum. The museum is housed in the former
lightkeeper's dwelling adjacent to the 1871 lighthouse tower.
Within a short drive of the park is the community of Mentor. Holden Arboretum, east of town, includes walking trails,
visitor center, reference library and picnic area. The 3,100-acre site is especially colorful when spring flowers are
blooming. Lawnfield, the restored home of President James A. Garfield, is also open to the public. Tours highlight a
museum, original furnishings, the 1880 campaign office and a carriage house.
Erieshore Beverage & Bait
35608 Lake Shore Blvd
Minnow Bucket Inc The
8292 Lake Shore Blvd
Chagrin River Bait & Tackle
140 Forest Dr
9620 Diamond Centre Dr
D & w Bait Shop
786 Richmond St
Grand River Tackle
1250 High St
Fairport Harbor, OH
A Lure Fishing Charters
6391 Iroquois TRL
Aqua Fantasea Fishing Charters
6076 Walden Ct
FJR Industries Inc
5436 Stoney LN
A Lure Fishing Charters
8911 Doral Dr
North Coast Beverage & Tackle
35579 Lake Shore Blvd
Cleveland Ski Club Inc
12721 Concord Hambden Rd
Concord Township, OH
Mentor Figure Skating Club
8600 Munson Rd
9601 Headlands Road, Mentor, OH 44060