Paddling Erie from Toledo to Buffalo

I would like to paddle Erie from Toledo, OH to Buffalo, NY at some point in time waaayyy past Covid-19.

Looking for advice or a pointer to good information from experienced Erie paddlers.

Maybe for starters, I should paddle Buffalo > Toledo instead to ride the East wind?!

Have paddled many 90 mile trips in the BWCA, Isle Royale in Superior, some short trips on Lake Michigan, and dozens and dozens and dozens of flat water trips.

Paddling in a 16’ 10” QCC Q700X kevlar rig.

what are you gonna paddle? As you probably know the Lake changes in an instant. And where do you go ashore at those times? There’s very little public access or egress along that route. People are very protective of their lakefront property

and you’re probably talking about a 300 mile paddle

In 2017 Traci Martin paddled a Stellar surfski along the south shore of Lake Erie, after circumnavigating Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior. She would be a good source for information. You could try contacting her at

As coronaboy noted, Lake Erie is mercurial and can be quite nasty.

I have paddled from PA just over the border to Buffalo NOT in one outing did it over the summer breaking it in to several paddles each about 13 to 18 mile paddles. It was a paddle done by Evergreen Outfitters by a guy Jeremy. You could give them a call for launch and land points for at least that part of your trip. Head from Toledo to Buffalo as that is the way the wind usually blows. But NOT always as one part we did it in the other direction. Watch weather as it can get waves as high as 10 feet on good surf days. You will see me out there on those days. Not a day for a QCC type boat.

QCC700X is 18 foot by the way. owned one. Maybe the 600X as that was in the 16 foot range. .

Big water. Are you planning to go solo? I would get a lot of information about places you can land when the wind comes up.
Obviously PFD and dress for immersion. Consider a cockpit cover for your boat. Learn to self rescue. Stay near shore. Get up early and get off the water soon after noon. Bring a weather radio. Get an electronic beacon to mark your position.

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Awesome advice. I do have a solid paddling skirt, carbon fiber paddle, SARSAT beacon, wet suit, and all the necessary light weight, high end camp gear.

Hopefully I can go for this in Summer 2021

Thanks for all the advice.

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Hopefully I could do 20-25 miles a day. Lots of planning to do.

You are going to have to deal with a lot of wind. Kind of like setting out on the PCT and announcing I will be going 25 miles a day. You can probably work up to that over time if you are not too heavily loaded. You will often have to quit paddling by noon or 1400 on days when the land sea breeze comes up. Some days you may have trouble making 12. You will need some rest days. You will and so would anyone trying to make the same trip.

HI rimoorex,
Can you self rescue? Most people use a paddle float and a bilge pump. Do you have bulkheads in your boat? Or you can use a sea sock.
Do you know how to roll?

I’d advise drywear rather than a wetsuit for all day paddling. You’re going to get rashes and chafing from having damp skin all day long. Look into a dry suit or at least something like the NRS Hydroskins with a dry top over them. With separate pants and top you can take off the shirt and cool down on warm still days. A Goretex dry top, preferably with a hood, could be worn over the Hydroskins on windy or cooler days. Hydroskins, especially the plush lined 1.5 mm, are very comfortable for wearing all day.

And you will get a lot of nasty weather. I drive the interstate along there, from Erie to Buffalo, and from Erie to Toledo (I live in Pittsburgh) several times a year to visit family in upstate NY or Michigan and some of the worst driving conditions I have ever encountered (and I have driven in nearly every state in the lower 48) are along the Erie south shore even in summer. Driving rain so heavy it is like being under a waterfall and the wipers can’t keep up, pea soup fog and winds that nearly blow my car off the road. I won’t even attempt that route in the winter, and in the other seasons I study the predictions and weather maps carefully before taking that route. The weather systems that come down over the Canadian Shield and across the lake can be brutal. There is virtually no geographic barrier between the Arctic Circle and Lake Erie, just Hudson Bay and the flat expanse of that portion of Ontario.

Also remember you are going to have to occasionally go ashore to relieve yourself, which can be awkward in a wet suit along a shoreline which is going to be populated virtually the entire way. Speaking of the population, finding places to crash overnight is also going to be a challenge. Not much choice for commando camping on many sections of that route especially in Ohio. (Going along the north shore in Ontario would be less “urban” since that is mostly farm land and a few small towns.) All the things you have to consider in planning such a trip.

I will suggest a campground at one point along the lake: Evangola State Park, 37 miles SW of Buffalo. Sandy beach access and a very nicely equipped tent site area on the shore.