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  • At-a-Glance
  • What to Look For
  • Noteworthy Rarities
  • Natural Features
  • Local Resources
  • 46 - Huron Harbor West Pier

    End of North Main Street
    Huron, OH


    Public Access

    Open daily, year-round

    GPS Coordinates

    N 41° 23'53.03"; W 82° 33'1.28"

    Driving Directions

    The site can be reached from U.S. Route 6 (Lakeside) in downtown Huron. Turn north at the stoplight, at the intersection with SR 13 and follow the river about a mile to a small parking lot at the foot of the pier.

    What to Look For

    One of southern Lake Erie's truly legendary "lake watch" hotspots in this 2/3-mile pier that extends into the lake from the mouth of the Huron River. A prominent feature along the pier is a diked spoil impoundment that encloses nearly 70 acres. In the late 1970's and 1980's, the mudflats within this impoundment attracted large numbers of gulls, terns, and shorebirds, including a number of rarities. Today, much of the site is thickly overgrown with giant reed (Phragmites australis).

    The best birding occurs from October through December, with the best viewing at or near the 72-foot tall lighthouse at the pier's terminus. Massive numbers of gulls often congregate in this area, and huge numbers of waterfowl occur offshore. Bonaparte's Gulls can gather by the tens of thousands, and nearly inestimable flocks of Red-breasted Mergansers can be seen passing by. The weedy vegetation of the spoil impoundment is also worth searching as numerous sparrows and other songbirds utilize this sheltered area in both spring and fall migration.

    Noteworthy Rarities

    Three state firsts have been found from the Huron pier: Pacific Loon, Spotted Redshank, and Arctic Tern. Many other rarities have been found, some with various regularity. Purple Sandpiper and Snowy Owl are sometimes seen on area breakwalls, and Northern Gannet has been spotted several times. Sabine's Gull has turned up and Red Phalarope has been seen numerous times.

    Natural Features

    Visitors in late fall may notice large congregations of a distinctive insect, the box-elder bug (Boisea trivittata) on sun-warmed cement walls of the pier or on the trunks of adjacent box-elder (Acer negundo) trees.

    Local Resources

    City of Huron
    Lake Erie Shores & Islands
    Ohio Ornithological Society

    Nearby Lake Access Sites

    Waterplant Beach. This ½-acre lakefront park is about one thousand feet west of the Huron Harbor West Pier, at the intersection of West and Sail Away Drives. Good views of the sheltered waters between the spoil impoundment and mainland are available.

    Nickel Plate Beach. Located just east of the mouth of the Huron River and its east breakwall, this 12-acre beach is always worth checking for its shorebirds and roosting gulls and terns. It also offers access to the 1/3-mile long east jetty, which sometimes harbors Purple Sandpiper. The beach is at the junction of Tiffin Avenue and Nickel Plate Drive.