Lake Erie was named for the Erie people who lived along its southern beaches.
It is the smallest of the four Great Lakes that touch Michigan's shores and accounts for a stretch of coastline from the Ohio border to the mouth of the Detroit River in the southeast region of the state.
The water surface of Lake Erie is 9,910 square miles, and it is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, with an average depth of just 62 feet. Lake Erie has played an important role in transportation to the upper Great Lakes region and was the site of many pivotal battles in the War of 1812. Recently designated as the River Raisin National Battlefield Park, the location of one of these important conflicts, preserves and commemorates Michigan’s history.
Lake Erie is known for its sport fishing, particularly of walleye and yellow perch. The 1,300-acre Sterling State Park offers over one mile of sandy beach, lagoon and shore fishing, a boat launch, hiking trails and lakefront campsites along Lake Erie.
The nearby Lake Erie Metropark is home to coastal marshes and wetlands that allow for a variety of wildlife viewing, particularly of raptors, or birds-of-prey, that pass through in the fall. This park is the site of the Hawkfest, where people gather to watch the annual fall hawk migration and partake in games, crafts and presentations.
Pointe Mouillee State Game Area, just south of the Metropark, is 4,000 acres of marshes, wildlife, hiking, shoreline and one of the world's largest freshwater marsh restoration projects. It has also hosted its annual Waterfowl Festival in the fall since 1947, one of the oldest events of its kind in Michigan since the environment makes it the perfect setting for shorebird viewing.