Location: Westport, CT
Anchor Site(s): Sherwood Island State Park
About the Site: Purchased in 1914, Sherwood Island is Connecticut’s first state park. Its 234 acres are divided into a distinct east side (including a sandy beach, tidal marsh,nature trail, and the popular model airplane field) and west side (hiking trails, picnic tables, marsh and forest ).The division between these areas is Sherwood Point, a rocky area popular for fishing and viewing boats across the New York City skyline, as well as the site of Connecticut’s official 9/11 Living Memorial.The park’s nature center, open late spring through early fall, is a state-of-the-art facility featuring interactive displays, outdoor education programs, and free weekly lectures and special events.
- Catch a striped bass while fishing from the shore outside of designated swim areas.
- Relax on the sandy beaches or picnic areas.
- Before you visit, review the map of the park’s trails and facilities.
- Launch your canoe or kayak at the boat launch at the far west end of West Beach that provides access to Mill Creek at the far east end of the park and a paddle through the beautiful Mill Creek saltmarsh.
- Bring binoculars and a birding guide to identify birds and visit the observation deck on the east side of the marsh behind West Beach to get the best panorama views of the marsh.
- Visit the nature center (open late spring through early fall) to engage in nature walks, outdoor activities, animal interactions, and engaging displays of the area’s human and environmental history. Private programs are available for schools, camps, family reunions, birthdays, scouts, and other groups as requested.
- Friends of Sherwood Island
The Friends of Sherwood Island website is the perfect resource for news on upcoming events, the park’s history, learning tools, internships and exciting volunteer opportunities. Explore the island’s many bird species through professional photo galleries and firsthand birding diaries that span 14 years!
- Video Interview by the “Outdoor Enthusiast”
Watch this video interview to see Jim Beschle, the park director, describing how well visitors coexist with the site’s rich natural environment and get a sense of the nature center during its first summer open in 2009.
- The 9/11 Living Memorial is Connecticut’s official memorial of the lives of those from the state who lost their lives in the tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001. On that date, crowds at Sherwood Point watched from across the Sound as smoke clouded the New York City skyline. The gathering spot is now marked by a large black cherry tree, which watches over the memorial.
- The Sherwood Island Nature Center opened in spring 2009 after dedicated fundraising and organizing by Friends of Sherwood Island and CTDEEP (see a slideshow of the construction here). It features dozens of displays of local wildlife, educational exhibits, an internship program, and speakers and events that are always free to the public. Check its website to decide which events to explore, and remember that it is only open during the spring and summer every year.
- The Friends of Sherwood Island page features an up-to-date events list and always welcomes new members and volunteers. It also manages a Flickr photostream with pictures of the park and related activities and conferences.
- The Sherwood Island Nature Center seeks out high school aged interns to work at the facility every summer; contact the center director for details.
- The CTDEEP web page provides directions to the park, a historical overview, information on facilities, and other useful links
- The Park closes at dusk daily.
- Print out CTDEEP’s portable map of trails and facilities at Sherwood.
- Dogs are prohibited between May 15 and Sept. 30 every year; contact the park office for details on these restrictions.
- State park fees apply for entry.
- Swimmers are recommended to wear water shoes to protect against sharp rocks and shells.
- The nature center is closed for half of the year, from Memorial Day through spring, while the park and beach are open year-round.
- Bring bug spray if you plan to walk along the marsh!
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