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Sherwood Island


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, which is also 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.

Ecological Importance
  • You can find three different types of sand on the beach — garnet which has a red color, magnetite which has a black color, and quartz which has a white color. The waves tend to separate the sand by type. 
  • The park consists of dunes, meadows, forests, and saltmarsh which provide many different habitats for wildlife viewing.  
  • A colony of Purple Martins nests outside of the nature center. 
  • Birdwatching on the island is possible in all four seasons! Keep an eye-out for year-round birds, migratory birds, and in the colder months, watch for different species of ducks. 
Recreational Opportunities
  • 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.
Dive Deeper
  • 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!
  • Check out the eBird page for Sherwood Island State Park to see what species have been seen in the area. When you’ve finished, add you own sightings from your visit. 
  • Watch a video on the Purple Martin colony at Sherwood Island from the Friends of Sherwood Island’s YouTube channel. 
Places to Visit
  • The 9/11 Living Memorial is Connecticut’s official memorial for 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 CT DEEP (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.
  • Visit Earthplace, a science education center in Westport, Connecticut. The center has different animal demonstrations throughout the day, as well as an animal hall. They also manage a 62-acre wildlife sanctuary that is open to the public from dawn to dusk.  
  • Check out the costal access guide before visiting for information on parking and directions.
Get Involved/Events
  • 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 CT DEEP web page provides directions to the park, a historical overview, information on facilities, and other useful links.
Field Notes
  • The Park closes at dusk daily.
  • Print out CT DEEP’s portable map of trails and facilities at Sherwood.
  • Dogs are prohibited between April 15 and Sept. 30 every year; contact the park office for details on these restrictions.
  • 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. When in season, the center is open Wednesday-Sunday 10am to 4pm.
  • Be sure to check CT DEEP’s shore fishing guidelines before going fishing at the park.
  • A Visit to the Purple Martins Colony – Milan Bull and Tina Green. Friends of Sherwood Island. Web. July 9, 2021. 
  • Friends of Sherwood Island State Park. Friends of Sherwood Island. Web. July 9, 2021. 

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