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Norwalk Harbor


Norwalk, CT

Anchor Site(s)

Calf Pasture Beach and Veterans Memorial Park

About the Site

Veterans Memorial Park is a 35-acre expanse with a marina and boat launch open to the public for a small usage fee. Its playgrounds, bike and jogging paths, basketball courts, and baseball fields overlook scenic Norwalk Harbor and are open from dawn until dusk year-round. Calf Pasture Beach is the area’s most popular recreational area. Its large sandy beach allows visitors to swim under a lifeguard’s supervision, go fishing off the pier, and view clusters of the Norwalk Islands from the shore. Its facilities include courts for sand volleyball and bocce, a skate park, baseball diamonds, a small boat ramp (car-top launches only), a playground, and a food concession each summer.

Ecological Importance
  • During the last ice age, the sea level rose and a river valley flooded, creating the Norwalk Harbor.  
  • Norwalk Harbor is an estuary where the freshwater of the Norwalk River meets the saltwater of the Long Island Sound – there are many unique species that can only survive in these brackish waters. 
  • This area is one of the centers for commercial shell fishing in Long Island Sound.  
  • Water pollution has been a big issue for the harbor and many restoration efforts have been made over the past few decades. 
Recreational Opportunities
  • Head to Calf Pasture Beach to enjoy lifeguarded swimming, picnicking, birdwatching, fishing, a food concession during the summer, and a large kid-approved playground.
  • Use the marina and boat launch site at Veterans Memorial Park.
  • Bike or jog along paths that overlook Norwalk Harbor.
Dive Deeper
  • Norwalk River Watershed Association
    The Norwalk River Watershed Association (NRWA) website provides a trove of historical and current information on the Norwalk area. It features an up-to-date events calendar, volunteer information, and a vast collection of freely available publications that are both practical and ecologically insightful. Canoers and kayakers can use the photo atlas map to get acquainted with points along the Norwalk River, while anyone with a general interest in the Norwalk Islands can browse hundreds of links by focus and type.
  • Read up on the Norwalk River Watershed Action Plan from CT DEEP, which covers everything from pollutant loads to management goals for the river. 
  • Check out this environmental learning series created by Earthplace, which gives tips on how to protect the environment and the Norwalk Harbor.  
Places to Visit
  • Chimon and Sheffield Islands, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, are designated as a Stewardship Area for their ecological importance. The Sheffield Island lighthouse is open to the public and is accessible by ferry.
  • The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk makes for an exciting and educational family excursion. From exhibits journeying through the rich habitats of the Long Island Sound to close encounters with animals like sharks and seals, the aquarium has long been a popular attraction. Stop by the 4-D theater for a one-of-a-kind experience!
  • Adjacent to Veterans Park, but far less accessible, Canfield Island Cove is a 109-acre marsh area that supports rich biodiversity. In recent decades it has lost significant amounts of high marsh and aquatic beds to climate change-induced rise in sea level.
Get Involved/Events
  • The Norwalk Seaport Association has been committed to preserving  to preserving and promoting Norwalk Harbor since 1978. It offers the only organized transport to Sheffield Island.
  • The Norwalk River Watershed Association’s events calendar displays free programs on the river’s importance and features, while its volunteer page suggests ways that anyone can help out.
  • The CT Coastal Access Guide provides directions and background on Sheffield Island, its lighthouse, and the Maritime Aquarium.
  • The City of Norwalk’s official Calf Pasture Beach web page features a video slideshow of the area, giving a colorful preview of what sights to expect from a visit.
Field Notes
  • Norwalk Sailing School has sailboat and kayak rentals available at Calf Pasture Beach.
  • Beach passes are free for all Norwalk residents.
  • The City of Norwalk maintains docks for visitors to use for a small fee; check out the visitors’ dock web page for hours, rates, and details.
  • Shell fishing is regulated and requires a permit; reference the Norwalk Shellfish Commission’s rules and regulations to know how to harvest appropriately.
  • Long Beach hummock, a small body of sand that almost disappears during high tide, can be dangerous to boaters unfamiliar with the area.
  • Nonpoint Source Program Success Story. EPA. Web. June 29, 2021.  
  • Norwalk Islands/Harbor. Norwalk, CT. Web. June 29, 2021. 
  • Norwalk River Watershed Association. Norwalk River Watershed Association. Web. June 29, 2021.  

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