Jun 14, 2012
07:53 AMDiscover Connecticut
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As befits a state with some 253 miles of shoreline on Long Island Sound and countless others along and around its rivers and lakes, Connecticut is a good place for islands. By one estimate, there are 180 of them large enough to be named, more than there are Connecticut cities and towns. And they are named after all sorts of things. There’s Peach Island and Potato Island, Umbrella, Sixpenny, Cut in Two and East Stooping Bush. There are a lot of islands named after animals: Hen, Horse, Rat, Pelican, Goose, Goat, Fox, Duck, Deer, Crow, Cat, Clam, Bear, Ram, Peacock and Mouse. The largest is Selden Island, in the Connecticut River, at 607 acres. The smallest is little more than an anonymous lump that reveals itself at low tide and then menaces local boat traffic after the tide comes back in.
There are many ways for you to enjoy Connecticut’s islands this summer. You can walk out to Charles Island off Milford, kayak through the Thimbles off Branford, take a boat and a picnic out to Sheffield Island off Norwalk, or spend an afternoon with a cooler and a beach chair on Dart Island, just off a bend of the river shoreline in Middletown. Enjoy one of the islands around you. It’s a good way to spend a summer day in Connecticut.
Connecticut is home to 23 lighthouses along the Sound, but not many are open to the public. That’s not the case with Sheffield Island, off Norwalk, where, following a pleasant boat ride, visitors can hike, picnic and climb up into the lighthouse for a tour.
From May through September, the Norwalk Seaport Association’s 45-foot catamaran runs scheduled cruises to the island, where the lighthouse tower provides views of Long Island Sound and, on a clear day, the New York City skyline. The 10-room lighthouse, which first went into service in 1868, displays period furniture, and a glimpse of what life was like for the families of 19th-century keepers.
Another attraction of Sheffield Island is the nature trail that runs through the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge. A variety of wildlife including nesting herons and other birds can be observed from viewing platforms.
For further info, call (203) 838-9444 or visit seaport.org.
Walk This Way
You know when it’s low tide along the shore at Silver Sands State Park in Milford. That’s when the pathway to Charles Island opens up, above, allowing for one of Connecticut’s most peculiar hikes. The island is connected to the mainland by a sand/gravel bar (wear sturdy waterproof shoes if you go) that resubmerges at high tide. The notorious pirate Captain Kidd is said to have buried some of his treasure on the island in 1699 just before he was captured. If you go looking for some of his gold, be sure it’s during the off-season. Charles Island’s interior is closed May 1 through Aug. 31 to protect heron and egret rookeries.