Jun 14, 2012
07:53 AMDiscover Connecticut
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The islands that dot Long Island Sound are the most photographed and famous, but it’s not so well known that the Connecticut River, as it runs through Connecticut, is home to 15 islands. Chief among these is Selden Island, at 607 acres the largest in the state. Selden was once the westernmost extremity of Lyme that jutted into the river, but an 1854 flood altered the landscape and turned it into an island, separated from the shore by Selden Creek. Today, as Selden Neck State Park, it’s Connecticut’s only island state park. With its many put-ins, it’s a popular destination for boaters, especially on summer weekends. The island’s features include marked hiking trails (which pass by the ruins of an ancient farm and a stone quarry) and four boating camp areas—primitive in nature (outhouses and pit fireplaces) but blissfully removed from the workaday world. For further info, visit ct.gov/dep.
Depending upon how you define what an island is, there are possibly more than 100 Thimble Islands, but only a couple dozen that are large enough to be inhabited. The Indian name for them translates to “beautiful sea rocks,” and on a calm summer morning you can see why. With their pink granite heads poking above the high-water mark (barely, in some cases), they scatter like a handful of charms across the Sound from Indian Neck to Sachem’s Head.
What’s more, each island has a story to tell—how it got its name, what Capt. Kidd buried there, where the horse came ashore and so on. One good way to hear these stories is to take a cruise among the islands. You can do this by going to thimbleislands.com orthimbleislandcruise.com. Or you can just take a kayak out and make up your own stories.
It would be hard to devote any sort of space to the subject of islands in Connecticut without mentioning the great natural treasure known as the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.
Spread across some 950 acres of barrier beach, tidal wetland and other habitats in 10 locations along the shore, the refuge provides a protected environment for shorebirds, wading birds, songbirds, and even endangered species such as the roseate tern. Here, the birds can nest, feed or just rest as they make their way up and down the Atlantic Flyway. Adjacent waters serve as wintering habitat for brant, scoters, American black ducks and other waterfowl.
The islands in this archipelago include Outer Island in Branford, Falkner Island in Guilford, Chimon, Sheffield, Goose and Peach islands in Norwalk and Calf Island in Greenwich. Outer Island and Sheffield Island are accessible by ferry; some of the others can be accessed by private boat.