Sherwood Island State Park is a wonderful recreation area along the Long Island Sound that offers beaches for swimming, tables for picnicking, and even a runway for flying model airplanes. Nestled in the Green Farms section of Westport, it spans 238 acres of shoreline, wetlands, fields, and woodlands. There are restrooms, food concessions, pavilions, shelters, and showers.
Swimmers are advised to wear water shoes due to the large array of sharp shells and rocks that settle on the beach. Anglers should head toward the west side of the park to the designated surf and shore fishing areas. Sherwood Island also has a nature center (open Wednesday to Sunday) that shares information about the large diversity of flora and fauna that populate the region. Throughout the summer you can even take a guided walk of the grounds and find some great birdwatching locations. The park is open throughout the year from sunrise to sunset, but there are parking fees from Memorial Day to Labor Day. For more information, you can also refer to the park’s map maintained by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DeeP).
At high tide, the park actually becomes separated from the mainland of Connecticut as saltwater wraps around the land and floods the marshes. The highest point on the park is the drumlin, and there are signs and fences that request pedestrians not walk on the area due to its high level of erosion on the sound side. Mill Pond is at the western boundary and New Creek creates the eastern border.
This coastline maintains a unique geology with sand colors that alternate from tan to red to black. This separation reflects the difference in densities of garnet, the state mineral, and the dark metallic magnetite. The lighter tan color is mostly composed of the less dense quartz mineral which, therefore, gets pushed by wave energy furthest up the beach. You’ll also notice large basalt boulders that were transported into the park to support the bank and protect the beach from erosion.
When the park was settled in the 1600s, farmers worked the land and a former creek ran down the middle of the marshland. The Sherwoods bought the parcel in the 1800s and continued to grow onions and potatoes for shipment to New York City. They also ran a gristmill for grinding grain into flower for the local farmers. The first portion of the park’s property was purchased by the Connecticut State Park Commission in 1914, and it was succeeded by many other purchases from several owners. It became Connecticut’s first state park and was eventually developed, opened to the public, and turned into a beautiful shoreline park.
The most recent addition to Sherwood Island is Connecticut’s 9/11 Living Memorial. It was dedicated in September 2002 and contains bio-plaques (no remains) and a sculpture by Connecticut artists David Boyajian and Matt Rink that incorporates artifacts from the World Trade Center. Donations help to maintain the area, and you can aid these ongoing efforts. Visit the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for details.