Silver Sands State Park is a cherished 297-acre beach, restored salt marshland, fishing area, and wildlife refuge in Milford, Connecticut. It includes about 2 miles of walking trails with gorgeous beaches overlooking Charles Island and the Long Island Sound. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sunset and has picnic areas, boardwalks, docks, and hiking trails for your enjoyment and recreation. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection manages the area and has a published a map of the park that shares some general information about the rules and regulations.
The parking area is near a series of picnic tables where pets can be kept on a leash no more than 7 feet in length. Pets are not allowed outside of this area to help protect the wildlife. In front of you, a 200-foot boardwalk leads across the marsh and Fletchers Creek out to the beach. Bicycles are not allowed, but the path is likely to be shared by runners and baby carriages. The actual Silver Sands beach is about three-quarters of a mile long, and the boardwalk continues along the entire coast.
Perhaps the most thrilling feature of this park is the sandbar, which extends out to Charles Island. Only visible in low tides, this half-mile long gravel/sand tombolo leads a gentle curve from the mainland out to a bird sanctuary. While rumor has it that Captain Kidd buried his treasure on the island in 1699, the only reported remains that have been found are that of a Catholic retreat center, which existed there in the 1920s and 1930s. There are several postings that describe the dangers of hiking on this water-covered land strip, which floods twice daily. Please respect the intent of this notice, along with the rule prohibiting access to the island’s interior between May 1 and August 31 to protect heron and egret rookeries, one of the largest areas of its kind in the state.
Over 200 species of birds have been seen here in this highly important nesting and foraging area, where birds visit for spring/fall migration and wintering. There are raptors, such as the snowy owl, and common terns protected by the Federal and Connecticut endangered species acts.
The western end of the boardwalk exits into Walnut Public Beach, which hosts the Walnut Beach Arts Festival, a summer concert series, and a number of other events throughout the year. Nearby, a hiking path leads from the boardwalk, upstream along Nettleton Creek, and down a paved road, creating a loop back to the parking area. This old dirt path is a segment of the East Coast Greenway, an international trail network along the Eastern Seaboard between Florida and Canada.
Silver Sands is a recently improved state park that was the former site of 300 parcels and 75 homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Diane in 1955. In 1960, Connecticut bought the property and designated it a state park. Until 1977, it had been used as a local dumping site and landfill, which most likely contributed to the high presence of heavy metal pollutants in past soil analyses. Fortunately, remediation efforts began in 1990 and were completed in 2000 to restore the tidal marsh.