Connecticut’s shores face the Long Island Sound, creating a stretch of picturesque beaches with soft, gentle waves. The state is home to over 300 miles of shoreline, along which you’ll find quaint coastal towns, sandy beaches, and calm, salty waters. While there are many beaches in Connecticut, the longest beach is in a popular state park. Read on to learn about this scenic beach and the wildlife you may encounter there.
What is the Longest Beach in Connecticut?
With over two miles of shoreline, the longest public beach in Connecticut is in the Hammonasset Beach State Park. The beach is known for its calm waters and pink-tinted sand. Geologists believe the pink sand, which is located on the west side of the park, comes from garnet deposits from the last ice age. The beach is also part of the Connecticut Garnet Trail, a hiking trail through the state where the mineral is most likely to be spotted.
Hammonasset Beach State Park receives almost two million visitors each year. Further, it contains 1,000 acres of beaches and marshland. There is a lot to do along the two miles of beach in Hammonassett Beach State Park. The park offers swimming, bicycle rentals, camping, picnicking, saltwater fishing, scuba diving, boating, concessions, and walking paths.
The History of Hammonasset Beach
Before European settlers arrived, Native American tribes fished along the shoreline and grew crops of beans, corn, and squash in the flatlands. In the 1800s, the site was used as a test range for firearms for the Winchester Repeating Arms company. However, the state bought the land to use as a public park in 1919. Over 75,000 people visited in 1920, the year it opened.
The park was closed to the public for a brief time in the 1940s and used for airborne target practice by P-47 fighter pilots. When World War II ended, the park reopened and has remained open to the public ever since.
Where is Hammonassett Beach Located on the Map?
Hammonassett Beach is located on the Long Island Sound in the town of Madison, CT. Situated about an hour south of Hartford, the beach is split into three parts: West, Middle, and East, with parking lots for each location. The walk along the shoreline stretches for two miles from Meigs Point to West Beach.
Wildlife Found at Hammonassett Beach State Park
The area has a diverse amount of wildlife including shorebirds, birds of prey, marine animals, and mammals.
Birds at Hammonassett Beach State Park
According to the Audobon, the Hammonassett Beach State Park is home to a variety of habitats, including brackish tidal marsh and nearby grasslands, which makes it a prime spot for bird watching. Some of the species in the area include osprey, piping plovers, short-eared owls, least terns, and American oystercatchers.
What is Swimming in the Long Island Sound?
Species found swimming in the waters off the beach include sea turtles, seals, crabs, and sometimes even dolphins, porpoises, and humpback whales. The sea turtle species in the area include loggerhead and leatherback. The four types of seal species are the harbor, harp, hooded, and grey seal.
Mammals Found on Land
Some mammals you could encounter in the state park include red foxes, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and white-tailed deer.
Things To Do Near Hammonassett Beach State Park
Aside from walking the beaches, birdwatching, camping, picnicking, and swimming, there are also other points of interest near the state park.
Meigs Point Nature Center
This environmental educational center located in Hammonassett Beach State Park offers close-up views and hands-on displays of over 50 species of local wildlife. Many of the animals living at the Meigs Point Nature Center are recovering from injuries and may not be able to be released. Guests can observe a variety of native species including snakes, turtles, fish, crabs, and amphibians.
Shoreline Greenway Trail
A section of the 25-mile cycling and pedestrian trail winds its way through Hammonasset Beach State Park. It’s an easy walking trail and also a popular spot for bird watching. Additionally, you can take a rest along several scenic benches installed by Eagle Scouts.
Not too far from Hammonassett Beach lies the small island of Tuxis. Tuxis Island is an uninhabited, forested island about 1,000 feet off the shore of Madison. The island was formed by glaciers and is mostly made of granite. It’s an especially good spot for birdwatching. About 15 different species of birds regularly nest here, including egrets, herons, and oystercatchers. However, the island is owned by the Madison Beach Club and is closed to the public at times so as not to disturb the nesting birds.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Enfi/Shutterstock.com
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