Friday, March 7, 2008

Stratford Point

Most people around here have been to Short Beach in Stratford at one time or another, but very few know that you can walk south along the shore for about a mile to the Stratford Point Lighthouse, built in 1881.

From Short Beach you can see the former Remington Gun Club at the point, the really big house sitting all by itself. The Gun Club was shut down due to lead contamination, and the owner Dupont was ordered to remediate the site, which it did. The land was then going to be transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an addition to the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge, who was to turn the site into a public access and educational facility. However, the land transfer has stalled due to remaining contamination. The site is none-the-less being used as a scientific research facility as well as a local public access point, although it is not advertised as such.

When you get near the Gun Club, the shore will steepen and is covered by rip-rap. At that point, you have the option of walking along a mowed grassy path at the top of the slope, which is what most people do because it's a beautiful walk. You'll round the point and head straight to the lighthouse, which is occupied by a Coast Guard family and strictly off-limits (a fence surrounds the lighthouse complex). This spot is a wonderful location for a picnic.

The Point marks the tip of the Housatonic River Delta. Yes, we have a delta in Connecticut.

If you go, be sure to respect any signs or barricades that may be installed to protect the Plovers or ongoing scientific studies. An alternative access point is on Prospect Drive, just past Riverdale Lane, at a pull-off lined by boulders. Walk to the left of the chain-link fence and follow the heavily-used trail down to the water (this avoids the beach fee).

Here's a pair of Long-Tailed Ducks near the lighthouse. These are sea ducks that breed in the Arctic and can dive as much as 200 feet to find food such as snails.

1 comment:

Richard (of the Trails) said...

As a kid, I enjoyed going to Pleasure Beach, sometimes to fish, sometimes to the amusement park, and a few times to the beach itself, though I was always afraid of the horseshoe crabs (never saw them at Seaside Park). In recent years I've enjoyed walking the stretch from Long Beach to the cottages. My fear is that if the NPS builds a boardwalk, it will become a highway for the druggies and teen drinkers looking to do their thing at Pleasure Beach. It's the Yin and the Yang of access to nature!