Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park

March 16, 2024 – Milford, Connecticut

Problem: Straightforward – average

Size: Roughly 3 miles

Max elevation: 27 ft. – complete elevation achieve roughly 20 ft.

Map: Silver Sands State Park Trail MapMap & Brochure

Parking: 1 Silver Sands Pkwy, Milford, CT 06460

Paved car parking zone – Restrooms on web site

Hours: Open Every day, 8:00am – Sundown

Entrance Charges:
No cost for Connecticut registered autos
From April 1 by October 31:
$22 – Out-of-State Autos (Weekends/Holidays)
$15 – Out-of-State Autos (Weekdays)

Please Observe: The sandbar that connects to Charles Island overwashes twice a day when the tides are available in, creating harmful currents and undertow. Strolling on any portion when it’s lined with water needs to be prevented.


Park Overview:

Silver Sands State Park in Milford, Connecticut is a 297-acre pure haven that incorporates a mixture of seashore, salt marshland, fishing space, and wildlife refuge. The park boasts breathtaking views of the Lengthy Island Sound, Charles Island, and the encompassing wildlife.

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island - Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park

Seashores, boardwalks, birds, and a sandbar connecting the park to Charles Island are the large points of interest at Silver Sands State Park. Rated the most effective state park in Connecticut by Journey & Leisure, the park sits alongside over 1/2-mile of shoreline and incorporates a three-quarter-mile, all-weather boardwalk, sand dunes, marshland, wildlife, and a stunning array of seashells.

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Over 200 species of birds are seen at Silver Sands. They use this essential space for nesting, wintering, and foraging areas throughout spring and fall migration.

Red-winged Blackbird - Silver Sands State Park

Pink-winged Blackbird – Silver Sands State Park

Rough-legged Hawk - Silver Sands State Park

Tough-legged Hawk – Silver Sands State Park

Great Blue Heron - Silver Sands State Park

Nice Blue Heron – Silver Sands State Park

Great Egret - Silver Sands State Park

Nice Egret – Silver Sands State Park

Many butterflies, a number of uncommon crops, and different wildlife can be seen throughout walks on this space.

Charles Island is a 14-acre island situated roughly a 1/2 mile off the coast of Milford, Connecticut, in Lengthy Island Sound. Although an island throughout excessive tide, throughout low tide it’s accessible by foot utilizing a rocky tombolo (regionally known as a sandbar) that stretches from the seashore to the island. Guests are cautioned concerning the sturdy undertow and twice-daily flooding of the sandbar because of the tides.

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

Silver Sands State Park and Charles Island are owned and managed by the Connecticut Division of Vitality and Environmental Safety (DEEP).

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park


Historical past:

Charles Island was initially often called Poquehaug and “was a favourite summer season resort” with chief sachem Ansantawae of the Paugussett Tribe having a “huge wigwam” upon it. After the world was settled by the English in 1639, the island was known as Milford Island. It was renamed Charles Island after Charles Deal purchased the 14-acre island in 1657. Deal made a failed try to boost tobacco on the island, one of many first such efforts in Connecticut.

In 1835 Main John Harris bought the island for $800 and constructed a gorgeous summer season residence there. The massive dwelling, constructed on the very best floor, had verandas encircling it on the primary and second tales. Harris elegantly furnished the home and spent $14,000 grading and landscaping the island making it resemble “a big inexperienced inverted saucer.” After his dying the island had a number of completely different house owners.

In 1852 it was bought by Elizur Pritchard of Waterbury, Connecticut, a rich button producer who had lately retired. Pritchard turned the big home right into a summer season resort identified initially as Island Home, then later Charles Island Home after which Ansantawae Home. On Thanksgiving Day 1860, Pritchard died whereas strolling again to shore on the tombolo. His daughter Sarah continued to run the resort and expanded it with new options. The lodge grew to a complete of seventy-five rooms and different enhancements included a swimming tub with plank backside, and an aquarium claimed to be the biggest within the nation.

Island House

Island Home

The resort closed by 1868, when the island was leased to the George W. Miles Firm to construct a plant to supply fertilizer and fish oil. The fish oil plant functioned there till 1884 when it closed amidst lawsuits introduced by the city due to the odors that emanated from the operation. The as soon as grand lodge burned down that summer season and the island went into foreclosures in 1888.

The subsequent essential section of Charles Island’s historical past began in 1927 when the Dominican Fathers from St. Mary’s parish on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven introduced they might construct a layman’s retreat heart on Charles Island. In the course of the subsequent two summers staff cleared the land and constructed a small advanced of wooden body constructions. A chapel, eating and
recreation corridor, about fourteen cabins (every baptized with a unique saint’s identify), a grotto, strolling paths, and Stations of the Cross have been constructed and finally accommodated as much as fifty retreatants. It was a tranquil and easy sanctuary with few facilities. The power held its first retreat on the weekend of July 4th, 1929. Two years after opening, a number of additions have been made to the retreat. The wood chapel that was initially on the grounds was changed with a stone chapel constructed close to the identical spot and a statue of St. Christopher was erected on a rock pedestal in reminiscence of six staff who had drowned returning to the mainland in a small boat in 1929. The Dominican fathers additionally added a dormitory constructing, a bell tower constructed of stone gathered from the shore, and a statue of Our Woman mounted on a rock pedestal fronted by a stone altar. For unknown causes the Aquinas Retreat closed and the little island once more went up on the market in 1938.

Bell Tower - Charles Island

Bell Tower – Charles Island

There are a number of structural remnants seen on the island together with a portion of the bell tower and a part of the stone chapel’s basis, although it’s eroding into Lengthy Island Sound. Storms have taken their toll through the years and the proof of human exercise on the island is steadily mixing into the sand.

Bell Tower ruins - Charles Island

Bell Tower ruins – Charles Island

At the moment, Charles Island is owned by The State of Connecticut and is a part of Silver Sands State Park. It was designated a Pure Space Protect in 1999 and is the location of a giant Heron and Egret rookery. 

In keeping with legend, notorious pirate Captain Kidd buried his treasure on the island within the late seventeenth century. Whereas there isn’t any proof that that is true, it has actually added to the island’s attract through the years. Some say the island is cursed.


Trails Overview:

Over 3 miles of strolling trails, boardwalk, and bridges await to deliver you thru the park’s vary of terrain, from wetlands, seashore, coastal forest, to the tombolo linking the park to Charles Island.

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

The Charles Island Path is roughly a 2-mile lollipop loop throughout the tombolo and across the island, not together with the paths on the inside of the island. This lollipop path follows the land bridge to Charles Island, loops round its perimeter, then doubles again to the mainland.

Charles Island - Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park

The inside of the island is an avian sanctuary and off limits to human guests, however you may be capable to catch a glimpse of the ruins from the previous resort and non secular retreat that have been as soon as situated there. The world across the island is extraordinarily rocky and a pair of excellent waterproof mountain climbing boots is really useful.


Hike Overview:

Timing is all the pieces with this hike. Remember to examine the tides earlier than heading out, they rise quick – as a lot as ten ft in lower than two hours. And the way in which the waves crash and roll over the spit of sand creates a harmful undertow, perilous for even the strongest swimmer. A number of folks have drowned strolling on the sandbar to the island. They drowned after misjudging the tides.

I visited this park in March of 2020, however the low tide was a lot too early or later within the day, so I simply admired Charles Island from shore. Since this park fees an admission payment starting April 1st for out of state guests, I checked the tide charts and obtained fortunate. I checked a number of completely different web sites for the tides, because the occasions differ barely. Choose a day with the bottom amplitude quantity. A adverse quantity is finest, particularly if you happen to plan on strolling across the island. Beneath are some useful ideas for staying protected if you happen to select to go to the island.

Charles Island safety tips

Charles Island security ideas

The tombolo (regionally known as a sandbar), doesn’t at all times materialize, even on the lowest tide. On the day of our go to, the amplitude quantity was simply above zero and the walkway didn’t emerge utterly. It isn’t really useful to stroll on the tombolo whether it is submerged, resulting from sturdy currents and undertow. 

Since we had been to this park beforehand and walked the paths and boardwalks alongside the seashore, this hike was simply to Charles Island and again, with somewhat wandering thrown in. 

That is a straightforward hike, however the island itself is rocky alongside its perimeter and I’d counsel good waterproof mountain climbing boots and a mountain climbing stick to forestall tripping and/or slipping. There may be virtually no elevation achieve on this hike.

Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island – Silver Sands State Park


The Hike:

From the car parking zone, head out in the direction of the boardwalk that spans the tidal marsh and results in the seashore. 

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park

Silver Sands State Park boardwalk

Silver Sands State Park boardwalk

tidal marsh - Silver Sands State Park

tidal marsh – Silver Sands State Park

boardwalk - Silver Sands State Park

boardwalk – Silver Sands State Park

It’s paramount that you just examine the net tide charts earlier than you try to stroll out to Charles Island. A number of folks have drowned strolling on the sandbar to the island. They drowned after misjudging the tides. Don’t let this occur to you or somebody .

Danger sign - Silver Sands State Park

Hazard signal – Silver Sands State Park

Guarantee that the tombolo (sandbar) is uncovered. Since we arrived at Silver Sands State Park simply earlier than 9:30am on a Saturday morning, I used to be stunned to see a protracted part of the tombolo already uncovered. Low Tide was scheduled for 11:12am, however it’s endorsed to start strolling the sandbar because it seems, providing you with sufficient time to stroll across the island and again earlier than the tide rises and covers the tombolo.

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

We started strolling out on the tombolo, however stopped the place it was nonetheless underwater. We waited patiently because the tide receded and the trail materialized. We walked somewhat farther and stopped every time the place the water nonetheless lined the sandbar. Since I had waterproof boots, I walked by a pair inches of water to the following uncovered part whereas others waited. 

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

A glance again at folks ready for the tombolo to look.

Looking back at the submerged tombolo

Trying again on the submerged tombolo

I continued forward, rigorously navigating throughout uncovered sections of the tombolo.

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

As you get near the island, there’s a low level within the tombolo. This part on some days, by no means totally emerges. It didn’t on the day I used to be there, however the water was only some inches deep so I made a decision to stroll by it. I wouldn’t suggest anybody else to do it. It isn’t protected. 

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

Charles Island with submerged tombolo

After trudging by the water for about 100 yards or so, the part of the tombolo which is closest to the island was seen and I made my manner onto the island.

Charles Island tombolo

Charles Island tombolo

American Oystercatcher - Charles Island

American Oystercatcher – Charles Island

Earlier than changing into a nesting space for Egrets and Herons, Charles Island was dwelling to a resort within the 1850’s and 1860’s. It was within the 1930’s when the island was briefly used as a non secular retreat.

Charles Island

Charles Island

I knew that I wouldn’t have an excessive amount of time to circle the island so I hurriedly did a counterclockwise loop round its rocky shoreline.

Charles Island

Charles Island

Charles Island

Charles Island

I noticed a path off to the left and wandered down it to discover. I noticed what appeared just like the stays of a bell tower that was left over from The Aquinas Retreat within the 1930’s. The world was overgrown and arduous to navigate by and this was as shut as I made a decision to get. I hoped to seek out one other route that was simpler, however I didn’t.

Bell Tower ruins - Charles Island

Bell Tower ruins – Charles Island

These stone ruins are proper by the trail that I took to get to the bell tower. 

ruins - Charles Island

ruins – Charles Island

There have been loads of geese on the island and so they have been making fairly a racket as I walked by. 

Charles Island

Charles Island

ruins - Charles Island

ruins – Charles Island

The views from the island are fairly good, however I didn’t have a lot time to get pleasure from them. As I made my manner across the entrance of the island (the beach-facing part), I checked the time and it was 11:12am. That meant that the tide would start rising and I needed to make my manner again to the mainland.

view northeast from Charles Island

view northeast from Charles Island

Charles Island

Charles Island

Charles Island

Charles Island

large nest in a tree - Charles Island

massive nest in a tree – Charles Island

Close to the entrance, not removed from the place the tombolo is, there’s a large path that travels to the inside of the island. There I noticed extra stone ruins. Though I made my option to the place the bell tower is, I couldn’t get a very good vantage level because of the pricker bushes. I attempted one other route, however with time operating out, I returned to the tombolo and started my return to the mainland.

ruins - Charles Island

ruins – Charles Island

Charles Island tombolo on the way back to the mainland.

Charles Island tombolo on the way in which again to the mainland.

Because the tombolo by no means totally appeared, the low level was extra submerged than once I walked out. I needed to stroll by about 6 inches of water for about 100 yards. The water was greater than my boots and my ft obtained soaked. I might really feel the present from each side, making for slightly unstable footing. I hurriedly splashed by till I made it to the nonetheless uncovered part.  

Charles Island tombolo on the way back to the mainland.

Charles Island tombolo on the way in which again to the mainland.

A glance again at Charles Island after strolling by the submerged part.

A look back after walking through the submerged tombolo.

A glance again after strolling by the submerged tombolo.

I used to be glad to make it again to the large uncovered part of the tombolo and continued again to the sandy seashore.

Charles Island tombolo on the way back to the mainland.

Charles Island tombolo on the way in which again to the mainland.


Evaluate: 

This was an exquisite journey that supplied a novel expertise. In spite of everything, what number of alternatives does one get to stroll out to an island? Totally gratifying but somewhat stressfull to not get caught on the island. Timing it excellent is essential. 

Professionals:

Charles Island, Lengthy Island Sound, sandy seashore, shore birds, scenic space, the tombolo.

Cons:

The tombolo by no means totally materialized, not sufficient time to discover the island.


Take a hike!

Charles Island tombolo - Silver Sands State Park

Charles Island tombolo – Silver Sands State Park


Sources: