I once believed that the best view of
's beaches was from the rearview mirror on the way to Cape Cod. That's not meant to be an insult (my wife calls me a Cape Cod snob), I just enjoy pristine ocean beaches with only sand dunes in the background.
And then I visited Bluff Point State Park in
. Imagine a place that could easily be a trail through an inland forest with towering trees and swaths of ferns. Then imagine that place with the sweet smell of an ocean breeze carrying the sound of a distant foghorn. And then imagine reaching a break in the forest canopy and seeing
Ledge Light in the distance and
frolicking on the barrier beach.
Welcome to Bluff Point — a shockingly beautiful piece of Connecticut shoreline that I thought had all but disappeared long ago, a place that puts a little of Cape Cod in Connecticut. Welcome to Bluff Point, a location that put this snob in his place.
This is a place to fish, clam, hike, ride a horse, bike, canoe, kayak, walk, run, swim, float, wade, watch the sunrise and sunset, bird watch, propose marriage, take photographs, walk a dog, have a picnic, search for seashells and sea glass, read a book, explore the tidal areas around the granite breakwater … well, you get the picture.
Only a slight portion of the 800-acre peninsula is a state park. The remainder is a coastal reserve and natural preserve surrounded by Mumford Cove to the east, Fishers Island Sound to the south and the Poquonnock River to the west. The coastal reserve designation means the only way to get to the point is to walk or bike the 1.5 miles.
The main trail travels along a wide gravel path with a deep forest on one side and the Poquonnock River on the other with its views out to Long Island Sound. On the way to the point, visitors pass salt marshes and unmarked trails that travel through the forests or out to overlooks.
At the end of the trail, the mile-long Bushy Point barrier beach stands before you. On the right, the pebbly sandy beach stretches off into the horizon and is filled with seashells. On your left is Bluff Point, surrounded by a granite breakwater with sweeping views of the sounds and
. At one time more than 100 cottages lined the bluff. But when the hurricane of 1938 struck, the bluff was wiped clean and returned to the natural state visitors see today.
A return trail takes visitors past a huge glacial erratic boulder known as sunset rock — a place where the people who lived in the cottages had Sunday religious services. Nearby, a large foundation sits partially hidden by overgrowth — the former home of Gov.
Jr., the son of John Winthrop Sr., governor of the
Bay Colony. From here visitors can travel back through the woods or take another 1.5-mile hike along Mumford Cove and back to the parking area.
Now when I pass the exit for Bluff Point on my way to the Cape, I will smile and think about the time I visited a narrow spit of land that juts out into Fishers Island Sound, a place that changed my view of the Connecticut shoreline.
Exit 88 off I-95. Route 117 south to Route 1 south. Take a left at the first light on Depot Road and follow to the entrance to the park. Visit
a map of Bluff Point.
Questions or column suggestions are welcome. Peter Marteka may be reached by phone at 860-647-5365, by mail at The Courant, 200 Adams St.,
, CT 06040, by e-mail at
or by fax at 860-643-8548. Visit
more adventures in Connecticut's natural world.