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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Barn Island - Stonington, Connecticut

Happy Tuesday!  Mondays 70+ degree weather has all of us New Englanders packing away the winter clothes and making summer plans.  With that nice weather comes all the planned hikes, bike rides and adventures.  Of course, all these adventures are much more fun with my not so trusty furry companion Olive.  This week, I am sharing some dog-friendly posts on some favorite places and spaces to spend time with your dog.  Today's post is a local favorite and at 2.5 miles down the road from where I live, it is an easy place to sneak away for an after work bike ride or trail run with Olive.

Main Trail at Barn Island

Barn Island is a 1,000+ acre preserve in Stonington, Connecticut.  Barn Island has been called the "Wild Coast of Connecticut" and t
he beauty of this preserve lies in its lack of development.   While there were once plans to make it a State Park in the 1960's, the area has remained a 1,013-acre wildlife management area, the largest coastal wildlife management area in the state.  The only truly developed areas in Barn Island is the boat launch and even that is a large boat launch with a parking area and seasonal port-o-potties that is very busy during hte summer months.  After you walk through the main entrance, past the kiosk, you will pass one small area with educational signage and ocean/marsh views.  After that, you are on your own.  The main trail is a wide path and is obvious, but none of the trails are marked.  Barn Island is more of your... primitive type of "park". 

Parking area/Kiosk at Barn Island 

Main Trail at Barn Island 

The lack of amenities means this place is always on the quiet side making it a perfect place to enjoy the beauty of Coastal Connecticut.  At Barn Island, you will find coastal forests, fields, some trails through the woods and along the marsh.  A tidal creek flows through the marsh. and the area is popular with bird watchers.   The most popular use of Barn Island is for hikers and dog walkers.  The area is open to mountain biking but bikers on the trail are far and few.  

Trail Map at Barn Island 


Bird and Wildlife, Crabbing, Fishing, Waterfowl and deer Hunting, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking (boat launch with seasonal bathrooms), cross country skiing.  More information about the birding on Barn Island.  

Hiking:  There is a main 3-mile loop hike with plenty of side trails throughout.  

Dogs:  Dogs are allowed at the preserve on-leash.  

Mountain Biking:  The map below details all of the trails in the park.  The main trail is in PINK with the smaller trails (including single track) in RED.  The main trail is an easy loop with rolling hills on double track.  The single track (including a section noted as "Jonny Smith") is a variety of technical woodsy trails throughout the preserve.  

Boating:  There is a decent sized boat launch for launching boats and kayaks.  This is also a good area for crabbing and parking.  More information on the launch can be found HERE.  This is a popular launch point for getting to Sandy Point. 

Parking:  There are parking spaces for a few cars at the entrance to main loop trail; there is also a large paved parking lot at the boat launch.

Location:  The end of Palmer Neck Road in Stonington, Connecticut.  Keep your eye out for the "castle" on your way to Barn Island

Important:  While this area is beautiful in the summer it is also very (very) buggy so let this be your warning.  Ticks are especially bad here in the warmer months of the year.  Also, note that deer hunting is allowed here and use extra caution (and wear orange!) during hunting season. 

Extended Trail Map Barn Island 

Main Trail at Barn Island 

Section of Single Track for Mountain Biking/Hiking 

Main Trail at Barn Island 

The "Castle" residence on Palmer Neck Road 

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