Day Pond State Park is a state park in the town of Easton, Connecticut. The park’s 1,000 acres (400ha) include forested woodlands and wetlands that offer opportunities for hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and seasonal horse-riding stables. It is managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The park has four marked bridle paths and offers a stable for renting horses. Two ponds, Day and Ruggles, each cover approximately 200 acres (81ha). They provide excellent habitat for bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, catfish, sunfish, and northern pike. Fishermen can also access information via Fishfinder, an online fish monitoring system.
The park hosts many events, including the annual International Dragon Boat Festival, World Orienteering Championships, and US Intercollegiate Championships. The festival takes place every Mother’s day weekend and includes races for both men and women. The course covers nearly all of the park grounds, stretching north along the east side of Ruggles’ Pond to Woodland Beach, then crossing under Route 54 to the open waters of Long Island Sound. The championships take place in even-numbered years. Day Pond is noted for having large quantities of chain mail mussels, a type of bivalve mollusc native to eastern coastal areas. These shells are commonly found adrift at the surface or buried in sand dunes. Eastern gray squirrels live in some of the older growth forests. American black bears and bobcats inhabit the remote mountain regions. White pelicans lived alongside black ones on the beach in former times, but now they are extremely rare.
In the 19th century, Day Pond was used as a source of power for mills on Mill Street. Later it became an area of public recreation when steamboat rides were offered on its pond. A millpond with a 60 foot water wheel stood at the site until 1876 when fire destroyed the mill. At least two dams were built over the pond to generate hydroelectric power but they failed after only three years. By 1890, the state had purchased most of the land surrounding the pond including much of what would become Day Pond State Park.
Land use records show that there were once again attempts to harness the power of the pond between 1912 and 1914. Records indicate that steamboats continued to be operated on the pond through the 1920s. There are no known photographs or illustrations of these boats except for one black and white picture which shows a very small boat moored near a pier. This may have been the “Champlain” which ran regular service from New York to Stony Brook during summer months. However little else is known about this vessel. The last record of the steamboat being run dates back to 1923. After electricity became available, the steamboat era came to an end.
Activities at Day Pond State Park include:
- cross-country skiing
- equestrian trails
- seasonal hunting
Animals that live in the wetland habitats include:
- river otters
- muskrat ducks
Other mammals observed at the park include:
- cottontail rabbits
- striped skunks
Birds of prey seen at the park included:
- bald eagles
Plants that grow in the park include:
- wild grapes
The shoreline provides a habitat for salt marsh plants such as:
- sea oats
- saw palmetto
- wax myrtle
- and sweet shrubs like dogwood
- witch hazel