Fort Trumbull State Park
Fort Trumbull State Park
New London, CT
Fort Trumbull lies atop a hill overlooking the New London Harbor as it opens into the ocean. The fort is built in “Egyptian Rival Style” and is the third fort to sit atop the hill. The first was built during the Revolutionary War and was named after Jonathon Trumbull; Connecticut’s “wartime governor.” In 1781 the fort, along with the rest of New London, was burned to the ground by Benedict Arnold and his British troops. The current Fort was built in the middle to late 19th century and is in incredible shape; showing few signs of it being over 170 years old. The current fort is part of the “Third System of American coastal defenses” and neighbors the Coast Guard.
When we entered the State Park we arrived at a large parking lot. From the lot we could see the magnificent Fort sitting atop the hill right across from our parking spot. The building rose above, its tan granite walls shining in the sunlight, an American flag flying to its left. Next to the parking lot was the Visitor’s Center containing handmade miniature replicas of lighthouses and a museum styles area regarding the Fort’s history. To enter the museum and fort one must pay for a ticket. Tours of the fort cost $6/12 years and older, $2/6-11 years, all under 6 years are free. There is NO fee for parking or to walk the grounds around the fort. I for one found exploring the park to be enjoyable and didn’t feel I missed out by not visiting the fort. The grounds consisted of paved walking/biking pathways, information signs to describe important locations, a fishing pier, and gorgeous views of the ocean and Long Island Sound.
When starting off on the walking/biking path we came across the South Battery containing two decommissioned Rodman canons. It provided a fun exploring experience and great opportunities for photographs. Past the canons lies an open field great for playing Frisbee, running with your dogs, or just relaxing for a picnic. The field provided a breathtaking view of the harbor. While visiting I sat atop the rock wall that separates the park from the water with my boyfriend. The breeze was wonderful, we watched seagulls fly around a small island a few hundred yards out, and enjoyed watching boats come in and out of the harbor. It was incredibly peaceful.
The path continued around the field and lead us to another building; The Magnetic Silencing Facility which is run by the U.S Navy. This facility was used to determine if ships were vulnerable to detection by magnetic mines and the Navy uses this site to make sure ships magnetic fields do not exceed set limits.
Next we walked down the fishing pier. It was evident that this pier is very popular with salt water fisherman and always has at least one fisherman on its docks. After reading the information boards I noticed that common fish/crustaceans caught here included blue crab, bluefish, striped bass, summer and winter flounder, and weakfish. Fishing rules and regulations can also be found posted by the pier. From the pier and the Fort grounds we could see the Gold Star Memorial Bridge as it stretched across the Thames River, glistening in the sun. While out on the pier I got beautiful shots of the water, the bridge, and even snuck in a portrait of my boyfriend and I.
After the pier we found public bathrooms and information boards. We could also see the Coast Guard boats behind fencing. Unfortunately, even though my curiosity begged me to explore, the Coast Guard areas are not open to the public but we could still see in through the fence. You get clear views of the parking areas, docks, and boats. Next to the bathrooms is a rock face that my adventurous boyfriend had to climb as I watched, urging him NOT to fall. Behind the restroom building were a few sets of stairs that lead us to the next location; the North Battery. This battery no longer contained any canons but we could clearly see the cement area where they would have sat. From here we looked down onto the Coast Guard boats and docking areas as I snapped more pictures. We continued walking and came upon a block shaped building rightfully named the Block House. This building is the oldest surviving building at Fort Trumbull. It was built in the late 18th century and was designed to be “bomb proof.” It was used for ammunition storage as well as a last line of defense. I was fascinated by the small barred windows and the rusty wooden door. The building definitely looked bomb proof with its thick, windowless walls.
Past the North Battery we came across the gift shop which is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday noon to 4pm. At this point we had walked all the way around Fort Trumbull and found the entrance to the Fort itself. Unfortunately, the employee collecting tickets informed us we would need at least an hour and a half to enjoy the fort and it wasn’t worth the money. We had gotten there too late and wouldn’t have been able to fully enjoy it. I greatly appreciated his honesty! At some point in the future I hope to return and go in the fort and update this post then! To finish our visit we returned to the rock wall and enjoyed the gorgeous sunset as it set off to our right. It was a very enjoyable day and I feel I learned a lot about Fort Trumbull (without even entering the fort!).
Fort Trumbull State Park is a gorgeous park and provides opportunities for walking, biking, dog walking, picnicking, photography opportunities, and educational opportunities to learn about its rich history. The park is enjoyable even if you do not enter the fort itself; I didn’t and I had a wonderful time. Never come without your camera because there is always something to photograph!
For more information please visit the following sites: