Barn Island WMA

Posted By on March 19, 2016

Barn Island WMA

4.5 miles; Pawcatuck, CT

So after making a truly impressive blister out of a smallish blister by hiking almost 10 miles with it, I was pretty much sidelined for a week or so. I finally decided today to take a short hike to test the newly-healed skin. And even though I knew better, I still hiked this popular local dog spot on a Saturday afternoon. Unsurprisingly I was rushed by many unleashed dogs, and mobbed by two giant unleashed great danes. I hate [most] dog people… The regulations for this wildlife management area clearly state that (emphasis mine):

Dogs must be leashed at all times, except when being used by licensed hunters while hunting small game and waterfowl.

I passed at least 10 other hikers, or groups of hikers, with dogs. One had his dog on a leash. Two of the unleashed dogs were very well trained and minded their own business. The rest not so much. I got rushed at, jumped on, barked at, and mobbed. And I am most decidedly NOT a dog-lover. So fair warning if you decide to hike here.

Tranquil Salt Marsh

Tranquil Salt Marsh

Dogs aside, this was a lovely hike. Barn Island is a really beautiful spot, most of the year—the only exception being mosquito season, when it becomes a hellish dystopian nightmare full of blood-sucking monsters.

Strange Wreath

Strange Wreath

This odd wreath was lying by the side of the trail at the edge of the woods where the marshes begin. I was torn between thinking it was the beginnings of an osprey nest that maybe got blown out of its tree or some weird craft project that was begun and discarded. No clue as to the actual truth.



The usual way I hike this property includes about a mile of road-walking in the local neighborhood, where I found this encouraging sign of spring.

You can find info on Barn Island in the hikefinder.


8 Responses to “Barn Island WMA”

  1. Tina Mendeloff says:

    Barn Island also has LOTS of ticks. Be careful.

  2. William says:

    Must agree concerning dog owners. Especially the ones who laugh when explained about wildlife vs dogs and posted laws,who reply with”my dog doesn’t read”

    • auntie says:

      Right? Seems to me the fines the DEEP could levy at this one property over the course of a couple of weekends could fund a substantial portion of their operating budget. The regulations are perfectly clear.

  3. Beth says:

    Hi Auntie…I looked at your strange wreath….I am not convinced it was part of that nest. Too far away and too perfect! The one that blew down from the Continental Marsh would have been embedded in wire mesh. However it could have been something blown off the top of a flat platform. It just seems too perfectly round and well woven. It will remain a mystery!

  4. Juliana says:

    I found your article hoping to find some idea about what can possibly be done about all the unleashed dogs I encounter at Barn Island nearly every time that I go there.

    It’s such a beautiful spot, lots of great trails, but the unleashed dogs are starting to get to me! Earlier this morning I was rushed by a pair of unleashed dogs. One of the owners said “sorry” a few times, so I responded “you should use a leash” (thinking that if she was actually sorry, then she would want to do something about it!). I ran into them again on my way back down the trail and one of the dogs was leashed, so I first thanked her as I ran past and instead she was like, “are you happy now?? he’s on a leash, are you happy? I didn’t do it for you, but does it make you happy?” So incredibly rude. I thanked her again anyway. I don’t really care if she “did it for me” or not, dogs must be kept on leashes in state parks for both their own safety and the safety of other people, dogs, and the many animals that live there.

    I just wish that there was something I could actually do. I know suggesting to dog owners that a leash would be appropriate only results in them being mad at you and often they don’t do anything. It’s like it was somehow my fault that her dog was off leash and rushed me.

    • auntie says:

      hi, juliana, thanks for commenting, and i agree, the unleashed dog problem has gotten so bad at barn island that i don’t go there anymore. but i did manage to find an email address for the enforcement division of the connecticut deep, and here is their reply:

      Good evening,

      Thank you for your message.

      I sent your report of activity at Barn Island WMA to our district biologist and the ENCON Law Enforcement Division.

      I might recommend that the next time you go to Barn Island and observe loose dogs at the wildlife management area, to contact the DEEP Dispatcher at 860-424-3333.

      That is a 24 hour emergency number to assist with violations and any emergencies on state lands.

      As you are likely aware, DEEP does not have Conservation Officers stationed in every town, but the dispatcher can radio the officer on duty in the southeastern part of Connecticut.

      Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.

      Have a great holiday weekend.


      Lance D. Hansen
      Bureau of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division
      Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
      79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127
      P: 860.424.3011|F: 860.424.4070|E:

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