Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge
Walk through deep green forests and discover vernal pools wriggling with spring life at Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge in Westport. With a wide network of trails through uplands and wetlands, this Westport Land Conservation Trust property provides a fascinating place for a forest exploration.
You can see a piece of Westport’s agricultural history in the old stone walls that crisscross the grounds of Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge. These walls divide the parcels where crops once grew and animals once grazed. Today, most of the land here has returned to upland forest and wooded wetlands that cover gently rolling hills.
Two trails depart from the parking area at Old Harbor: the yellow trail, which runs south for a short wooded loop, and the red trail, which leads to a more extensive trail network. Altogether, the trails make up a network just under two miles long. (Download trail map)
As it departs the parking area, the red trail traces old stone walls and crosses a short area of boardwalk over marshy lowlands. At the end of the boardwalk, the trail diverges. Head right to continue on the red trail through the woods, or turn left to take the blue trail, which will lead you onto private land and past an area of rich wetlands. (Please respect private property by staying on the trail at all times.) The red trail runs all the way through the property, ending at a trailhead on River Road. Another short path, the green trail, connects the blue trail with the red trail.
Habitats & Wildlife
Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge is home to a variety of forested wetland habitats. Freshwater wetlands can be found here year-round, with small streams running between the trees alongside moss-covered rocks. In the spring, Old Harbor is an excellent place to find vernal pools: small, shallow ponds in the woods that fill with water from melting snow and spring rains. Pause at the edge of a vernal pool to search for the eggs and tadpoles of frogs and salamanders near the water’s surface.
Butterflies are a common sight at Old Harbor, flitting between wildflowers in forest clearings. The woods around the wetlands are also a popular spot to look for birds, including owls, songbirds, and a variety of woodpeckers.
The Westport Land Conservation Trust is a nonprofit corporation that has worked since 1972 to acquire and preserve natural resources, farmland, and wildlife areas for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.