Looking for something to do near Mohegan Sun? Check out Fort Shantok Park in Uncasville, CT! This family-friendly park has something for everyone to enjoy!
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History of Fort Shantok Park
There is a lot of history attached to Fort Shantok. It was the sacred ground of Uncas, one of the most prominent and influential Mohegan Indian leaders and statesmen of his era.
The park land was the first site where the Mohegan people settled with Uncas. Because of this, Fort Shantok represents a location of distinction for the Mohegan Tribe.
In addition, Fort Shantok was used as a stronghold by the Mohegan leader Uncas when fending off an attack from the Narragansetts during 1645. Although the fort was sturdy and well-defended, the attack continued until an English force led by Lt. Thomas Leffingwell provided help. At this point, the Narragansetts abandoned the siege and returned home.
In 1930, the park was purchased by State Park and Forest commission and it became Fort Shantok State Park. In 1993, the land was declared a National Historic Landmark. After this, the area became known as the Fort Shantok Archeological District.
While my mother remembers this park as Fort Shantok State Park, it is no longer a Connecticut state park. This is because in 1994, the state returned the land to the Mohegan Tribe. The Mohegan Tribe was given the land back through a claims settlement act.
After the Mohegans reclaimed the land, they kept it open as a public local park for people to continue enjoying. They are now responsible for the upkeep of the park.
Fort Shantok is located just up the road from Mohegan Sun. If you’re coming from the Mohegan Sun resort and casino, you’ll take a left on to Route 32 towards Uncasville. Then at the light by the Jiffy Lube and the Fairfield Inn & Suites on to Fort Shantok Rd. In about mile, the park’s entrance will be on your left.
If you’re coming from the highway, you’ll take Route 2A. Most likely, you’ll be taking Interstate 395 to get to 2A. From 2A, you’ll take Exit 5 on to Route 32 and you’ll turn left towards Mohegan Sun. Coming from this way, you’ll take a left on to Fort Shantok Road. The entrance will still be on your left.
When you get there, there are various places to park. If you’re looking to go to the pond or walk down to the river, you’ll take the first left. There are a couple different spots to park.
If you want to walk the loop around the pond, park in the first spaces you see. If you’re looking to go to the river, park a bit further down that road by the dam.
Things to Do
There is a lot to do at the park. You can fish, hike, picnic, take in the views, and look for wildlife. It’s a beautiful place that’s great for photographers!
The Fort Shanktok Park Pond Trail
The pond is one of the main features of this beautiful park. There is a loop trail that goes around the pond so you can get views of the pond from all angles. The trail around the pond is a wide gravel path. It’s an easy walk to do with the family!
There are also two bridges you get to cross, the most prominent one being a beautiful wooden bridge. The other bridge isn’t quite as pretty, but one side of it gives you great views of the pond. On the other side, you get views of the waterfall of the pond’s dam.
Along the wooden bridge, you can expect to see a lot of wildlife. For this reason, it’s the first spot I take my sister when we arrive at the park.
Some of the wildlife you can expect to see are geese, ducks, song birds, dragon flies, and sun turtles! Sometimes, you can even see fish swimming around in the pond!
Thames River views
One of my favorite things about this park is the access it gives you to the Thames River. You get stunning views of the river and the Mohegan-Pequot Bridge. This has been one of my favorite photo spots for years!
First Path To River
There are two ways to get down to the river. The first way is to park just past the dam in a lot just up the hill. You’ll walk in the opposite direction of the way you came in. You’ll come to an open area on top of a hill where you get great views of the river from the top of a hill.
If you continue down the hill, you’ll find the path down to the river. You’ll cross a faded bridge that was once vibrantly painted with a turtle. Walk through the trees on this bridge to get to the river.
You’ll come out to a set of train tracks that go along the river. You can walk along the tracks. If you go left, you head towards Norwich. If you go right, you head towards Uncasville.
There are a couple of access points to the river along the tracks. It’s down hill with stone, so be careful on your way down. The loose rocks make the ground a bit unsteady!
Down at the river, people like to go fishing, enjoy the views, and my personal favorite, skip rocks. It’s a great spot off the beaten path to enjoy in the park! I always make sure I go down to the river when I visit Fort Shantok!
Second Path To River
The other way to get to the river is by taking the path by the picnic tables across from the parking lot from where the dam is. If you go to the left of the picnic tables, you’ll find a path that will take you to the bottom of the hill that the other path takes you to.
Another way to enjoy the park is to have a picnic! There are various picnic tables around the park to have a picnic with family and friends.
Whether you’re looking to picnic by the pond, or in the shade by a stream, there are plenty of great spots to enjoy a meal in nature!
Fort Shantok Park Playground
Another great feature of the park is the playground! When my sister was little, she loved going to this playground to play. It’s a great spot for family fun! There are also bathrooms near the playground, but they’re only open seasonally.
These are the questions often asked about the park. If you have a question not answered here, leave a comment below this post.
Fort Shantok Park is a historical landmark where you can enjoy nature with the whole family. It offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and bird watching. The park also has a playground and a picnic area.
Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed inside the park.
It’s completely free to get into the park!
If you have time to do more exploring in Southeastern Connecticut, you may want to check out these places too.
- Rocky Neck State Park is right on Long Island Sound with a sandy beach in Niantic, CT.
- Lantern Hill Trail Hike is only a 20 minute drive from Fort Shantok Park and will give you a great view of Foxwoods resort and casino
- Gardner Lake State Park in Salem, CT, is a great place to go swimming, fishing, and boating!