Rocky Neck

Location

East Lyme, CT

Anchor Site(s)

Rocky Neck State Park

About the Site

Rocky Neck is one of the most visited state parks in Connecticut, notable for its distinct geology and unusual diversity of recreational opportunities on the Sound. Visitors of all ages are drawn to activities from camping to scuba diving to nature walks, and interactive displays at the nature center provide context for the many outdoor activities interspersed among wildlife habitat. The 710 acres include a rare example of a coastal thicket, an area dense with shrubs and young trees in passage between being a meadow and forest. Architecture enthusiasts are sure to explore the historic stone Ellie Mitchell Pavilion, which was built in 1936 by the State Park and Forest Commission using native stones and timber from each of Connecticut’s state parks.

Ecological Importance
  • Bride Brook has one of the largest largest river herring runs in Connecticut. Restoration efforts in 2010 took down old culverts and replaced them with new ones, which greatly increased the number of herring that passed through the following year. 
  • The beach is bordered by a tidal river to the west and a salt marsh to the east.  
  • The marshlands are important to many bird species including osprey, herons, and swans. 
Recreational Opportunities
  • Hike through miles of serpentine trails enjoying shade from Rocky Neck’s oak-dominated coastal thicket.
  • Explore the beautiful, historic, and architecturally significant Ellie Mitchell Pavilion.
  • Visit the coastal education center to see tanks and terrariums with local species, or use computer programs with games and ecological programs.
  • Camp out in one of 160 open and wooded sites.
  • Indulge in a range of activities suitable for families or outdoor adventurers: saltwater fishing, picnicking, camping, scuba diving, swimming, hiking, field sports, cross-country skiing, camper nature program, interpretive program, mountain biking, roller-blading, and bird watching.
  • Go saltwater fishing on the jetty (open year-round) and you might catch blackfish, winter flounder, bluefish, or striped bass
Dive Deeper
  • State Parks: Rocky Neck
    Prepare for a visit to Rocky Neck by reading through this overview of the park’s geology and its historical background.
  • Bride Brook
    Engage with East Lyme’s history by learning the iconic story behind the name of Bride Brook, a stream that runs through Rocky Neck. Or learn about the restoration project completed in 2010 that brought this important alewife run back to health!
  • Read about the history of Rocky Neck State Park and how it came to be a state park in this article by Connecticut History. 
Places to Visit
  • Check out the Thomas Lee House, built in 1660 and still using its original wooden frame, which is located in East Lyme.  
  • The Nehantic State Forest has several hiking trails, as well as picnic grounds, making it perfect for bird watching and viewing wildlife. 
  • Head to nearby Sound View Beach in Old Lyme for more opportunities to swim and picnic on the beach. 
  • Check out the coastal access guide before planning your visit for parking and directions.
Get Involved/Events
  • Check the Connecticut Coastal Access Guide for an overview of Rocky Neck State Park, available activities and facilities, and directions.
  • The CT DEEP website on Rocky Neck State Park provides camping information, an overview of the park, trail information, and links to various regulations. At the park, try going crabbing or using the saltmarsh viewing platform.
  • Keep an eye on the East Lyme Public Library website’s events tab so you don’t miss any lectures or book talks, including the monthly Books and Boots literary hiking trip at different local trails each summer. 
Field Notes
  • Camping reservations are required during the summer.
  • Be sure to check CT DEEP’s regulations on shore fishing in coastal state parks.
Credits
  • Bride’s Brook Restoration Overview.  Fws.gov/northeast/coastal/pdf/SavetheSoundfactsheet.pdf. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Web. July 7, 2021. 
  • Leary, Joseph. A Shared Landscape: A Guide and History of Connecticut’s State Parks & Forests. Hartford, CT: Friends of Connecticut State Parks, 2004. Print.
  • Rocky Neck State Park. Rocky Neck State Park. StateParks.com. Web. Oct. 15, 2012. <http://www.stateparks.com/rocky_neck_state_park_in_connecticut.html>.
  • Rocky Neck State Park. DEP: State Parks. CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Web. Oct. 15, 2012. <http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325256>.

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