LOCAL POINTS OF INTEREST FOR VISITORS
ROCKY NECK STATE PARK, East Lyme
Located on Long Island Sound in the town of East Lyme, 710-acre Rocky Neck is a popular recreation spot. The public now enjoys use of the park because of a few farsighted conservationists who secured the land in 1931, using their personal funds until the State Legislature authorized its purchase.
Rocky Neck’s varied terrain offers something for everyone. Clear waters and the stone-free beach with expanses of white sand make it ideal for swimming. Picnickers find the large stone pavilion useful and unique. In the 1930’s, relief agencies constructed the curved masonry building of native materials and crafted supporting pillars with wood cut from each of the state parks and forests. Diverse trails within the park provide easy and interesting walks to the scenic salt marsh and to such points of interest as Baker’s Cave, Tony’s Nose and Shipyard. Family camping within walking distance of saltwater bathing is also popular at Rocky Neck with 160 wooded and open campsites offering weekenders and vacationers attractive overnight accommodations.
Bounded on the west by a tidal river and to the east by a broad salt marsh, Rocky Neck was known to both Indians and colonists as a place of abundant fish and wildlife. Today, high spring tides allow schools of alewives (herring) to swim into Bride Brook toward inland spawning grounds. The osprey, or fish hawk, is a frequent early summer visitor. In the fall, cranes, herons and mute swans wade among cattails and rose mallow. Seasonal changes provide opportunities to fish for mackerel, striped bass, blackfish and flounder.
The large stone pavilion, diverse trail systems, and gently sloping beach make this park ideal for families. Try crabbing or fishing. Look for hawks, cranes, and herons.
From the College parking lots, turn left onto Lyme Street. Take the first right to the entrance ramp to Interstate 95. Take exit 72 off I-95 an follow the turnpike connector south to Route 156. Turn left and take Route 156 east for 1/4 mile to the park. The park street address is 244 West Main Street (Route 156).
SOUND VIEW BEACH, Old Lyme
Try the people watching opportunities here at Sound View, a nice sunbathing beach spot with many beach cottages. There are a few nearby shops and eating opportunities within walking distance. You might want to arrive early to get available parking. Try walking the beach below mean high water in either direction. You are now within the “public trust” area, which belongs to all of us! Very small parking lot and restrictive street parking at this site. Nonresidents have access to Sound View beach, without charge, and are able to park in the Town’s parking lot or other private parking lots for a fee.
DIRECTIONS TO SOUND VIEW:
From the College parking lots, turn left onto Lyme Street. Take the first right to the entrance ramp to Interstate 95. Take I-95 to exit 71. Turn left onto Four Mile River Road, follow for 1.0 mile. Four Mile River Road becomes Route 156/Shore Road. Continue for 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Hartford Avenue. Parking lot is at the end on the right.
OTHER NEARBY STATE RECREATION AREAS
HAMMONASSET BEACH STATE PARK, Madison
A visit to Hammonasset Beach State Park is more than just another day at the beach. Connecticut’s largest shoreline park offers over 2 miles of beach to enjoy swimming, strolling along the boardwalk, or just relaxing in the sun and surf.
Hammonasset” means, “where we dig holes in the ground” and refers to the place where a settlement of eastern woodland Indians farmed along the Hammonasset River. They subsisted on corn, beans, and squash, and by fishing and hunting. The first colonists arrived in 1639. Property changed hands frequently between Native Americans and the first colonists. The stone breakwater at the Meigs Point end of the park was built in 1955. The stones were brought in by truck from quarries in northern New England. Today, over one million people come annually to enjoy Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Directions: From the College parking lots, turn left onto Lyme Street. At the traffic light, take a left onto Halls Road and proceed to the traffic light at the T-intersection. Take a left onto Route 156 and your first right to the entrance ramp to Interstate 95. Take exit 62 from I-95. Beach is one mile south of the highway (follow the signs).
Activities: Camping, Nature Center programs, picnicking, saltwater swimming, and fishing
Charge: Daily, in season, campsite fee
HARKNESS MEMORIAL STATE PARK, Waterford
Directions: From the College parking lots, turn left onto Lyme Street. Take the first right to the entrance ramp to Interstate 95. Take I-95 to exit 75 toward US 1 in Waterford; slight right to US 1 north. Turn right at Avery Lane. Continue onto Route 213 North (Great Neck Road). End at 275 Great Neck Road.
Activities: Formal gardens, mansion tours, picnicking, saltwater fishing
Charge: Daily, in season
BLUFF POINTE STATE PARK AND RESERVE, Groton
Directions: From the College parking lots, turn left onto Lyme Street. Take the first right to the entrance ramp to Interstate 95. Take I-95 to exit 88. Turn left onto Route 117 South. Turn right at the end onto Route 1 South. Take a left at the first light onto Depot Road. Continue under railroad overpass to parking area. Park entrance is at the end of the road. Activities: Biking, hiking, saltwater fishing.
DEVIL’S HOPYARD STATE PARK, East Haddam
Directions: From the College parking lots, turn left onto Lyme Street. At the traffic light, take a left onto Halls Road and proceed to the traffic light at the T-intersection. Take a right onto Rout 156 and continue to the end. Take a right onto Route 82. Take the next left and follow the signs to Devil’s Hopyard.
Activities: Camping, hiking, picnicking, stream fishing
Charge: None for picnic area. Campsite fee.