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Connecticut State Parks

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USA Parks
Mystic Country Region
Rocky Neck State Park
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Rocky Neck State Park Rocky Neck State Park © Daniel Gaedeke
View off the pavilion.
Rocky Neck State Park Rocky Neck State Park © Daniel Gaedeke
Rocky Neck State Park © Cindy Maucione
Rocky Neck State Park © Cindy Maucione
Rocky Neck State Park Rocky Neck State Park © Daniel Gaedeke
A look out at the rock jetty.
Rocky Neck State Park © Cindy Maucione
Rocky Neck State Park © Cindy Maucione
Rocky Neck State Park The rocky neck © Vivekbrata Basu
Rocky Neck State Park © Cindy Maucione
Rocky Neck State Park © Cindy Maucione
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P.O. Box 676
Niantic, Connecticut   06357

Phone: 860-739-5471
Toll Free: 866-287-2757
Reservations: 860-739-1339
Email: park email button icon
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. Rocky Neck provides something for all members of the family.
Nature of the Area
An ideal setting for families, Rocky Neck State Park has a wide array of interesting geological features perfect for exploring. The best geology in the Park can be investigated along the water's edge near the beach, only a short walk from the parking lot. Likewise, the hiking trails in the Park have nice examples of glacial plucking and glacial boulders. Loose sediments at one time covered Connecticut's coastline, including Rocky Neck State Park. This layer of loose sediments protected the seaward flank of New England's bedrock from erosion. Eventually these sediments were washed away and the bedrock underneath was re-exposed. As a result, the topography along Connecticut's coast is more level than the topography inland, since the bedrock was not exposed as long to the effects of erosion.

In addition, glaciation had a huge impact on the way in which Rocky Neck State Park appears today. During the most recent advance of glaciation in New England, which took place approximately 24,000 years ago, there was a point where the climate became too warm for the advancing glacier. As the ice tried to flow south, the warm climate melted the glacier back. For approximately 5000 years, the glacier hovered over New England, advancing and melting. Containing large quantities of rock, sand, and clay, the glacier dumped these materials as the ice melted. Known as a terminal moraine, a large pile of rock, sand, and clay piled up at the edge of the glacier, marking the maximum advance of glaciation in the Northeast. Long Island, Fishers Island, Bluff Point, Napatree Point, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod all formed as a result of that terminal moraine.

Long Island and Fishers Island act as a natural breakwater, protecting the entire coastline of Connecticut. Both Long Island and Fishers Island can be seen on a clear day from the beach at Rocky Neck State Park.

A good place to start exploring Rocky Neck State Park's geology is the area surrounding the large stone pavilion that is located near the beach. Directly beneath the pavilion are large outcrops of granitic gneiss. Gneiss (pronounced "nice") is a high grade metamorphic rock subjected to intense heat and pressure during formation. Gneiss is easily identifiable by the segregation of light and dark minerals giving it a banded texture. Gneiss usually consists of mostly elongated and granular, as opposed to platy, minerals. The granitic gneiss exposed at Rocky Neck State Park is part of the Potter Hill Granite Gneiss dating back to the Proterozoic. This gray, coarse-grained gneiss is irregular in texture with patches and streaks of pink granite. Likewise, there are lenses of orange-pink microcline feldspar. Other minerals present in the Potter Hill Granite Gneiss include quartz, garnet, tourmaline, and biotite. Rock and mineral collecting is prohibited in State Parks.

History of the Area
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.
Connecticut has made state parks, forests, trails, historic sites and beaches more accessible to our residents so they can enjoy the many attractions and beauty they offer. Under the Passport to the Parks program, parking fees are now eliminated at Connecticut State Parks for those with Connecticut registered vehicles. You can view the CONNECTICUT PASSPORT TO THE PARKS web page to learn more.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
Rocky Neck Campground offers 160 sites in both open and wooded settings. The camping season begins in May and ends September 30.
Nearby Accommodations
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BBs / Inns
Located along the CT Shoreline midway between New York City and Boston, and only one hour from Hartford, with tons of local attractions both on the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River.
8.7 miles from park*
Rocky Neck State Park offers a large, sandy beach on Long Island Sound for swimming during the summer season. Lifeguards are typically on duty from 10 am to 6 pm daily, ensuring swimmer safety. The calm waters make it suitable for swimmers of all levels and ages. There's also a designated picnic area nearby where visitors can relax after swimming. Restroom facilities with showers are available close to the beach area for convenience.
Visitors can enjoy saltwater fishing off the jetty or beach, targeting species like striped bass and bluefish. Freshwater anglers may find trout in Bride Brook. Fishing licenses are required for those 16 years of age or older.

Rocky Neck State Park offers numerous picnic areas with tables. Grassy spots ideal for blankets are available too. Enjoy scenic views while dining outdoors; grills provided at designated sites. Pavilion rental is an option for larger groups seeking sheltered space.
When considering bicycling in the area, it's important to note that options may be limited. The park primarily caters to pedestrians and beachgoers.

There aren't designated bike paths within the grounds; cyclists often share roads with vehicles. Exercise caution when riding on these shared routes.

Bike riders should stay alert for traffic and follow all posted signs and regulations closely while enjoying their ride.

The main road through the park is a viable option but can get busy during peak times, so extra care is advised.

For those looking for trail rides, this might not be an ideal location as trails are mainly intended for hiking purposes only.

Always wear helmets and protective gear when cycling regardless of where you're biking or how short your trip may seem.
- White Trail: This is the longest trail in Rocky Neck State Park, spanning 2.4 miles. It offers a moderate hike with some steep sections and beautiful views of Bride Brook.

- Red Trail: A shorter route at just under one mile long, this easy-to-navigate path winds through dense forest areas before opening up to stunning coastal vistas.

- Green Circle Loop: At approximately half a mile long, it's perfect for beginners or those looking for an easier walk within nature's embrace; features include marshland scenery and bird-watching opportunities.

- Blue Blazed Baker Cave Trails: These trails lead hikers towards Tony's Nose - a rocky outcrop offering panoramic ocean views - as well as historic sites like Baker's Cave; total length around two miles.

- Yellow Triangle Route (Coastal Walk): Just over three-quarters of a mile in length, this scenic pathway follows along the park's coastline providing breathtaking sea panoramas throughout its course.

-Pink Square Pathway (Ell Pond Area): Approximately 1-mile-long looped track that circles Ell Pond featuring diverse flora and fauna native to Connecticut wetlands area

-Brown Diamond Track : An offshoot from the main white trail leading into deeper woodland regions allowing more adventurous explorers further immersion into untouched natural beauty; roughly about half-a-mile stretch

-Silver Crescent Way : Less than quarter-of-a-mile short spur branching off from red-trail which leads directly onto beachfront region ideal spot during summer months
Birding enthusiasts can explore diverse habitats, including salt marshes, forests, and beaches. Common sightings include ospreys and herons. Migratory birds like warblers frequent the area in spring and fall. The park's coastline attracts shorebirds such as sandpipers during migration seasons. Wooded areas provide opportunities to spot owls or woodpeckers year-round.

Things To Do in the Area
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Explore the Connecticut River aboard the R/V River Quest, an environmentally friendly 64', 60 passenger vessel docked at Eagle Landing State Park, Haddam, CT.
19 miles from park*

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
May 16 Wildlife is abundant by Christie Gilluly
park review stars; one to five I frequently ride my bike at Rocky Neck and this week I saw a Green Heron and a female duck with nine babies near the bridge and a female Red Fox walking across the road.
September 1 1st time was a charm! by Lyn
park review stars; one to five Walk to the Connecticut Sound. Exc beach low waves, life guards!! no additional fee to get in! Great bike paths, flat area. Park very clean. Park staff very nice. Bathrooms average clean.
October 10 Eat pie by aaaaa44
park review stars; one to five eat pie
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Nearby Hotels

Exit 72 off I-95: 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).

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Connecticut State Parks