Looking for a park that has a little bit of everything? Take a trip to Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic, CT! Nature watchers, beach bums, fishers, campers, and hikers alike love this coastal park. The best part is, it’s open year-round!
Growing up in Salem, East Lyme was a popular spot to go to enjoy the Connecticut shoreline. Rocky Neck State Park was a favorite spot for us to visit because it had the beach, wetlands, and hiking trails. It’s really a beautiful spot! I also had cross country meets here when I was in middle school!
Getting To Rocky Neck State Park
Rocky Neck is conveniently located just off of I-95 in Niantic, CT. Take exit 72 on to the Rocky Neck Connector. At the end of the Rocky Neck connector, you’ll take a left on to Route 156. The park entrance will be on your right after about a quarter mile.
If you’re from out of state, you’ll have to pay to get into the park between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If you’re from Connecticut, you don’t have to pay! Once you get past the spot where you pay, you’ll go left to get to the parking lot.
Continue all the way down the road and be sure to keep right when the road splits. At this point, it becomes a one-way. Shortly after this, you’ll come to the large gravel parking lot. Thankfully there’s plenty of parking!
Don’t worry about which side of the lot you park on. There are entrances to the beach on both sides of the lot. The furthest end is by the building with the bathrooms and the concession stand. The side closest to you when you first enter the lot is the entrance where you can enter the far side of the beach, there is a wooden bridge you can take under the train bridge on to the beach.
Rocky Neck State Beach
Rocky Neck is most well-known for its beautiful beach. The nice thing about this beach is it’s a public beach, so anyone can use it. This waterfront park is very popular in Connecticut, so it’s best to get to the park early in the morning to get a spot on the beach.
The beautiful white sand beach is a great spot to go swimming in Long Island Sound. There is also a boardwalk at the top of the beach which makes carrying or wheeling your beach items down to the far end of the beach much easier!
Most people set up near the bathrooms and concession stands. So, if you’re looking for a bit more peace, it’s best to go to the end of the beach where it’s less crowded! The walk down the beach will be worth it!
Rocky Neck Hiking Trails
While many people think beach when they think of this state park, it’s also a great place for hiking! This state park offers diverse trails with various terrains and views. From trails that take you through wooded settings to trails that take you to water views, there’s something that’s to everyone’s liking.
The most popular trail to do is a 2.5 mile loop called the Rocky Neck State Park Trail. Some things you can expect to see on this main loop are the beautiful wooded areas, broad salt marsh, rocks, streams, and of course, wildlife! Many people come here to see birds such as Blue Herons, Egrets, and Ospreys!
Saltwater Fishing At Rocky Neck
Another popular thing to do at Rocky Neck is saltwater fishing! Fishing is allowed on the jetty to the right of the beach year-round. In the off-season, fishing is allowed on the entire beach.
Wondering what kind of fish you might catch while fishing here? You can expect to catch blackfish, winter flounder, bluefish, and striped bass off of the jetty. You can also go crabbing in designated areas at the park.
Rocky Neck State Park Campground
Another feature of this park is the campground! Camping season begins in May and ends in September 3rd. Whether you’re looking for a cabin, a spot to park your RV, or a spot to camp out in a tent, this campground has something for you!
Campsites are available at Rocky Neck State Park campground until 9pm. The receipt you get when you reserve a spot will serve as your pass to the campground. If you don’t have this, you cannot get into the campground. Each pass allows for two vehicles.
Amenities you can expect to find at this campground are bathrooms, showers with hot water, taps for drinking water, and fire pits at each campsite.
One thing to note is that pets are not allowed in the campground.
Another feature of this park is The Pavilion. The Pavilion is a curved masonry building that sits elevated in the park. The second floor of the Pavilion is available for receptions, private parties, seminars and conferences. The capacity is 300 people.
You don’t have to rent this large stone pavilion to enjoy it. You can walk right up to the building to admire its beauty. Additionally, you get great views of Long Island Sound from the bluff where the pavilion sits.
I’m often asked about this state park so I wanted to go over some of the most common questions.
Rocky Neck beach is a public beach, so it’s free to get in for residents of Connecticut. The cost for out-of-state residents varies by day and time. Check out the official website for the latest prices.
Yes, you can go swimming at Rocky Neck State Park. The park has a beach on Long Island Sound that is popular in summer.
The current park hours are 8am to sunset daily.
In addition to the beach, there are picnic areas, trails, salt marsh viewing platforms, a campground, concessions, and plenty of parking.
Reasons To Visit Rocky Neck State Park
This beautiful New England park truly has something for everyone in the family. Rocky Neck’s varied terrain offers various outdoor activities to do and as well as some great views. Be sure to check out this coastal state park in East Lyme!
Be sure to check out Other Connecticut State Parks nearby!