Nestled along the Long Island Sound in the town of East Lyme, the 710-acre Rocky Neck is a popular recreation spot for beach goers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. 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 clean crisp sand, with no rocks, make it great for families and swimming. Many beautiful picnic locations are scattered throughout the park. The historic stone Ellie Mitchell Pavilion dominates the park’s western shoreline. 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.