wandering around rocky neck

3.22.22 ~ Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme, Connecticut

There are still a few places to walk we haven’t visited yet so we decided to check another one off of our still-growing list. Rocky Neck State Park is a little farther west down the coastline than we usually like to go, but seeing pictures of birds taken there and posted online tempted me to give it a try. Sadly, no birds on this windy day. We had to walk through a tunnel (see above picture) under the Amtrak railroad to get to the beach.

This beach is one of the most visited beaches in Connecticut, with some of the buildings at the beach even dating back to the 1930s. This is one of the most popular beaches to visit for those in the area because of how scenic it is.
~ Roaming the USA website

The fact that it is so popular is probably another reason we never tried to come here before. Every summer weekend morning on the news we hear that the parking lot is full and no more cars are being allowed in. When traveling down the interstate we often see flashing LED changeable message signs, miles in advance, announcing the same thing.

We walked down the beach and up a ledge, following a sign saying “Pavilion.” The pavilion was huge! (Perhaps built in the 1930s?) We followed a tunnel through the bottom of it and took some stairs up the back, then came around to the front and took some pictures of Long Island Sound.

tunnel under the pavilion
pavilion balcony on top of ledge
Long Island Sound from the pavilion balcony

Behind the pavilion was a pedestrian bridge (above) back over the Amtrak railroad tracks. We decided to go for it, lured in by a point on a map of the park called Toby’s Nose Overlook. Eventually we found the spot but the viewing platform I was expecting did not exist. There was a complicated maze of trails, parking lots and driveways in the woods back there, but we finally figured out a zig-zaggy route we could take back to the car.

view of Four Mile River from Toby’s Nose Overlook
a glimpse of Long Island Sound through the woods
glacial erratic on top of a hill

When I got home and studied the map a little more closely I noticed that there was another part of the park, along Bride Brook, with a crabbing deck and an actual viewing platform. Maybe next time. Turns out we had only seen a very small portion of this place.

And now to prepare for a visit from our daughter and granddaughter! Kat has spring vacation so Larisa is going to work remotely here while we have Kat to ourselves for half the week. 😊 (Kat’s other grandparents will have her the first half of the week!)

3.26.22 ~ Look who are coming for a visit!!! (Larisa & Kat)

34 thoughts on “wandering around rocky neck”

  1. What a beautiful place to visit. Love the sun reflecting in the water. That pavilion was huge. Nothing like having a granddaughter around to enjoy for a few days.

    1. It was beautiful there and I’m looking forward to a return visit before the summer crowds return. The sun and water were sparkling that day. Can’t wait to hug my granddaughter!

  2. Barbara, what a joyfilled post – I had so much enjoyment following you and the photos. I miss a car to go to places like this around Oslo – there are so many. BUT I get a lot out of following you and Tim ♥

    1. Thank you, Leelah. It’s always wonderful to have you following us on our little outings. ♡ When I think of things I’m grateful for I often think about having a car available to explore all the open spaces we have around here.

  3. Love Rocky Neck. We would go there every summer as kids. I still go to walk my dogs just not often enough.

    1. You were lucky to grow up so close to the ocean, Julie! I grew up in northern Connecticut but my grandparents lived on Cape Cod so visiting them is how I fell in love with the seashore.

  4. Another walking adventure! I loved the old pavilion. I’m heading up to NC this week and looking forward to seeing a NC spring. Enjoy your loved ones this week!

    1. I hope with the good weather that our walking adventures will become more frequent! But this morning it is a freaky 27°. Enjoy your North Carolina springtime visit!

  5. Oh Barbara–how wonderful that you’ll be able to visit with your precious loved ones! I am excited for you. Btw, what a name: Toby’s Nose Overlook. How funny! Makes you wonder more about how that came about.

    1. Thank you, Kathy! We’re so excited! 🙂 The only thing I can think of is that the overlook sticks out into the river like a nose sticks out from a face. After all, we’re standing on a neck. (Rocky Neck) There must be a face somewhere on that neck… 🙃

  6. What a pretty place to visit — and yes, it does sound as if you need to return (perhaps on a warmer day?) to see what you missed the first go-round. How wonderful, having family coming for a visit — enjoy, as I know you will!

    1. We will have to wait patiently for a warmer day. This morning I woke up to 27°. We’re only supposed to get up to 33° today. Seems like a bit of a detour on our way into spring. But we will enjoy our visit, no matter the weather. 😊

  7. I love the first photo of the tunnel! I’m sure it felt very different, then how I perceive it in a moments photograph. It was quite interesting to see it without people or wildlife. It appears that the two of you had the scenic all to yourselves.

    The stone work tunnel underneath the pavilion is also beautiful! Incredible work!

    Thank you for sharing this walk and zig-zagging back to find your car. A place I would not be able to see without you.

    Awe…, it’s great to see your family on their way for a visit!!! Love her rabbit ear headphones, so cute!

    1. I enjoy walking through tunnels, especially when I can see the light on the other end. To see the ocean was icing on the cake. I’m happy you enjoyed our wanderings. Thank goodness we had printed out a map, so many trails crisscrossing to navigate. Those rabbit ear headphones have me thinking of decorating some eggs while they’re here…

    1. We will, Eliza! Knowing we would miss the ocean too much is one reason we haven’t followed our kids and moved down south. I hope you do get to the seashore this year. Do you have a favorite place?

          1. It’s our favorite, not a lot of parking, so it doesn’t get that crowded. However, one must get there early before the lot fills and closes!

          2. Parking lots filled to capacity in the summer seems to be the norm in recent years. Will have to check out Charlestown RI East one of these days. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Donna! We did have an awesome time and then it was over before we knew it. 🥰

  8. Beautiful photos of such a tranquil looking place. At least at this time of year. I like the tunnel under the pavilion shot. I want to see what’s on the other side. Enjoy your time with little cute stuff.

    1. Thank you, Ally. The other end of the tunnel came out in the pavilion’s “back yard” and to a fence separating it from the railroad tracks. I’m glad we went through the tunnel to find the stairs up to the balcony with the spectacular view.

  9. That does look like a beautiful beach to visit; I can see why it’s popular. The pavilion looks like a huge building to me! yay to a nice spring break visit. Enjoy your time!

    1. The pavilion was huge, Suz, the biggest one on a beach I’ve ever encountered. (But I’m not well-traveled so who knows?) Maybe if we go back in the summer we can see what it looks like inside.

  10. I can see why this place got such acclaim on the Roaming the USA website. Very peaceful and serene-looking water scenes. That’s nice how you framed the first picture by taking the shot through the tunnel Barbara – very creative. I especially liked all the stone found in the pavilion area and the tunnel under the pavilion. I would definitely have to go check out a venue named “Toby’s Nose Overlook” and explore it. How nice Larisa and Kat are here … I remember you told us they would be coming for a visit during Spring break. Enjoy!!

    1. It was fun walking through that tunnel and wondering what the beach would look like when we came out. I couldn’t believe how long that pavilion was, enough room for dozens of families to enjoy a picnic with a good view of the sound. It’s fun to explore and we did a lot of it that day. Larisa and Kat finally made it home after their flight got cancelled last weekend. They got caught up in that mess of cancelled flights but were lucky to find one on a different airline the next day, in the last row of seats on the plane. Couldn’t believe more than 10,000 flights were cancelled over the weekend when I saw it on the news.

      1. Yes, you captured everyone’s attention wondering what was on the other side of that tunnel. Now’s the time to explore and not have to worry about critters like snakes or ticks – assuming they are all in a dormant stage right now. I was thinking if the weather improves I’d like to look for the Spring Peepers which I never seem to find. They’re only around until the middle of the month. I’m glad to hear Larisa and Kat made it home safely after that mess. It seemed every time I heard the news last weekend and Monday there were more flights getting canceled. I’m sure the visit went by far too quickly!

        1. Funny I haven’t heard any spring peepers yet. I can’t remember when they usually start peeping here. I hope the flying nightmare won’t deter Larisa from visiting us again soon! Flying seemed faster than driving, like they did in December. Good luck finding your spring peepers this year. 🙂

          1. I went all over looking a few years ago but no luck – so maybe this time will work. I know you can’t miss their sound and go in that direction. I’m sure once Larisa and Kat were home they forgot about this flying nightmare. Nothing is normal anymore and it’s so disconcerting isn’t it?

          2. I looked it up, spring peepers can be heard in Connecticut between March and June so I will have to pay attention this year and take note of when they start peeping. I know I hear them every year as we have a creek bordering our condo complex. I think we do have to expect and get used to all kinds of disruptions in our daily lives, post-pandemic.

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