As we approach summer, many of the once tranquil places that we visit in the off-season become filled with tourists and are busy once again.
Most of the state beaches, parks and forests start charging admissions, at least on the weekends, forcing us to open our wallets.
Lately, I discovered a hidden quiet park at the end of a dead end road in Old Lyme. It’s ironic to write about a quiet park as drawing attention to it might cause it too to be filled with visitors. But, even if that happens, they are enjoying a park that’s free of charge year-round.
The Ferry Point State Park, also the home of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Marine District Headquarters , is at the end of Ferry Road. The area is also known as the Old Lyme Ferry Road Launch Site and Dock. It’s open from sunrise to sunset and is handicap accessible.
There is plenty of parking for visitors beyond the main building. Seasonal restrooms are also available.
One of the first aspects of the park a visitor will notice is the beautiful gazebo which provides shade and has a picnic table inside.
There are other picnic tables and benches throughout the park. The park has a number of signs educating guests of animals they may see and history of the river.
Unique Pier Boardwalk
One of the most unique portions of Ferry Point is the long wooden boardwalk that doubles as a fishing pier over the Connecticut River. The boardwalk meanders underneath an Amtrak railroad bridge, turns and goes out into a marsh.
During my recent visit here on an early Thursday afternoon, many fishermen were fishing off the boardwalk and several trains crossed the river in a very short period of time.
For the best chance to watch trains cross the bridge, “Off the Beaten Path Connecticut” recommends visiting either between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
At the end of the boardwalk, there are stairs to an elevated observation deck which is about eight feet above the boardwalk.
According to Soundblogger , on a clear day visitors can see Great Island and the two Old Saybrook lighthouses.
There is an additional wooden boardwalk pathway that runs from the concrete fishing platform alongside the Connecticut River. The pathway goes past the Marine Division Building and a boat yard. There are excellent views of the Baldwin Bridge that carries Interstate 95 and Route 1 over the river.
According to the Connecticut Coastal Access Guide car-top boats can be launched at the park. There is a floating dock and a small area for unsupervised wading.
Fishermen can enjoy catching fish over the simple 32-inch high railing over the boardwalk . Balusters are spaced further apart so that folks in wheelchairs and children can easily fish. Gaps between sections enable anglers to bring fish through, rather than over, the railing. The pier boardwalk additionally features rod holders for fishing poles and a fishing line collection bin.
The park is located at 333 Ferry Road in Old Lyme. From the east: take I-95 to exit 70, at the light go straight on Halls Road, at the second light go left on Route 156, then go ½ mile and turn right on Ferry Road to the end. From the west: take I-95 over the Connecticut River, take your first exit (exit 70), and turn right on Route 156, go ½ mile and turn right on Ferry Road to the end.