Selden Neck State Park
Connecticut State Park
607 acres in Lyme, CT
Parking: Accessible by water only, see boat launch options below
Accessible by boat only Selden Neck serves mainly as a primitive camping spot on the Connecticut River that can accommodate up to 46 campers. Several trails were cleared here in the 70s and have remained in ok condition over the years. In late 2018 I took off from the Hadlyme Ferry below Gillette’s Castle to start my exploration of Selden Neck.
I paddled the mile down to the northern point of the island at Cedars Camp. It was late afternoon and all I had was the eight year old hand drawn map above. I expected the trails to be overgrown or just impassable and it turned into a mini-adventure that involved discovery, bushwhacking, and racing to beat sundown back up river. To access the park, use one of these launch points:
The easiest access to trails is from Cedars Camp at the north end of the island. The white Paul Roberston trail is tucked amidst the growth at the south end of the beach. On my first trip I missed the trail to the left and instead followed a short trail leading to the Selden Swing, an actual swing with a nice river view. Not knowing any better, I proceeded to bushwack cross-island hoping to run into the white trail. Learn from my error there is a semi-obvious start to the White trail just to the left of the one that leads to the swing.
Once I found the white trail I followed it heading south jumping fallen trees and pushing through overgrown brush. There were a few sections that have gotten lost in the overgrowth, but others before me took similar paths around them. There was one particularly nasty section that I think was once the railroad that ran from the quarry that is filled with thorny raspberry and invasive barberry. I eventually made it to the end of the white trail at Quarry Knob Camp.
It was nearing sunset, so I located the red trail and slowly made my way back up island. The red trail is not well marked but I was able to reconnect with the white trail and took it back to the beach passing a stone pillar memorial to the late Paul Roberston. I hope to get back soon to explore the quarries and farm roads further.
Camping: – Campsites can be reserved on Reserve America ($5 plus a $9 processing fee)
Cedars Camp – This camp has a long beach that is easy to access so many boaters stop here just to enjoy the beach. There is a fire pit, picnic tables, and a grill and every changing rope swings. I would call it more of a picnic area than a camp. At the southern end of the beach is access to the white Paul Roberston trail and a short trail to the Selden Neck swing. Maximum of 20 campers.
Hogback Camp – This camp is easy to access and sits on a low bluff named Hogback overlooking the river. At low tide it can be a muddy/silty walk to get to deep enough water for boats. The sloping site has a flat area with room for a couple tents and there are two picnic tables, a fire pit, and an outhouse. Short paths lead to overlooks facing southwest. Short of bushwhacking there is no access to the trails from this site. Maximum of 6 campers.
Spring Ledge Camp – I haven’t visited this site since it was occupied both times I paddled past. It seems to be a nice somewhat secluded spot that’s easy to access. Short of bushwhacking there is no access to the trails from this site. Maximum of 8 campers.
Quarry Knob – This site is the most difficult to access. There is a small break in the growth along the bank where as tree has fallen. Even at low tide it can be difficult to get secure footing and your boat up the bank over the log. Once up on the bank there are 2-3 flat areas with fire pits and a nearby outhouse. These sites have access to the blue and white trails by climbing the hill behind the sites. Maximum of 12 campers.
Hunting: (the DEEP provides the following guidelines)
The Selden Neck Campground is located near State lands that are also open to hunting hunting symbol. The season for goose opens immediately after Labor Day and archery season for deer opens in mid-September. Hunting is not permitted on Sunday. If you are camping when hunting is permitted, please note the following precautions:
- Wear bright clothing such as a fluorescent orange vest or hat. Avoid brown, tan, gray or white.
- If you see someone hunting, call out to them to identify your location.
- Let someone know where you are going, and when you will return.
Established as a state park in 1917. The main source on the history of the island is Dave Wordell’s “The Quarries of Selden Neck” a slideshow presentation dating back to the 1980s, that details murder, seeds from Egyptian tombs, and the ruins of the quarries. I made an inquiry to get a copy and should be able to get one soon. According to a recent archaeology textbook, a team excavated part of a site, “radiocarbon-dated to approximately 1,000 years ago, Selden Island was home to a Middle Woodland sedentary village.” A little bit of searching tells me that “Middle Woodland” is distinguished by materials not generally found in a given area, in this case, “a sizeable percentage of non-local stone.”
Cordell, Linda; Lightfoot, Kent, eds. (2008). Archaeology in America: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 61.
State Park Commission. Report of the State Park Commission to the Governor 1918. Hartford, Conn.: State of Connecticut. p. 18–19.
Geological Survey Bulletin, Issue 484 U.S. Department of the Interior; Washington, D.C., 1949