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Griswold Point Preserve

Why You Should Visit
At the mouth of the 410-mile Connecticut River, this wind-swept barrier beach affords a unique perspective on the river’s estuary and Long Island Sound.

Old Lyme

25 acres, including upland areas.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
This important area was protected beginning in 1974 in a series of bargain sales involving four landowners, one of whom, Dr. Matthew Griswold of Old Lyme, donated his interest in the land to the Conservancy. In addition to being an exemplary barrier beach, Griswold Point is nesting habitat for the federally threatened piping plover and the least tern, which is threatened in Connecticut.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Conservancy staff and volunteers monitor the populations of least terns and piping plovers at this and two other beaches in Connecticut in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Dawn to dusk

Breached by a winter storm in 1993, this mile long sandspit can only be completely explored at low tide. Visitors are asked to respect the signs and fences and keep their dogs leashed.

What to See: Plants
Sea rocket among the driftwood on the upper beach, with purple flowers from July through September, thereafter developing a distinctive double-seed pod. By the dune’s edge, look for beach pea, which joins the beach grass in stabilizing the dunes.

What to See: Animals
Piping plovers and least terns nest here in the summer; a wide variety of wading birds and other waterfowl visible year round.  Their nesting areas are clearly marked during nesting season — please do not enter them.  Nesting osprey visible in spring and summer on various platforms around Griswold Point and nearby Great Island.

Please enjoy your visit to this preserve.  The Nature Conservancy welcomes passive recreation, including hiking, birding, canoeing, nature study and cross-country skiing.  

To ensure those who visit after you are able to enjoy the same experience you have, please remember to stay on designated trails, pack out everything you brought in, and contact our office at: 203-568-6270 or if you notice any problems.  

To maintain the ecological integrity of the preserve, the following activities are not allowed:  collection of plant or animal specimens, camping, fires, fishing, hunting, bicycling, and use of motorized vehicles.  Pets are not allowed on Nature Conservancy preserves.


Summertime access is by boat only:

  • Take Interstate 95 to Exit 70. 
  • If northbound, turn right on Route 156 and go south for two miles. If southbound, turn left on Lyme Street and go 1.5 miles through Old Lyme, then turn left on Route 156 and continue for 0.3 mile. 
  • Turn right on Smith's Neck Road and follow it to the state boat launch at the end of the road.

Griswold Point can be reached on foot between Labor Day and Memorial Day:

  • Continue past Smith's Neck Road to Old Shore Road 1.5 miles on your right, immediately after you cross the bridge over the Black Hall River. 
  • Follow Old Shore Road to White Sands Beach Road at the right less than a quarter mile from Route 156. 
  • Drive all the way to the end of White Sands Beach Road and park. 
  • Walk west (to your right) along the beach for about a half mile. You will see a sign welcoming you to Griswold Point.  Please stay on the beach to avoid walking on private property


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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