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Hiking in East Lyme, CT – Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve

Oswegatchie Hills – never heard of it? Don’t worry, neither have most people in Connecticut. Most people don’t even know that you can find great hiking in East Lyme, CT!

It’s a hidden gem of the Connecticut coast, tucked neatly away near the beach town of Niantic, in East Lyme, CT.

It’s a beautiful nature preserve, where you’ll find some amazing hiking and spectacular views.

This is one of my favorite places to hike and I’m going to give you some information about this park that will help guide you on your visit.

image of Oswegatchie Hill Nature Preserve sign.

What to expect at the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve in East Lyme

This beautiful nature preserve is a local treasure – and for good reason. This place is absolutely amazing.

At Oswegatchie Nature Preserve, you’ll park near a small ball field, where you’ll see some public restrooms and maps of the hiking trails.

The nature preserve is home to a variety of plant life and wild animals and has some beautiful views for you to take in on your hike.

Imahe of hiking trails at east lyme ct in Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve.

Hiking in East Lyme, CT at Oswegatchie Hills

The hiking is great at Oswegatchie in East Lyme, CT. It may be more challenging than you expect for a small park, in fact.

We’ll go over each trail a bit to help you understand what to expect. There are several points of interest on each trail you should keep an eye out for.

  • Smith Cove Overlook
  • Rocky Ledge Overlook
  • Quartz Pit (my kids love this!)
  • Granite Quarry
  • Mt. Tabor
Image of quartz pit sign at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve.

Red Trail

The Red Trail at Oswegatchie is a fairly short loop that begins and ends at the ball field.

There are some steep and rocky areas on the trail where young children might require some assistance, but overall it’s an easy-moderate hike.

The Red Trail takes you across a large, flat rock formation that many hikers choose to stop at for a picnic. (It’s really pretty amazing!)

Image of Rocky Ledge Overlook at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve a place for hiking in East Lyme, CT.

Blue Trail

The Blue Trail is a bit more tedious and is considerably longer than the Red Trail.

The first part of this trail takes you across a small bridge, which gives you quite a picturesque view of Clark Pond.

The first part of the trail, before you get to the overhead view of Clark Pond, is fairly easy to hike.

Image of mushrooms growing from a tree at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve in East Lyme ct.

Many hikers who aren’t able or interested in hiking long distances will stop here to take in the views, then turn back.

If you take the fork to the right when the trail splits and continue along the outer portion of the Blue Trail, you’re in for quite a hike.

You’ll eventually connect with the Red Trail and enjoy the Rocky Cove Overlook, then continue back to the parking lot.

Image of Rocky Ledge Overlook at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve.

The Yellow and Green Trails are deviations from the two main trails and lead back to the main trails or to various entry/exit points to the park.

Locals sometimes use these trails to enter Oswegatchie instead of the entry points at the main parking lot near the ball field.

Image of hiking in East Lyme trail at Oswegatchie Hill Nature Preserve.

My favorite hike at Oswegatchie is to start at the ball field and take the inner portion of the Blue Trail around Clark Pond, then hop onto the outer half of the Red Trail.

This totals about 2 miles, with a stop off at the Rocky Ledge Overlook for a short break.

This hike takes roughly 3 hours (with young kids) including the rest at the overlook.

Image of moss on rocks with leaves at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve.

Other Oswegatchie Hills information

Are dogs allowed?

Yes, dogs are welcome at Oswegatchie, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.

Is fishing allowed?

Hikers are asked to stay on the marked trails at all times at Oswegatchie. No camping or fishing is allowed.

Directions and hours

Oswegatchie Nature Preserve is located just off Route 161, just outside of Niantic.

Hikers are welcome here from sunup to sundown.

Image of Clark Pond at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve.

Other considerations

Ticks are out in full force much of the year in Connecticut and East Lyme is famous for these dangerous little creatures.

Hikers should take precautions such as tucking pant legs into boots and wearing long sleeves.

Tick repellent is recommended for all activities in the woods in CT and you should always check yourself and your dog for ticks after hiking.

Image of rock cave at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve.

If you enjoy this nature preserve, the only place for hiking in East Lyme, CT, please consider a donation to the folks who maintain it.

Have you been hiking at East Lyme’s Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve?

We’d love to hear how you liked it!

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