View from the Ridge

View from the Ridge
October fall colors frame a view of Sleeping Giant State Park, as seen from the South Overlook.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Welcome to the West Rock Trails website

West Rock Ridge State Park is located in Hamden and New Haven, Connecticut (with a small portion in Woodbridge and Bethany). West Rock Ridge is the second largest state park in Connecticut with 1,722 acres of land (and growing).* 
The 40th anniversary of the park was July 21, 2015, forty years the date the park was created by the Connecticut General Assembly. There are many recreational opportunities available at West Rock.

This website has pages arranged by topic. Click on the web page name below or the links at the right to access the page that interests you.

Park improvements in 2015 include a relocation of the Red Trail by Farm Brook Reservoir. See this page for details:
Another improvement that is mostly completed is the relocation/extension of the Purple Trail. See this page for details:

The state has announced a plan to blast a third tunnel under West Rock on the Wilbur Cross Parkway. Read my analysis of the options and why this is the least favorable option at

Trail Work Party, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, 8:45 to 11:00 a.m.
Meet at the parking lot at 610 Hill St., Hamden, 0.15 miles south of West Shepard St.

This work party will focus on cutting invasive plant species, including autumn olive shrubs, multi-flora rose shrubs, and bittersweet vines. These invasive plants line the field along the Red Trail, and crowd out native plants and trees. Native plants are important for many reasons, including providing food and shelter for native animals.
The Nov.-Dec. 2015 issue of Connecticut Wildlife magazine (published by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) had an article called “Whip-poor-will Inventory and Monitoring 2010-15 Summary”, written by Shannon Kearney-McGee, DEEP Wildlife Division. The article on page 15 talks about how the whip-poor-will bird is in severe decline in Connecticut due to various factors including development and invasive plant species. The article states, “Only one of the 11 locations (9%) that contained whip-poor-wills also contained invasive species, while 11 of 26 locations (42%) where whip-poor-wills were not detected contained invasive species. This is significant because invasive plants have been shown to produce fewer moths and butterflies than native plants. Moths and butterflies are an important food source for whip-poor-wills.”

I have some tools to share, but if you can any, feel free to bring the following:
• Pruning loppers
• Pruning saw

Be sure to bring a water bottle, as this is thirsty work.

If you plan to help out, but will come later than 9 a.m., follow these directions to find us:
Follow the Red-White Trail from the parking lot across the open field, thru the woods and over the bridge. Just before the next open field, turn left on the Red Trail. We will be somewhere in that area.

Directions: Rt. 15 to Exit 60 and head south on Rt. 10 to the first light. Right on Benham St. for 1 mile. Right on Paradise Ave. at the light, then quick right to stay on Paradise Ave. for 1.5 miles. Left on Hill St. at stop sign and go 1.2 miles to parking lot. If the lot is full, park on the OPPOSITE side of the street facing up the hill.

Hike, Sat. Feb. 13, Regicides, Sanford Feeder, and Quinnipiac Trails, Hamden/Bethany.
Meet at 11 a.m. to hike at 11:15 a.m. from the West Rock Ridge State Park at the Hill St. parking area, 610 Hill St., Hamden, for this 7-mile moderate paced loop hike exploring the northern section of the Regicides Trail and a portion of the Quinnipiac Trail west of York Mountain with terrific views from the top of the ridge. Trail map at Well-mannered dogs welcome. Rain, falling snow, or slippery roads cancels; if conditions are uncertain, contact leader via email by 8 a.m. to confirm that the hike is taking place. Feel free to come at 8:45 a.m. for a trail work party. Directions: Rt. 15 to Exit 60 and head south on Rt. 10 to the first light. Right on Benham St. for 1 mile. Right on Paradise Ave. at the light, then quick right to stay on Paradise Ave. for 1.5 miles. Left on Hill St. at stop sign and go 1.2 miles to parking lot. If the lot is full, park on the OPPOSITE side of the street facing up the hill. 

(The date of Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 is the date this website was started.
The most recent update took place Sunday, Feb, 7, 2016.)

General Information
Trail Descriptions
Information for Specific Activities
Natural Features
Historical Information
Trail Maintenance
The trail descriptions are spread across so many pages to make the information easier to access.

* The largest state park by area is Macedonia Brook State Park in Kent with 2,302 acres. Sleeping Giant is third in size for state parks with 1,673 acres of property. Gay City places fourth in size with 1,569 acres. 
All these state parks are dwarfed Pachaug State Forest in northeastern Connecticut with 28,804 acres, Cockaponset State Forest with 17,186 acres divided among multiple properties in eastern Connecticut, Centennial Watershed State Forest spread over 15,370 acres of current and former watershed land in Fairfield County, Housatonic Meadows in Litchfield County with 10,894 acres, and Meshomasic State Forest, east of the Connecticut River with 9,026 acres.
There are numerous other state forests larger than any state park.

The state of Connecticut continues to add land to West Rock Ridge as it comes on the market (or is donated) and as funds are available for purchase. The legislation that created the park legally requires homeowners within the park's legal boundaries to give the state a right of first refusal for purchase.

What is the difference between a state forest and a state park? There are two basic differences. The state actively manages state forests for both lumber and habitat, cutting areas of trees on a regular basis. The state also allows hunting in state forests, except where they are close to roads and buildings.
Hunting is generally prohibited in state parks. One exception is a limited deer hunting season at Collis P. Huntington State Park in Redding/Bethel. The park name is a coincidence, as it was named for its wealthy donor.

West Rock Ridge is part of a much larger greenbelt in south central Connecticut. On the western side of the ridge is open space land owned by the South Central Regional Water Authority (RWA) and the town of Woodbridge, among others. Between Rt. 69 and West Rock there is is 3,753 acres of land. There is another 8,912 acres of protected open space nearby, but not adjacent to West Rock, in Hamden, Woodbridge and Bethany, plus the sliver of the Naugatuck State Forest, Mt. Sanford Block, extending into Cheshire.

On the eastern side of the ridge on Hill Street is land owned by the town of Hamden. Part of the open field and woods near Farm Brook Reservoir is 42 acres of Hamden land. On the east side of Hill Street is Laurel View County Club, a golf course owned by the town of Hamden, which is 161 acres.
These numbers were derived from online GIS maps for Woodbridge, Hamden, Bethany, and Cheshire.

These numbers exclude other open space in Cheshire, and the acreage for the Naugatuck Forest Eastern Block extending into Beacon Falls. Any errors in identifying and totaling these numbers are strictly mine.

Open Space Near West Rock

East of Rt. 69 (adjacent to West Rock)

RWA, including Lake Watrous, Lake Dawson
Darling House property
Konolds Pond: private
Town of Woodbridge
by Konolds Pond and athletic fields
City of New Haven land

RWA, including Lake Bethany

RWA, north of West Rock

Town-owned land by Farm Brook Reservoir
Laurel View Country Club

Open Space Contiguous to West Rock

Open Space Near West Rock

Between Rt. 63 and Rt. 69
Bethany: RWA including Lake Chamberlain
Woodbridge, RWA, including Glen Lake
Town of Woodbridge

West of Rt. 63
Bethany, RWA, west of Rt. 63
Naugatuck State Forest, Bethany
Woodbridge, RWA
Town of Woodbridge

Bethany Townwide
Bethany Conservation Commission
Bethany Land Trust

Sleeping Giant State Park
Brooksvale Park
Naugatuck Forest, Mt. Sanford Block
Regional Water Authority

Naugatuck State Forest

Open Space near West Rock