Snow on the White Trail

Snow on the White Trail
A thin coating of snow brings a touch of winter to the White Trail.

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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).* 
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.

(The date of Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 is the date this website was started.
The most recent update took place Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2016.)

Revised West Rock map posted to the state website
The state has posted an updated trails map of West Rock to its website. This map shows all the updates to trails, updates which are detailed on the Trail Updates page. Be sure to print the new map when using the park. Website:
Link to the GPS friendly map, which can be used on a smart phone:

DEEP Agrees to Replant Tree in Hill Street Meadow
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has agreed to plant a tree in the meadow near Hill Street. This does not exactly replace the 100 year old tree that was cut down, but at least this is a step in the right direction. The West Rock Ridge Park Association is concerned because the DEEP is proposing placing the tree closer to the gravel road, rather than near the location of the former tree in the center of the field. The New Haven Register published a story on this topic on Nov. 10, 2016:

Website Updates, November 2016
I updated the links on the pages regarding trails and maps, as some had changed on the host website. Keeping up with changing links is always a frustration and a challenge of maintaining a website.
I split the recommended hikes page into two pages, spinning off the Hikes to Waterfalls as a separate page. On the Hikes Beyond West Rock page, I added information about hiking at East Rock in New Haven, the Quillinan Reservoir in Ansonia/Seymour, and Giuffrida Park and Hubbard Park in Meriden. Other suggested hiking areas will be added as I have time.
I have added three new pages: Hiking Redding Trails, Rail Trails in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Eastern New York, and Trail Maintenance Results in a Healthy Mind and Body. The links are to the right and further down this page.

New Naugatuck State Forest page
The Naugatuck State Forest page on this website was overwritten by a glitch back in the spring. I retyped the page and reposted the pictures. I have made a copy of this page in case the glitch returns. As of Nov. 11, the page also has the links to other websites restored. Page:

DOT Plans for the West Rock TunnelThe Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted a meeting in Woodbridge regarding its plans for the West Rock Tunnel (Heroes Tunnel). This meeting was NOT covered by any newspaper or television station. Read the details on the West Rock Tunnel page on this website at

Fall colors frame the West Rock Tunnel (Heroes Tunnel) in fall 2015.

Limited Hours for Main Gate Opening
The main gate on Wintergreen Avenue gate closed for the season on Sunday,  Oct. 30, 2016, and will reopen the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in 2017. The other parking areas are readily available 8 a.m. to dusk with the nearest choice being the Lake Wintergreen parking lot.

The parking lot adjacent to the main entrance is open due to a broken chain. This parking lot is actually owned and operated by the Department of Parks, City of New Haven. According to Park Ranger Martin Torresquinterro, people keep breaking the chain, and the parks department has not yet implemented a more permanent solution. Martin recommends that if people park in this lot that they hide any valuables, since there have been break-ins in this lot. As detailed elsewhere on this website, I have seen broken window glass on the pavement from people parked both outside and inside the main entrance. Play it safe and park at Lake Wintergreen, or other locations.

Purple Trail Relocation
The relocation/extension of the Purple Trail is complete, effective May 9, 2016. The Purple Trail now connects directly to an overlook of Lake Dawson and Glen Lake in Woodbridge, and also to the North Summit Trail that descends into Woodbridge. The Purple Trail connects to the Regicides Trail in the same location. The former Purple Trail from the split at the relocation to the Regicides Trail 0.3 miles south of the overlook has been blazed Purple-Orange.

North Summit Trail Color Change
Effective May 30, 2016, Woodbridge has changed the color of the North Summit Trail from Red to Blue-Yellow. The intent is to create a cross-Woodbridge trail that is blazed in one color. Woodbridge has also changed the color of the loop trail at the Bishop Estate and Darling House property from Blue to Red. Photos of this color change may be seen at this page:
The updated map for the Bishop Estate East and Darling House Trails that shows the revised trail colors may be downloaded here:
The South Central Regional Council of Governments has updated all the maps on its website for trails in Greater New Haven, and these maps may be downloaded from its website at this address: Scroll down to the desired town and click on the tab to view the list of maps.

Park improvements in 2015 featured a relocation of the Red Trail by Farm Brook Reservoir. See this page for details:

I asked the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) if they could install a culvert on the Sanford Feeder Trail, which has a low, boggy spot about halfway up the trail. In August 2016, the RWA installed TWO new culverts on the Sanford Feeder Trail, which will hopefully solve the long-standing problem of water running across the trail. Due to the current drought, the area is dry, so until normal rains resume, we will not know if this solution will work.

Two new 12-inch culverts on the Sanford Feeder Trail will hopefully allow water to pass under the trail and not across it.

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