Fall Colors

Fall Colors
Fall colors brighten the base of the ridge as seen from Amrhyn Field, October 2015.

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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.

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. Page: http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/naugatuck-state-forest-west-block.html

Missing Dog
A missing black Labrador retriever is believed to be at West Rock, and the family is attempting to find their dog. Information on the dog and contact information should you see the dog is in the following article:

DOT Plans for the West Rock Tunnel
The 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 http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/west-rock-tunnel.html.

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

Trail Work Party
Please join a trail work party, followed by a hike, that meets at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 in the parking lot at 649 Mountain Road, Hamden. We will prune back the trail between the two crossings of Mountain Road (about a mile each way along flat ground if we cover the whole trail), working until about 12:00 p.m.

After we return to the car and stow our tools, those interested can join a short, moderate paced 3-mile hike, which will go up the ridge on the Yellow Trail and then head north on the Regicides Trail to the Red Trail, with its beautiful overlook of Farm Brook Reservoir, returning past the reservoir on the Red Trail.

If you plan to attend, please bring whatever cutting tools you may have, such as pruning shears and/or a pruning saw. If you do not have tools, come anyway because there will be some tools to share.

If you can only come for an hour, you can still help out. If you arrive later, turn right from the parking area (when facing the house across the street) and then take the right onto the Red Trail heading south.

Be sure to wear work gloves, boots and clothing appropriate to the weather. Dress in layers because you will warm up quickly once you start working. Bring water and a snack.

Directions: From Rt. 15, take Exit 60, and turn right to head south on Rt. 10. At the next traffic light past the parkway, turn right on Benham Street and take this to the end. Then turn right on Main Street and head north for 1.4 miles. As you continue straight (with Chauncey Road on the right), the street name changes to Mountain Road. Go another 0.4 miles around two curves, and the parking lot is on your left.

Limited Hours for Main Gate Opening
Due to state budget cuts, effective June 2016, the main entrance on Wintergreen Avenue to the South Overlook and Judges Cave will only be open weekends, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (earlier than the 6 p.m. time posted on the sign). The gate closes 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.

The sign on the park gate on Wintergreen Avenue. The gate must not be blocked because road access is needed for maintenance to the antennas on the ridge, any park maintenance, and for emergency access.

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: http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/north-summit-old-oak-solar-youth-trails.html.
The updated map for the Bishop Estate East and Darling House Trails that shows the revised trail colors may be downloaded here: http://scrcog.org/wp-content/uploads/trails/woodbridge/alt/RecTrails_WO2_Alt_6-2-16.pdf
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: http://scrcog.org/regional-planning/regional-trails/ Scroll down to the desired town and click on the tab to view the list of maps.

As a result of these changes, the 2014 West Rock park map does not reflect the current path of the Purple Trail, nor does it show the Purple-Orange colors, although it does show that trail. The map shows the North Summit Trail as Red, which was the previous color. A revised map is in the works and will hopefully be uploaded to the state website. When the new map is published, a notice will be posted here. See this page for complete details: http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/colorful-east-west-trails.html

Park improvements in 2015 featured a relocation of the Red Trail by Farm Brook Reservoir. See this page for details: http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/reclaiming-native-forest-from.html

Note: The Naugatuck Forest page has been overwritten by Google and I will rebuild it when I have time. The trail blazing and clearing project at the Naugatuck State Forest, West Block, in Beacon Falls, Oxford, and Naugatuck is complete. Visit this page for details, plus a color-coded map: http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/naugatuck-state-forest-west-block.html.

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.
(The date of Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 is the date this website was started.
The most recent update took place Saturday, Oct. 22, 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