Mountain laurel in bloom

Mountain laurel in bloom
Mountain laurel is in bloom at West Rock, as seen on the Gold Trail.

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Getting to West Rock by Bus and Foot

Bus Service to West Rock Ridge State Park
     The southern end of West Rock Ridge State Park is located in New Haven, Conn. As you pass north of the Wilbur Cross Parkway, the 1,691-acre park extends into Hamden, Woodbridge, and Bethany. The southern end has a more urban feel, while the northern end draws few visitors. West Rock is accessible by public transportation, which is a convenience for those who do not have cars.


Bus Routes to Use
     
The B Bus routes and the Z1 Bus route from the New Haven Green provide easy access to the park from Westville. Note that there are three B lines, and three Z lines. Any of the B lines will take you to the corner of Whalley Avenue and Blake Street, but only the Z1 bus line goes to Westville, where you get get off at the corner of Valley Street and Blake Street. Pick up the bus from the Green at the corner of Chapel Street and Temple Street. 
     According to the schedule published by Connecticut Transit, the trip to Westville takes about 14 minutes and costs $1.50 for adults or 75¢ for senior citizens and those with disabilities (in 2014). Buses run about two times per hour on Saturdays and Sundays.
     For a map and schedule, visit www.cttransit.comAt the top, click on Routes/Schedules, go to New Haven, and then to B Whalley Avenue or Z Goffe Street-Sargent Drive.
     The New Haven Green is only three blocks west of Union Station with service by Metro North Railroad and Amtrak. From the station, walk up Chapel Street to the green.
     The direct link to the map for the bus routes in New Haven may be found here: www.cttransit.com/uploads_RTDivisionSystem/NH_SysMap_2013.pdf

Walking from the Bus to the Park
     From the B1, 2, or 3 bus routes, get off the bus in the Westville section of New Haven at the corner of Whalley Avenue and Blake Street. Walk one block east on Blake Street and cross over Valley Street. From the Z1 route, exit the bus on Valley Street at Blake Street. From this point, walk through the parking lot of the Early Childhood Learning Center, 495 Blake St., New Haven (visible by the brick smokestack).
     Cross the pedestrian bridge over the West River at the back of the parking lot and you will see a ballfield with West Rock itself looming above the field. You will see the Blue-Yellow blazes for the Westville Feeder on the bridge.

Suggested Hikes
     To access the Westville Feeder, turn left and parallel the river as you follow the Blue-Yellow blazes. The Westville Feeder has a steady climb with excellent footing before it ends at the Blue-blazed Regicides Trail. At the junction, turn left to head north to Judges Cave, a historic site, or turn right to head south toward the South Overlook. The South Overlook provides panoramic views of New Haven and the Long Island Sound. From the South Overlook, descend on the Red Trail. At the base of the descent, the Red Trail turns left. Continue straight another 200 feet on an unmarked trail, then turn right onto the Teal Trail to return to the ballfield and parking area. As you near the ballfield, you will see a Teal-White Trail. Turn left and take that trail into and around the ballfield. If you stay on the Teal Trail, it intersects the Westville Feeder. This loop provides about two miles of hiking.
    For a longer hike from the Westville Feeder, turn left onto the Regicides Trail, and continue north on the Regicides Trail, which connects to a extensive network of trails in West Rock and surrounding properties. Use the park map to plan your own hike, such as taking the Regicides Trail to the Green Trail. The Green Trail descends from Judges Cave to the main entrance where you could turn right on the Red Trail, and return to the start on the Teal Trail.
     A recommended longer hike would involve taking the Regicides Trail north from the Westville Feeder about 3 miles, then turning east on the Purple Trail, and descending off the ridge. Turn right on the White Trail, which will parallel Lake Wintergreen. At the terminus of the White Trail, turn right on the Red Trail. At the base of the steep climb to the South Overlook, turn left on a brief unmarked trail (about 200 feet), then right on the the Teal Trail, and then left on the Teal-White Trail to return to the bridge at the West River.
    The Regicides Trail connects to the Red-blazed North Summit Trail that descends into Woodbridge and its network of trails.
      At its northern terminus, the Regicides Trail intersects the Blue-Blazed Quinnipiac Trail, managed by the the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. From the Quinnipiac Trail, hikers can reach the Naugatuck State Forest, Brooksvale Park, and Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. This would be a hike for the truly adventurous.
     All maps are accessible using the Links page of this website.

Alternate Access Location
    The B1 bus link offers a second option for access to West Rock. Take the B1 bus to the corner of Wintergreen Avenue and Brookside Avenue, just past Connecticut Job Corps. After getting off the bus, turn left to stay on Wintergreen Avenue. The main entrance to West Rock is on the left in 0.3 miles. Only a portion of this road has sidewalks, so be aware of traffic.
     From the main entrance, hikers could walk up the road to Judges Cave and the South Overlook. They could also pick up the Green Trail to Judges Cave and from there take the road or the Regicides Trail to the South Overlook. The main entrance also offers direct access to the Red Trail to head north to Lake Wintergreen, or south to return back toward Westville.

This is an excellent view of the southern end of West Rock Ridge from the ballfield near the West River in Westville. Continuing along this side of the ballfield leads to the official start of the Westville Feeder trail.


Walking to West Rock from Southern Conn. State University

West Rock is located just outside the campus of Southern Connecticut State University, so it provides an excellent way to take a break from studying to relax and enjoy nature. For the sake of simplicity, directions are given from the corner of Wintergreen Avenue by Farnam Avenue. Since Wintergreen Brook separates the campus from West Rock, the shortest, most direct routes cannot be walked. Be sure to download and print a West Rock map from the state website at www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrock.pdf

To access the Westville Feeder or Teal-White Trail from Blake Street (about a 0.7 mile one-way walk): Walk on Farnam Avenue in the direction away from Wintergreen Avenue. Turn right on Blake Street. After crossing the West River Bridge, turn right into the Early Childhood Center, marked by the smokestack. Walk straight to the back of the parking lot, and then across the footbridge over the West River. Turn left for the Blue-Yellow Westville Feeder, or right for the Teal-White Trail.
A suggested short hike would be to take the Westville Feeder to the Blue-Blazed Regicides Trail, and turn right on the Regicides Trail to reach the South Overlook. Descend off the ridge on the Red Trail. At the bottom of the steep descent, continue straight where the Red Trail turns left. In about 200 feet, turn right on the Teal Trail, and branch off into the ballfield on the Teal-White Trail to return to the West River bridge.

To access the Red-White blazed Old Oak Trail behind Common Ground High School (about a 0.6 mile one-way walk): Walk north on Wintergreen Avenue away from Farnam Avenue. Head left across the West River at the split where Wilmot Avenue goes right. Carefully cross Wintergreen Avenue, watching for fast-moving cars whipping around curves. Turn left and follow the sidewalk to the main entrance of the high school. Within the grounds, head up the access road and turn left or right by the buildings to access the Red-White Trail. This trail leads to the Teal Trail and Red Trail at West Rock, which connect to other trails in the park. Stay off the Common Ground property when school is in session.

Attempting to walk to the main entrance of West Rock, just south of the Wilbur Cross Parkway overpass is NOT recommended. Wintergreen Avenue is narrow and winding with no shoulder or sidewalks. People drive fast on this road and can easily come around a curve and surprise you.

This view of Southern Connecticut State University from the climb to the South Overlook on the Red Trail shows just how close the school is located to West Rock. This makes the park an ideal location for an outing for university students, particularly those without cars.


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