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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Hikes to Waterfalls Near West Rock

  Waterfalls Information

There are no real waterfalls at West Rock Ridge State Park, the closest thing being the spillway to Lake Wintergreen, which has some natural rocks underneath, and the spillway to the small pond just north of Mountain Road. Otherwise, West Rock lacks the necessary combination of steep terrain over which a regular stream flows. There are temporary seasonal flows that rush down the ridge, but none would qualify as true waterfalls, in part because the slope on the eastern side is too shallow.
The spillway below the Lake Wintergreen dam partially resembles a waterfall as seen by the rocky bottom of the upper portion, as seen in this view from the Red Trail.
Connecticut Waterfalls: A Guide by Russell Dunn and Christy Butler and published in 2013 by The Countryman Press, Woodstock, Vermont, is a wonderful guide to the many waterfalls in the state.
The book references three waterfalls near West Rock, Wintergreen Falls at the West Rock Nature Center, the Gorge Cascade at Sleeping Giant State Park, and Roaring Brook Falls in Cheshire, near the Quinnipiac Trail:
Wintergreen Falls is just outside the West Rock's main entrance, across Wintergreen Avenue on the grounds of the West Rock Nature Center.  One minor update to the book: the book references the West Rock Ridge map when discussing Wintergreen Falls, but observers actually need the West Rock Nature Center map found here: http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/Parks/ParksInformation/media/2008WRNCMap.pdf.
Two details in the book have changed since it was published: the lower parking lot of the West Rock Nature Center is mostly blocked off by barriers, so use Tierney Road, Hamden, as an alternate parking location. Also, the web addresses in the book for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) need an extra "E" to reflect the transformation to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). You can also use this link to reach the park of your choice: http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325086&deepNav_GID=1650.
Another option to reach the falls it walk from Lake Wintergreen along the Red Trail, continuing south along Baldwin Drive. Turn left onto the road by the main entrance, and then left through the closed parking lot just past the cement booth. Just across Wintergreen Avenue is the lower parking lot of the West Rock Nature Center.
To see the falls, climb over the stone wall by the lower parking lot and walk to the edge of the hill, which is a steep drop to the falls, so be careful when standing there. Due to the steep, slippery terrain, it is nearly impossible to walk down safely to base of the falls. The best opportunity would be when there is at least a foot of snow on the ground. Then it would be possible to walk down the steep ravine to the right of the falls (when looking down on them), rather than trying to walk along the falls themselves.

Wintergreen Falls, off Wintergreen Avenue, is across the street from West Rock Ridge State Park, in the lower section of the West Rock Nature Center.

Wintergreen Falls runs strongly in March 2015.
This is a view looking down Wintergreen Falls.
The Gorge Cascade is located at Sleeping Giant State Park, a short drive (or a 5-mile one-way hike) from West Rock via the Quinnipiac Trail. At Sleeping Giant, the Red Circle Trail parallels the gorge and related cascade from Tuttle Avenue to the Violet Trail, a distance of 0.7 miles. From the Quinnipiac Trail, turn left onto the Red Circle Trail at the giant's left leg. 
The nearest trailhead is a dirt pull-off for two vehicles on Tuttle Avenue, 1.2 miles northeast of Rt. 10, and 0.2 miles northeast of River Road. The Red Circle Trail extends to Mount Carmel Avenue on the south of Sleeping Giant, ending opposite Ridge Road.
The Red Circle Trail is a steady climb from 175 ft. of elevation at Tuttle Avenue to 550 ft. of elevation at the Violet Trail, which is a 10 percent grade.
The upper torso of the Sleeping Giant lies peacefully, as seen from East Rock Park.
Footing is slippery and uncertain in spots, so hiking poles are highly recommended, particularly in wet and icy conditions, which are the best times to view a waterfall. If the trail is icy, be sure to wear traction devices, such as Microspikes, as the trail angles toward the gorge in places.  
As you hike up, you are rewarded with continuous views of the cascades. The most dramatic view may be found about a quarter mile up the trail, just before crossing a side stream on a wooden footbridge. Further up there is a waterfall about 10 feet in height. 
If the Tuttle Avenue parking is full, hikers can always start from the main entrance of Sleeping Giant at 200 Mount Carmel Avenue. Take the Yellow Trail north for 1.05 miles, then turn left on the Red Circle Trail and it is 0.7 miles to the junction with the Violet Trail. The cascades start just beyond the Violet Trail. From the cascades, go back the way you came or use the map to plot your own return route.
 The Sleeping Giant Park Association publishes a detailed, full color map, which may be downloaded and printed from its website at http://sgpa.org/Color-Map-2012.pdf. The SGPA has many good resources on its website at http://sgpa.org/.
This is the most dramatic view of the Gorge Cascade at Sleeping Giant State Park, as seen from the Red Circle Trail, about 0.25 miles from Tuttle Avenue, just before the trail turns and crosses wooden footbridge. 
This smaller waterfall rewards hikers willing to continue the uphill climb
on the Red Circle Trail at Sleeping Giant State Park.
You can hike to Roaring Brook Falls in Cheshire, off the Quinnipiac Trail, from the Regicides Trail. The distance is about 8 miles one way from the end of the Regicides Trail near York Mountain. At the junction with the Orange-Blazed falls trail, turn right and descend the hill to view the falls.


The shortest walk is available from the trailhead by 827 Roaring Brook Rd. Cheshire. Follow the entry road directly back from the cul-de-sac, and then turn left to follow the Orange Trail along the falls. Total distance is 0.75 miles. The starting elevation is 200 feet and the trail rises to 675 feet of elevation at the Quinnipiac Trail for about a 12 percent grade.

Footing is slippery and uncertain in spots, so hiking poles are highly recommended, particularly in wet and icy conditions, which are the best times to view a waterfall. If the trail is icy, be sure to wear traction devices, such as Microspikes, as the trail angles toward the gorge in places.

Directions to the Cheshire Trailhead: Rt. 15 to Exit 59. Go north on Rt. 69 for 8.6 mi. Right on Rt. 42 E. for 2.6 mi. Left on Mountain Rd. for 0.4 miles. Left on Roaring Brook Rd. to end. From I-84, take Exit 26. Go East on Rt. 70 for 2.4 miles. Right on Mountain Rd., just past turnoff for Rt. 68 West. Go 2.3 mi. Right on Roaring Brook Rd. to end.

The Cheshire Land Trust has additional information its website, including lots of pictures: http://www.cheshirelandtrust.org/roaring-brook.htm. Christopher Zajac has a video of the falls at https://vimeo.com/25595354.
This is one section of Roaring Brook Falls, Cheshire, March 2013.
Online information for these and other waterfalls can be found at the Connecticut Waterfalls website, which includes pictures, sounds, and driving directions. This website has good information, but appears to be a project that was started and never completed, as the total list of waterfalls is relatively small. 
    Sperry Falls, Woodbridge, Feb. 2012. Alas, we cannot claim this scenic beauty for West Rock, but we can hike there from the base of the ridge,
    starting at the Thomas Darling House.

There are other waterfalls near West Rock that are NOT listed in either the book or the CT Waterfalls website, here is the information.

Wepawaug Falls is located on Woodbridge Land Trust property near Alice Newton Street Memorial Park in the center of Woodbridge. The falls has one drop of about 4 feet and downstream the Wepawaug River splits, featuring a twin cascade.
From Woodbridge Town Hall, walk toward the First Church of Christ and look for the map board set back near the church.
The falls are on the Blue Trail, which has mostly flat terrain, about 1 mile from the Town Hall. For a short walk to the falls (about 0.1 miles), park at the trailhead on Indian Trail Road. For map and brochure visit this website and click on the link for both the brochure and map: http://www.woodbridgect.org/content/6591/6685/default.aspx

Directions to Woodbridge Town Hall: Rt. 15 North to Exit 57 to Rt. 34 East. Left onto Rt. 114 East for 4.3 miles, then left onto Meetinghouse Lane. Rt. 15 South to Exit 59 to Rt. 69 North for 0.2 miles. Left on Lucy St., then right onto Rt. 63 North for 1 mile, then left on Rt. 114 West for 1 mile, then right on Meetinghouse Lane, and park in front of the Town Hall. 

Wepawaug Falls single cascade on Woodbridge Land Trust property, adjacent to Alice Newton Street Memorial Park, accessible from Meetinghouse Lane.
The split cascade of the Wepawaug Falls in Woodbridge.

Falls on Downs Road: There is a seasonal waterfall on Downs Road, adjacent to Lake Watrous. If the waterfall has a name, I do not know it. The falls are located on the Rt. 69 side of Downs Road, about 0.6 miles north of the junction where Downs Road splits off from Rt. 69. There is no parking in the area, and the road is narrow and difficult for walking. The way to see them to ride a bicycle, and be aware of traffic. Since the falls are seasonal, there is not much to see in dry weather.

The waterfall on Downs Road by Lake Watrous is partially obscured by the trees.
A fence prevents getting a closer look.

Impressive pictures of Connecticut waterfalls may be found on the website of fine arts photographer J.G. Coleman: http://www.connecticutfalls.com/artwork/waterfalls-of-connecticut/

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