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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Trails Overview and Trail Map Updates

Trails Overview
There are more than 25 miles of marked trails in and near West Rock Ridge State Park, all of which are marked with painted blazes.
See individual pages on this website for details about each trail.
 
Users are asked to stay to marked trails and not create new trails, whether by cutting plants (which is illegal without DEEP approval), or by repeatedly walking an area and creating a trail by trampling plants.
Unauthorized trails cause the following problems:
  • Any trail causes erosion in this sensitive ecosystem, and unauthorized trails are especially a problem since they are probably not designed well.
  • Unauthorized trails also cause confusion, since they are not blazed, and not listed on the map.
  • These unauthorized trails also subtract from the beauty of the park because they take what is green and replace it with a brown footpath.
  • Another problem with getting off trail is the risk of carrying seeds from invasive plant species, and having them grow in even more places.

Links to the Park Map

The official full color state map is available at the DEEP website to download and printing and or to download and view on a smart phone.
Download and print: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrockparkmap.pdf
Download to a smart phone: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrockgps.pdf
 


The Connecticut Forest and Park Association uses light blue to blaze its trails because the color is easily seen in a variety of conditions.


How to Read Trail Blazes
One blaze indicates the trail continues straight ahead.
Two blazes together means the trail turns. If the higher blaze is to the left, then the trail turns left. If the higher blaze is to the right, then the trail turns right.
If two blazes are stacked to resemble an equal sign, then this symbol indicates the end of the trail.
Some trails are marked with two colors, with a longer blaze on top and a shorter one of a different color underneath, such as the two Red-White Trails. These blazes mark shorter trails that connect to the main trails within the park.
There is no special marker to indicate the start of a trail.  


Trail and Map Updates
The online state map was last updated in October 2016 and reflects most of updates to the blazes along the trail. If you have an older map, be aware that it will not include these improvements. These updates include the following:
  • 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. Read about the changes in the Purple Trail section under the link "Colorful East-West Trails: Green, Orange, Gold, Purple and Yellow."
  • A short connector trail along the eastern shore of Lake Wintergreen, near the southern end of the lake by the Lake Wintergreen spillway is blazed Red-White.
  • The trail to the water tank and connecting to the Regicides Trail is blazed Gold, starting at the White Trail. The older maps shows this trail as an unblazed road to the water tank, and Gold only beyond that point.
  • The Teal Trail extends from its junction with the Red Trail (about 0.4 miles south of the main entrance) to its junction with the Blue-Yellow blazed Westville Feeder (about 0.2 miles north of the ballfield in Westville). The Teal Trail includes a Teal-White spur that descends into the ballfield, around the left field line, and out to the bridge at the West River.
  • The Red Trail by Farm Brook Reservoir was relocated out of the field and into the woods along the pond in August 2015. The change with regard to the map is minimal, as the trail was moved no more than 100 yards from its previous location. Details on this relocation are available on the page "Reclaiming the Native Forest from Invasive Plants."
  • Effective May 30, 2016, Woodbridge 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.
    Photos of the new color may be seen on this page: http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/north-summit-old-oak-solar-youth-trails.html.
  • Solar Youth, a New Haven youth organization, created a trail from the junction of Wintergreen and Brookside avenues to the Red Trail. This trail is blazed dark blue with a yellow dot.

  • The new map does not have this minor update: The blazes for the Yellow Trail along Mountain Road, blazes that were added in June 2015 to guide people between these two trails. Mountain Road is shown on the map, just not the Yellow blazes in this location.
     
Trail Mileages
This is an overview of the trails by name and length. When calculating mileage, take this information into account.
  • The Red Trail follows Baldwin Drive for 0.2 miles just north of the main entrance.
  • The Yellow Trail overlaps Baldwin Drive for 0.1 miles.
  • The Regicides Trail follows Regicide Trail by Judges Cave for 0.05 miles.
  • The North Summit Trail and the Sanford Feeder Trail are almost entirely located on water company land, reducing the actual trail mileage within West Rock to 23.9 miles.
Some additional mileage may be found on these unblazed, but official trails. I will add mileage when I know it, but the total mileage of all these roads and trails is less than one mile.
  • There is a 0.2 mile long gravel road to the cell phone antennas, shortly past the West Rock Tunnel.
  • There is a 0.14 mile long dirt road from tunnel ventilation shaft to Baldwin Drive that crosses this gravel road.
  • There are steps from Red Trail at the first switchback on Baldwin Drive to the third switchback.
  • There are a series of old roads and trails that parallel the Westville Feeder.

Mileage
Trail Name
6.80
Regicides Trail
6.75
Red Trail
2.30
White Trail
1.00
Teal Trail
1.15
Purple Trail
0.95
Quinnipiac Trail
0.80
Blue-Yellow Trail (North Summit Trail to Woodbridge)
0.75
Green Trail
0.70
Westville Feeder
0.70
Red-White by Farm Brook Reservoir
0.60
Sanford Feeder
0.50
Yellow Trail
0.50
Gold Trail
0.40
Red-White by Lake Wintergreen
0.35
Red-White (Common Ground)
0.30
Orange Trail
0.25
Purple-Orange
0.20
Teal-White
0.20
Blue-Yellow (Solar Youth)
0.15
Purple-White Trail
25.35
Total trail mileage


5.60
Baldwin Drive
1.55
Regicide Drive
0.30
West Shepard Ave.
7.45
Total paved road mileage

Trail Blazing Information
A definite frustration of hikers is hiking in an area where the map implies the trails are blazed (marks painted on trees), but the markings are faded, missing in places along the trail, or non-existent. Faded blazes that resulted in me getting lost at West Rock are what inspired me to start volunteering my services in 2007. 
Trail blazing at West Rock follows the general convention of blazes that are about the size a dollar bill, six inches high by two inches wide. Blazes are usually located so that you can see one blaze from the next blaze. Being able to do this requires having suitable trees and rocks in the correct locations, which is not always possible. Sometimes that next blaze may be around a sharp corner or visible after you walk another 100 feet. 
When following blazes, if you cannot see one blaze from the next, turn around to see if you can see blazes to verify that are still on the trail. Another option is to have someone in your group (if you have a group) walk another 100 to 200 feet to see if they can spot another blaze.
If you lose track of blazes, it is always better to backtrack to the last blaze you saw, than to blindly plow ahead looking for the next blaze. This is particularly true when trails take sharp turns. There are a few exceptions to this guideline of being able to see one blaze from the next.
  • The Red Trail is straight and wide in some sections, so there is no need to see one blaze from the next; thus, blazes may be spaced slightly more distant because the trail is so obvious. These sections include the following: from the south end of Lake Wintergreen to the southern section of Mountain Road, as well as the gravel portion between the northern section of Mountain Road and Farm Brook Reservoir. The trail is so straight and wide in these areas that it is easy to follow.
  • There are areas where is simply nothing to blaze: no trees or no suitable trees, no rocks, and no wooden posts. In these areas, I blaze where I can. Portions of the Regicides Trail fit this category.
  • In some places, the only thing to blaze is cedar trees and rocks where blazes only last two to three years. The Red Trail from the woods above Farm Brook Reservoir to the overlook of the field and reservoir has these conditions.
  • Along some trails, there are open, rocky areas where the only thing to blaze is rocks, and blazes may be hard to see in summer, and covered by snow in winter. 
  • Finally, in potentially confusing areas, such as the crossing of Baldwin Drive by various trails, I do not apologize for extra blazes to keep people on track.
In some places you may see two sets of blazes on a tree, ones that are obviously older and more faded. Unless they are confusing, I will typically leave up older blazes that may be located too low or two high on the tree, or sets of blazes that are too close together. Covering them with dark paint only serves to preserve them until the covering paint wears away.
If I relocate a trail, or if I see different colors along the trail (as some trails were apparently other colors in the past), I will paint out the old blazes. I don't just cover the old blazes because that leads to other confusion, such as hikers wondering if there is a brown, black or olive drab trail. Instead, I will paint a splatter of the olive drab covering color I use to make it look like a patch of lichen.

Lifespan of Trail Blazes 
Blazes have various lifespans, depending on the type of paint used, the color of the paint, how much sun exposure they receive, the type of tree bark on which they are painted, and the fact that blazes have a shorter usable life on rocks.  Blazes are also affected when trees fall and take down the blazes painted on them. If a couple of trees fall in a short area, that area may appear to be unblazed. Blazes may be hidden by leaves in the summer. Occasionally, I have had people vandalize blazes by painting them a different color, as has happened on the Red Trail ascending to the South Overlook.
Typically, blazes can last 5 to 7 (and possibly even 10 years on trees before they are not useable). Ideally, I try to reblaze trails every five years, but with 24 miles of trails to blaze single-handedly, I have not always followed that schedule.  The other challenge of blazing is that I use latex paint, which can only be applied when temperatures are above 55 degrees and in conditions that are dry for a 48-hour window around the day I am blazing. I have calculated that when I am doing a combination of blazing and cutting back overgrowth, my typical progress is 5 to 10 hours per mile.
This is a schedule of the trails and when they were last reblazed. In 2015, I reblazed shorter trails that have not been reblazed in the last five years: Purple, Purple-White, Red-White, Gold, and Yellow. As compared the Regicides and Red Trails, which can take half a year's worth of visits to reblaze, some of these shorter trails are like "snacks," which I reblazed in one day or even an afternoon.
A tree with a blaze lies alongside the gravel portion of the Red Trail in Sept. 2015.
When trees with blazes fall, it can make it more difficult to follow the trail.
Fortunately, in this area the trail is obvious.

Trail Reblazing Dates
 This chart of trails and when they are reblazed are grouped roughly geographically, unlike the above chart that is grouped by trail length. At the same time I am reblazing, the trails are getting a thorough pruning back of overgrowth. This pruning back takes place on an annual basis, even when blazing is not taking place. 
Chart comments: There are portions of the White Trail north of Lake Wintergreen that I have not reblazed since 2007. The reason is that I plan to relocate these parts of the trail out of the mud and onto the slope of the ridge, a big project I simply have not had time to tackle. Those areas are straight and wide, so it is easy to follow the trail, and the blazes are still visible, although they may be discolored. 
The new section of the Purple Trail was blazed in April 2016.
I am not responsible for the blazing of the Quinnipiac Trail, but I consulted with the previous volunteer trail manager there and helped him out by redoing the blazes from York Mountain to Brooks Road in November 2014. The blazes from York Mountain to Paradise Lane were redone in 2013 or so.
Woodbridge volunteers changed the trail color of the North Summit Trail from Red to Blue-Yellow in May 2016.
The following trails are overdue for a reblazing and will be reblazed in spring and summer 2017: White Trail and the Westville Feeder.

 
Trail
Last Blazed
Regicides
 June-Sept. 2014
Westville Feeder
 June 2011
Sanford Feeder
 Aug. 2016
Red
 Summer 2012
White Trail
 June-July 2012
Red-White (Hill St.)
 May 2015
Red-White (Lake W.)
 July 2015
Blue (North Summit)
 May 2016
Teal
 April 2012
Teal-White
 April 2012
Green
 May 2013
Orange
 Oct. 2013
Gold
 Sept. 2015
Purple
 June 2015
Purple-White
 June 2015
Yellow
 June 2015

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