Barred Owl

Barred Owl
A barred owl rests in a tree along the Red Trail, Sept. 2017.

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West Rock Completed Wish List

Overview and Thanks
I was inspired to start taking care of the trails at West Rock when I got lost one too many times while out hiking and decided to solve the problem instead of complaining about it. I started work in August 2007 and have logged nearly 1,000 volunteer hours as of May 2016, plus an additional 200 hours as a seasonal state employee in summer 2008.

While I worked solo on many projects, I did have tremendous help from various individuals, particularly with regard to solving the soggy trail issue on the White Trail near its northern terminus with the Red Trail.
I offer special thanks to Mike Ceruzzi and John Rek for their assistance in dealing with that soggy trail issue. They helped me lug in several tons of rock from the quarry at Sleeping Giant to the White Trail. While a state truck was able to move the rocks from the quarry to the junction of the Red and White Trails, it required wheelbarrows to move the rocks from that point to the perpetually wet area. Mike also carried in many wheelbarrowfuls of process, a gravel and stone dust mixture that provides a hard surface for walking and biking.
Other people who assisted me include Dennis Franco, who gets special thanks for trimming back the poison ivy on the tree I needed to blaze on the Red Trail at Mountain Road. Dennis also wheeled out a dryer tub that someone had dumped on the trail. Also helping have been Barbara Benedict, Polly Buckley, Keith Coughlin, Ernie Daruka, Patrick DeMichele, and Gary Griswold.
I also give thanks to the anonymous people who stopped by and helped me for a short time, whether it was taking a turn at the saw on a tree blocking the trail, moving a downed tree out of the way, or picking up litter.

I also had funding assistance from three organizations to which I belong: Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club and the Bicycling Committee of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Connecticut Chapter, which donated $300 each, and the New Haven Hiking Club, which donated $170.

I especially need to thank former Park Supervisor Lori Lindquist who has allowed me to make all these park improvements, and who hired me in summer 2008, and wanted to hire me again in summer 2010, but I simply did not have the time to return for a second summer. I have received continued support for trail projects from her successor, Park Supervisor Joseph Maler, and the current Park Supervisor Jill Scheibenpflug.

Thanks to Rich Coffey for the mini-maps on this website, which add interest to the various trail pages. Rich has been an active volunteer with the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA) at the Pequonnock Valley in Trumbull, Mianus River Park in Greenwich-Stamford, and Huntington State Park in Redding-Bethel. You can find Rich on the web and see his interactive maps of these and other areas at http://www.vizettes.com/fc-mtnbikingmaps/.

These mini-maps are based on the West Rock map created by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). We believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the web constitutes a fair use of the state map and are making such material available to help people make better use of the park.

 
The picture shows New Haven and the Long Island Sound as seen from the South Overlook on an exceptionally clear day.

Green Trail
Then: The markings were heavily faded and only ran from the paved road to the Blue Trail, stopping short of Judges Cave by about 100 yards.
Now: The blazes are renewed and run from the Red Trail to Judges Cave.
Future: The trail is heavily eroded, but some water bars would help slow further erosion.

Orange Trail
Then: The Orange Trail used to end at Baldwin Drive, leaving users scratching their heads as to where they should go next.
Now: I merged the Orange Trail with the Blue Trail at Baldwin Drive, and continue both trails straight across Baldwin Drive. The Orange Trail stops about 100 feet before the overlook of Konolds Pond while the Blue Trail turns right and heads north along the ridge. This change gives the Orange Trail a destination that it previously did not have. By keeping it back from the ridge, people can visit the overlook based on their comfort level for views at cliff edges.

Gold Trail
Then: A wide road to the water tank, and an informal trail up the ridge.
Now: I blazed the trail Gold from the White Trail to the Blue Trail. Some minor brush clearing makes the narrow portion of the trail beyond the water tank easier to follow.
Future: A couple of the stream crossings could benefit from some rocks to harden the trail and keep the water running across the trail, not down it.
Note: This trail should not be confused with the Yellow Trail, which is located miles north on the ridge. This trail is painted Gold.


The Gold Trail starts just beyond Wintergreen Brook.

Purple Trail
Then: Blazed dark blue from the Red Trail to Baldwin Drive, markings that were often so faded that you could not follow them. Locating the trail from Baldwin Drive was nearly impossible. The middle section approaching the overlook was heavily eroded and steep, so it was not comfortable to climb. The trail bypassed an overlook to the east. There was no connection to the Regicides Trail. 
Now: The trail is blazed Purple from Main Street, and has an extension connecting it to the Regicides Trail. The middle section has been changed into a switchback trail that is not likely to erode, plus I installed a series of waterbars approaching the switchback to slow erosion on the steep slope. I also installed a waterbar on a steep section between the White and the Red Trails. An extension/relocation was created in Dec. 2015, which passes an overlook to the east and links to the North Summit Trail and the Regicides Trail by an overlook into Woodbridge off Baldwin Drive.
Future: The section between the White and Red Trails has a steep section and could benefit from another couple of waterbars to slow down further erosion.

This is a terrific view from the overlook on the newly-relocated section of the Purple Trail.
Purple-White Trail
Then: This short trail that connects the White Trail to the Purple Trail had some faded red blazes.
Now: It is clearly blazed in Purple-White. I installed some waterbars near the top for erosion control.

Yellow Trail
Then: The blazes were reasonably easy to follow, but there was no connection to the Blue Trail or the Red Trail.
Now: The blazes are clear to follow. There is an extension to the Blue Trail. There are also Yellow blazes along Mountain Road to provide a visual guide to connect trail users between the Yellow Trail on the ridge to the Red Trail.
Not in the future: If you look at a West Rock map, you see the close but missing connection between the Yellow and Red trails and may think, "Why don't they connect?" I explored this idea, but it would be too difficult to do as the land between the two is mostly a swamp. It's easy enough to turn north on Mountain Road for one-third of a mile to connect to the Red Trail when coming off the Yellow Trail.

White Trail
Then: Along Lake Wintergreen, this was mostly easy to follow because it is a wide woods road. There are some unauthorized trails off this trail that can cause some confusion. North of Lake Wintergreen, parts of the trail were difficult to follow, and washed out at different times of the year. The seasonal brook at the Purple Trail could be difficult to cross during peak water times. The bypasses were sometimes difficult to find and follow. About one-quarter mile south of its terminus with the Red Trail, the White Trail passes through a low-lying swampy area that was often impassable on foot.
Now: The trail is clearly blazed, including the bypasses. The seasonal brook has an easy crossing. The boggy area can be crossed without getting feet wet, which is especially important for the people who use the trail to run. I have seen both individuals, and a high school track team using the trail for that purpose.
Future: About one third to one-half mile of the trail between the Purple Trail and the boggy area needs to be relocated further up the ridge to get it out of low-lying areas that are wet too much during the year.
This rock work along the White Trail mostly solved a water problem. The water coming off the ridge collects on the higher side of the trail,  which is frequently muddy. The rock on the higher side give users a dry place to walk and bike while the gap in the rocks channels  the water off the trail.
Standing water along the White Trail shows the need for a trail relocation.

Red Trail
Then: Good luck following it coming off the South Overlook, and then past the main entrance, and between the two sections of Mountain Road. Chances are coming off the South Overlook, you would have made numerous wrong turns and ended up who knows where? If you reached the main entrance, you probably thought the trail ended there. It didn't. If you managed to find your way to the end of Lake Wintergreen, you probably wondered if you should go straight or right. At Mountain Road, you probably thought the trail ended opposite someone's house.
Now: From the South Overlook, turn very slightly RIGHT when coming through the stone wall and follow the steps down the ridge. I installed a wooden post in 2013 with a blaze to direct you in the correct direction, but someone took that post in 2014. Pay careful attention to the blazes as people have created numerous side trails that they unblock when I try to block them off.
East Rock Park is visible in the distance from the start of the Red Trail at the South Overlook. Turn very slightly right after passing through the wall to continue on the trail.


When you get to the bottom of the climb, turn sharply left to stay on the Red Trail. As you approach Common Ground High School, don't get confused by the White-Red Diamond Trail as the two trails overlap in places.
At the main entrance, turn left onto the road, and then RIGHT on the road at the sign board. At the switchback curve in the road, after you have crossed the Wilbur Cross Parkway, continue straight over the guardrail and stay straight when the stairs head left up the ridge.
At Lake Wintergreen, turn right down the hill and the trail leads up past the spillway and past the parking area.
At the Purple Trail, the Red Trail does a zig-zag across Wintergreen Brook and continues in a straight line out to Mountain Road. You can now follow all the many twists and turns between Mountain Road. The brush has been cleared back making the trail easier to follow, but still keeping it narrow, so you feel like you are in a green tunnel.
At Mountain Road, the blazes turn right onto the road, then left onto the gravel road and lead you out to Farm Brook Reservoir.
In 2015, with help from others and permission from the state, I moved the Red Trail into the woods near Farm Brook Reservoir, ending the mystery of following the trail through the impossible-to-blaze grassy open field. This required 85 hours of work on my part with 45 hours of help from others. The Red Trail crosses the Red-White Trail three times, and then ascends the ridge to a beautiful overlook of Farm Brook Reservoir. Just beyond this point, the Red Trail ends at the Blue Trail.

Red-White Trail (by Farm Brook Reservoir)
Then: It was an unmarked trail connecting the gravel road off Mountain Road to the unmarked trail heading up to the overlook of Farm Brook Reservoir. The footing beyond Farm Brook was uneven over unevenly installed rock stepping stones. The area was overun with bittersweet vines and prickly multi-flora rose bushes. Farm Brook was difficult to cross at peak water flows. The trail ended at the open field.
Now: It is a clearly marked trail connecting the gravel road (now blazed Red) off Mountain Road to the Red Trail heading up to the overlook of Farm Brook Reservoir, and then continuing through the woods to the Hill Street parking lot. The Red-White Trail crosses a narrow section of open field that volunteers opened up in 2015, and the state has been keeping open. A post on the pond end of the field makes it easier for users descending from the ridge to see where they are headed.
Thanks to Hamden Boy Scout Troop 608, there is a footbridge over the seasonal watercourse on the Red-White Trail near the pond. Boy Scout Sam Lynn supervised this bridge construction for his Eagle Scout Project in 2012. The scouts also placed down gravel at both ends of the bridge to provide a ramp (especially useful for bicycles), rather than having a sharp drop-off at both ends. Sam selected this project after reading through the wish list projects on this website. National Lumber, Fastenal, and his grandfather, Theodore R. Lynn, all donated materials and supplies. (Theodore B. Lynn is the president of the West Rock Ridge Park Association).
This project has been supplemented with additional gravel at the bridge and covering the stepping stones beyond the bridge, providing for dry, secure footing.
This footbridge constructed by Boy Scouts in 2012 on the Red-White Trail north of Farm Brook Reservoir makes it easier for people to cross Farm Brook, a seasonal watercourse that can run strongly after heavy rains, as seen in this picture in Dec. 2015.
Stepping stones covered with gravel provide dry, secure footing for trail users
on the Red-White Trail near the bridge over Farm Brook.
Red-White Trail (by Lake Wintergreen)
Then: An unmarked trail following the shore of Lake Wintergreen, looping off the Red Trail (also unmarked at that point).
Now: A marked trail through the rocks with the start and finish clearly marked.

North Summit Trail (Blue-Yellow Trail)
Then: A fellow hiker told me about this trail that runs from a small parking lot midway up Baldwin Drive down the slope into the Woodbridge trail system. Coming from Woodbridge, I had no luck finding the trail. Coming from the overlook, I only found the trail after I followed the Regicides Trail down from the paved road.
Now: I reblazed the entire trail, so it is clear to follow the entire way. I added a minor switchback, following the natural contours of the terrain to soften the descent.


The Regicides Trail starts at the stone wall by the pavilion at the South Overlook.
The large tree was removed after the photo was taken.

Regicides Trail
Then: Crews from the West Rock Ridge Park Association kept this trail in pretty good shape. The trail had been impacted particularly by the demise of hemlocks which were falling across the trail and blocking it. I had helped out on two work parties, plus reblazed the connection with the Sanford Feeder to make that junction more clear. Parts of the trail had uncertain footing, particularly on the climb to the junction with the Quinnipiac Trail.
Now: Since spring 2011, I have been the Trail Manager for the Regicides Trail for the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, so I have been leading work parties. With help from others, I put many hours of work to deal with a variety of issues, including reblazing the entire trail, and cutting back extensive overgrowth on this lightly-used trail. I also put down some stepping stones under the powerlines in the northern end of the park to keep the trail clearly marked in an area where the grass grows tall in the warm weather.
The trails crew has been helping me clear invasive plants at different places in the park, including along the Regicides Trail. A crew of college students from Quinnipiac University helped in April 2012 and April 2014 with removing some of the invasive Japanese honeysuckle vines that were smothering trees at the South Overlook, cut back the privet bushes at the start of the Red Trail, plus painted out graffiti on the pavilion.

The trails crew completed the first phase of a project to install stone steps on the Regicides Trail on the West Rock tunnel to provide secure footing in a steep area with loose rocks. The steps just north of the Orange Trail are nearly complete, as are the steps north of the Sanford Feeder Trail. This is intense work moving rocks that weigh between 150 and 300 pounds.

I have completed four relocations of the trail, most in 2014.
The first relocation is near Judges Cave. The trail used to follow the curve in the road by the cave, which is difficult to follow because it does not make sense, and because the area is open and hard to keep clear. Now it simply follows the paved road and re-enters the woods by a stone wall.
The second relocation is just north of the West Rock Tunnel. The trail passes by a historical airplane beacon near a woods road. When heading north, the trail used to follow the woods road a short distance, and then hikers had to vault over the guard rail and slide down a scree slope to a muddy patch of trail. The trail now crosses the woods road and parallels the woods road through a pleasant stretch of woods and avoids the muddy patch.
The third relocation is at the junction with the Orange Trail, which was also slightly relocated. The Orange and Blue Trail used to cross just before Baldwin Drive with the Orange Trail, ending at the road, essentially stranding hikers, while the Blue Trail crossed the road at a sharp angle. Now they continue across the road almost to the Konolds Pond overlook where the Orange Trail ends, and the Blue Trail turns north. With this relocation, the Orange Trail has a clear destination and the Blue Trail comes within view of an overlook that it previously missed.
The fourth relocation is near the stone shack midway up Baldwin Drive. The trail formerly went out to the road by the stone shack and followed the road for about 100 yards before re-entering the woods. Now the trail stays entirely within the woods where it belongs.
The final relocation is at the northern end of the Regicides Trail where it meets the Quinnipiac Trail. After crossing the Sanford Feeder, the Regicides Trail passes two large glacial erratic boulders and then drops down into a valley before making the ascent to the Quinnipiac Trail. The end portion of the climb used to be straight up with lots of slippery trap rock. Now the final climb is a series of switchbacks that are steep in spots, but with generally good footing and handholds. As a bonus, you get a view over the nearby valley, which could not be seen from the original trail.
To give a sense of the time involved, I surveyed and walked this quarter-mile section of the trail with Wayne Fogg, a trail supervisor for the Connecticut Forest and Park Association. I returned on three subsequent trips to prune back the trail, blaze it, and move brush around to both block off the old trail, and direct people to stay along the new trail in open areas where the path may not be clear. Total time was about 20 hours.
Future: I would like to clear out some of the loose trap rock that can make hiking this trail slippery at times. No other relocations are needed or planned.


The Regicides Trail formerly had a steep, eroded climb with poor footing that headed straight up the ridge to its junction with the Quinnipiac Trail. This climb has been abandoned and replaced with a switchback.

On the relocated section of the Regicides Trail approaching the Quinnipiac Trail, the climbs are safer and more manageable, while also protecting the trail from erosion.
Sanford Feeder
Then: While leading a hike on this trail I noticed that the blazes were completely gone. Since it crosses a number of woods roads, the path of the trail is not always obvious.
There were many invasive species along the trail, particularly winged euonymus and Japanese barberry.
There is a low spot where footing is frequently wet and squishy.
Now: With help from fellow hiker Polly Buckley who showed me the way the trail REALLY went, I reblazed the trail, so it is clear to follow.
The Sanford Feeder trail follows the path of Sanford Road, and crosses over the Sanford Gap, one of the two low places along the ridge (the other being the gap over the West Rock Tunnel, or Heroes Tunnel). Sanford Road is indicated on some maps as being a through street, but it not. This gravel road crosses water company property and is blocked by a gate at Brooks Road in Bethany, and West Shepard Ave. in Hamden. Vehicle access is limited to emergency personnel and the Regional Water Authority.
I have cut pulled and cut many of the invasive shrubs along the trail.
In August 2016, the Regional Water Authority installed two culverts to channel water under the trail and also placed down additional gravel. I am grateful that they made this improvement, which I had requested.

Westville Feeder
Then: The trail was reasonably well marked, although the markings were much more obvious heading south than heading north.
Now: I reblazed the trail from the ballfield in Westville until its junction with the Regicides Trail. I added blazes where they were needed, particularly by the unmarked parallel trails. With permission from the New Haven Parks Department, I extended the blazes to the bridge at the West River, which makes finding this trail much easier for people parking at the lot at Valley and Blake streets.
I also removed about 300 winged euonymous, commonly known as burning bush, that were overpopulating the area, and crowding out native species. There are many more to remove. View this link for the problem of this plant: http://www.hort.uconn.edu/cipwg/pdfs/burning_bush.pdf
This is the official start of the Westville Feeder near the ballfield in Westville. Note the Blue Blaze with a Yellow Tail. Also note that this trail is closed to ATVs and bicycles.

Teal Trail
Then: Faded dark blue blazes could occasionally be seen along this trail that was extremely obvious in places and impossible to follow in other areas. 
Now: I selected Teal is the best color for restoring this trail with blazes because the color is not used in the park, and it is clearly visible. I blazed this one-mile long trail in spring 2012, which provides users with an easy-to-follow loop out of the Westville area. The trail is blazed Teal White from the Teal Trail down to the bridge at the West River, providing hikers with a complete and marked loop.

Invasive species
Then: Vines covered trees near the Lake Wintergreen parking area and along the Red Trail. Autumn olive and multi-flora rose grow in many places, choking off native species.
Now: I’m making progress in stopping some of the damaged caused by the vines and have taken down some autumn olive to give native species a chance to grow. I have also cut back some of the multi-flora rose that hang across the trail, threatening to grab and scratch up trail users.
There are far fewer bittersweet vines along the Red-White Trail near Farm Brook Reservoir.
The picture shows autumn olive starting to make its mark near Judges Cave.
I cut this one down in 2011. It has NOT regrown.

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