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Sunday, February 10, 2019

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.

(This website was started on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010.
The most recent update took place Sunday, February 10, 2019.)

The photo at the top from Jan. 30, 2019 shows a small waterfall descending from the cliffs above the Red-White Trail where it parallels the field by Farm Brook Reservoir.

January 2019 Storm Report
Connecticut experienced an ice storm in mid-January 2019 that brought down tree limbs and branches. I walked a circuit from the Hill Street parking lot south to the Yellow Trail and back. There was scattered storm damage along the way, which I cleared with help from a friend. I suspect others parts of the park have similar minor issues. A friend reported the Gold, Orange, and Red Trail (by Lake Wintergreen) were fine. There was a tree across the Red-White Trail near the Field of Dreams and another across the Regicides Trail north of the Red Trail. These have been reported to the state, which will clear them. If park users feel comfortable moving branches off the trail, please do so. Report any big problems to the state at 203-287-5658.

Download a West Rock map from the state website
Before heading out into the woods, be sure to download a map of West Rock from the state website. When I read negative comments about the park on websites like Trip Advisor and Yelp from people who have trouble finding their way, it is obvious they did not bring a map with them. 
Link for a full-color printable map: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrockparkmap.pdf
Link to the GPS friendly map, which can be used on a smart phone: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrockgps.pdf 

Regicide Drive Closed to Cars for the Season
The gate to the main entrance at 1134 Wintergreen Ave., New Haven, which provides access to Regicide Drive leading to Judges Cave and the South Overlook closed for the season on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018.
The gate will reopen at 8 a.m. on May 25, 2019, which is the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. This is a good time of year for bicyclists and walkers to enjoy the road without having to watch out for cars.
The other parking areas are readily available 8 a.m. to dusk with the nearest and best choice being the Lake Wintergreen parking lot, 40 Main St., Hamden.

New Pages
I added two new pages in late December 2018: West Rock News Updates and Elements of Trail Maintenance. I had too much news to share and it was cluttering this opening page, so I created the first page. I finally found the time to write up my thoughts on trail maintenance and thus created the second page.

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.

State Parks by Size
* 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 Colis P. Huntington State Park in Redding/Bethel. The park name is a coincidence, as it was named for its wealthy donor.