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Friday, June 14, 2019

Welcome to the West Rock Trails website

West Rock Ridge State Park is located in Hamden and New Haven, Connecticut (with small portions 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 Friday, June 14, 2019.)

The photo at the top from April 2019 shows four rocks along the Teal Trail near its junction with the Westville Feeder Trail. These rocks split off from the cliff some time over winter 2018 and tumbled down to the trail where they came to rest. There are scrape marks on the trees to mark their passage.

Sleeping Giant State Park Reopened Friday, June 14, 2019
Sleeping Giant State Park reopened Friday, June 14, 2019, a year and a month after it was devastated by a microburst on May 15, 2019. By sheer number of visitors, Sleeping Giant is probably by far the most popular state park for hiking. One question I have not seen in the media regarding the storm and subsequent clean-up is this: Why did the state have to depend so heavily on volunteers from the Sleeping Giant Park Association (SGPA) to clear storm damage from along the trails? The state did hire a contractor to clear out the parking and picnic areas, as well as the Tower Path. One would think that with such a popular state park that the state could find the money to hire a contractor to have the trails cleared by a paid crew, thereby opening up the park months earlier? According to the press release below, 75% of the clean-up costs will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 
On a related note, the town of Wallingford opened up the storm-damaged Tyler Mill Preserve on May 25, 2019.

News Articles about the reopening: 

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:
Link to the GPS friendly map, which can be used on a smart phone: 

Regicide Drive Open 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 opened for the season on Saturday, May 25, 2019. The gate will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.

New Pages and Revised 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.
In June 2019, I added a number of new postcards with some current views of those areas to the "West Rock Historical Postcards" 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.