A view north from the ridge overlooking Konold's Pond, October 2010. A small section of Konold's Pond is visible to the left.
Links for Maps and Trails
- The state website for West Rock Ridge State Park: http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325276
- The direct link for the West Rock trail map, which was updated July 2014, so make sure you have the latest version: http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/westrock.pdf
- The general page for information about all state parks and forests: www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325088&depNav_GID=1650&depNav=|
- The state has a program called No Child Left Inside®, which involves programs and activities at state parks, designed to get families outside and moving. The name is a play on words for the No Child Left Behind program, which had an unintended consequence of limiting outdoors time for children at school in a quest for higher test scores. Much research has shown the direct link between physical activity and its benefits for learning. West Rock is sometimes part of one of the seasonal themed activities. Website: http://www.ct.gov/ncli/site/default.asp.
- Rich Coffey, a dedicated member of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA), has posted an interactive map of West Rock, based on the 2010 state map, at http://www.vizettes.com/kt/bikemaps/westrock/index.htm
- Rich also created a smart phone map at http://vizettes.com/kt/bikemaps/westrock/mobile/
- Note that these maps do not show some of the updates to the trails since 2010. Details on those updates are available at http://westrocktrails.blogspot.com/p/trail-map-updates.html
- There is a letterbox at West Rock. Complete information about the letterbox (but no map), including instructions about how and where to find it is listed here: http://bikeitorhikeit.org/west_rock_ridge_state_park_letterbox.htm
- Rock climbing information at West Rock is posted at this website: http://www.mountainproject.com/scripts/Classics.php?id=108368529
- The Blue-Yellow-blazed North Summit Trail that descends into Woodbridge connects a network of about 15 miles of Woodbridge Trails. Maps for hiking trails in the greater New Haven area were updated in June 2016 by the South Central Regional Council of Governments, and are available at http://scrcog.org/regional-planning/regional-trails/. Simply click on the name of the town for the list of maps in that town to appear. The trails adjacent to West Rock are called Bishop Estate East and Darling House Trails.
- The Woodbridge trails are interconnected with different properties owned by the South Central Regional Water Authority. The RWA sells an annual permit that allows access to the trails on their lands. Trails near West Rock include Lake Bethany and Lake Chamberlain. These maps are available at the Regional Council website listed above. Website: http://www.rwater.com/products-and-services/recreation/
|The West River, south of Lake Bethany on the Regional Water Authority's property, provides a scenic view not far from West Rock.|
- The Connecticut Forest and Park Association manages the 825 miles of Blue-Blazed Trails in Connecticut, including three trails at West Rock (the Regicides, Westville Feeder, and Sanford Feeder), and advocates for land preservation and conservation. The CFPA trail book, The Connecticut Walk Book is the comprehensive guide to the Blue-Blazed Trails. The books may be purchased directly from CFPA or at bookstores and places that sell outdoors equipment. CFPA website: www.ctwoodlands.org
- The CFPA has an interactive map of all Blue Trails, which includes parking information. Be sure to click "Show Parking" in the upper right corner of the map. Website: http://www.ctwoodlands.org/blue-blazed-hiking-trails/blue-blazed-hiking-trails-interactive-map
- The Regicides Trail ends at the Quinnipiac Trail, which is a 20-mile trail that connects West Rock to Sleeping Giant State Park and the Naugatuck Forest, both of which are in Hamden, and to Roaring Brook Falls in Cheshire. Maps are available in the Connecticut Walk Book. The Quinnipiac Trail from Brooks Road in Bethany to Paradise Avenue in Hamden may be found on the West Rock map. The portion that passes through Sleeping Giant is included on that state park map. The Quinnipiac Trail and the Sanford Alternate Trail in the Naugatuck State Forest are included on the state forest map. The links are indicated below. The CPFA abandoned the trail in Quinnipiac Meadows State Park in 2014.
- Sleeping Giant State Park, 200 Mount Carmel Ave., off Rt. 10 is the other major state park in Hamden, with 32-miles of hiking trails and a historic stone observation tower. The park is 3 miles north of Rt. 15, Exit 61 or 9.5 miles south of I-691, Exit 3. State website: http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?A=2716&Q=325264
- The Sleeping Giant Park Association was formed in 1924 to protect the park, and continues to maintain the trails and advocate for the park. Website: http://www.sgpa.org
|A clear view of the Sleeping Giant can be seen from the Red Trail at West Rock from this outcrop midway up the ascent. Use a zoom lens or binoculars to enjoy a close view like this shot taken in March 2015.|
- There are miles of hiking and biking trails at the Naugatuck State Forest in Hamden (Mount Sanford Block), including the Quinnipiac Trail. I blazed the White and Yellow Trails in the forest. A CFPA volunteer maintains the Quinnipiac Trail and the Quinnipiac Connector Trail. These CFPA trails are closed to bicycles. The Naugatuck State Forest is adjacent to Brooksvale Park in Hamden, although the Brooksvale Park trails are poorly marked: www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/stateparks/maps/naugatuckmtsanford.pdf.
- Directions: From Rt. 15, Exit 59, take Rt. 69 North for 7.8 miles. Look for the brown sign for “Broken Arrow Nursery” just before the turn. Right on Gaylord Mtn. Road for 1.1 miles, then left on Downs Road to the end. From I-84, take Exit 23 to Rt. 69 South for 7.7 miles. Left on Gaylord Mtn. Rd. for 1.1 miles, then left on Downs Rd. to the end. GPS cautions: Downs Rd. is NOT a through road, so if your GPS tries to take you directly from Rt. 69 North to Downs Rd., ignore it. From Rt. 69 South, it is 1 mile south of Rt. 42 and the first left turn from that direction. From Rt. 69 North, if you reach Rt. 42, you went too far.
|The Naugatuck State Forest, off Downs Road, is another hiking destination in Hamden. The Farmington Canal Trail is visible in pink at right.|
- The Farmington Canal Rail Trail is paved rail trail that runs from New Haven to the Massachusetts border (and beyond) with incomplete sections in Cheshire, Southington, and Plainville. The trail parallels West Rock in Hamden. From West Rock, the trail is most easily accessed from behind the shopping center on Dixwell Ave. (Rt. 10), across from Benham Street, near Rt. 15, Exit 60. A map of the Hamden section of the trail may be found at www.scrcog.org/documents/trails/Trail%20Map-Hamden_Farmington.pdf.
- The Rails to Trails Conservancy information page for the Farmington Canal Trail: www.traillink.com/trail/farmington-canal-heritage-trail-.aspx.
- The Farmington Valley Trails Council oversees the trail north of Plainville. The website is here: http://www.fvgreenway.org/pages/default.asp.
- Open Street Map is a website where anyone can upload trails information. Someone has mapped most of the trails at West Rock. Website: www.openstreetmap.org/
- Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online http://cteco.uconn.edu/index.htm provides a number of maps, including contour maps, geology maps, flood zones, and assorted aerial maps, plus an overview of properties owned by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). This is the direct link to the Hamden page, which covers all of West Rock, even the parts in other towns: http://cteco.uconn.edu/map_catalog.asp?town=62
- Geology page direct link: http://cteco.uconn.edu/map_catalog/maps/town/QuatGeol/Quaternary_Geology_Hamden.pdf
- DEEP properties direct link: http://cteco.uconn.edu/map_catalog/maps/town/DEPProp/DEEPProp_Hamden.pdf
- Contour map of north Hamden and surrounding towns: http://cteco.uconn.edu/map_catalog/maps/town/Contour_Map/Contour_Map_North_Hamden.pdf
- Contour map south Hamden and the New Haven portion of West Rock: http://cteco.uconn.edu/map_catalog/maps/town/Contour_Map/Contour_Map_North_Hamden.pdf
- Soil map of Hamden and surrounding towns: http://cteco.uconn.edu/map_catalog/maps/town/Soil/Soil_Hamden.pdf
Links for Outdoors Clubs
- The Central Connecticut chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA) has a section in which NEMBA Trail Ambassadors report trail conditions throughout Connecticut, including West Rock. I am a Trail Ambassador and will file postings on this site as well at http://ctnemba.blogspot.com/. Scroll down and look for Trail Reports on the right. NEMBA also organizes mountain bike rides, some of which take place at West Rock.
- The Appalachian Mountain Club organizes hikes, bicycle rides, and kayak trips, some of which take place at West Rock. The AMC also donated money to help fund trail improvements. Website: www.ct-amc.org
- The New Haven Hiking Club organizes hikes, bicycle rides, and kayak trips. Some of the hikes take place at West Rock. The club also donates money every year to the West Rock Ridge Association. The club has also directly donated money to fund park improvements. Website: www.nhhc.info
- Sound Cyclists Bicycle Club is a Fairfield County-based club, which organizes bicycle rides, some of which occasionally take place within and around West Rock. Sound Cyclists donated money to help fund trail improvements. Website: www.soundcyclists.com
- Southern Connecticut Bicycle Club is a New Haven County based bicycling club, which offers organized bicycle rides during the warmer weather, and walks during the cooler weather.
- Website: http://www.ctcycle.org/
- Elm City Cycling is a New Haven-based bicycling advocacy organization. Website: https://elmcitycycling.org/
- The New Haven Bird Club is a local resource for birding information and walks. Website: http://www.newhavenbirdclub.com/
- The Connecticut Butterfly Association hosts monthly walks around Connecticut, including some at West Rock. Website: http://ctbutterfly.org/
Links for General Information
- The Wikipedia entry for West Rock Ridge State Park: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Rock_Ridge_State_Park
- The Wikipedia entry for West Rock Ridge (the geological formation): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Rock
- The Wikipedia entry for the Regicides Trail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regicides_Trail
- The text of the state law that created West Rock is located here. This law also states that the DEEP has the right of first refusal to buy property within the West Rock Ridge conservation area: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2003/ba/2003HB-05793-R000465-BA.htm
- There is an excellent article on West Rock in the book A Shared Landscape: A Guide and History of Connecticut State Parks and Forests, written by Joseph Leary. Friends of Connecticut State Parks commissioned Joe to write this book. The book can be purchased (or ordered) from any bookstore. This is the link to the DEEP store: http://www.ctdeepstore.com/A-Shared-Landscape-31.htm
- The Hartford Courant publishes a weekly column by Peter Marteka called Nature's Path and Way to Go, which is about hiking areas in Connecticut. This was his column from Feb. 2012 on West Rock. Note that the map link in the article is outdated. The correct map link is found at the top of this webpage. http://articles.courant.com/2012-02-02/news/hc-marteka-west-rock-ridge-0203-20120202_1_traprock-ridge-forests-mountains
- The state produced a comprehensive report on its parks and forests for the Connecticut General Assembly on Jan. 30, 2014, called State Parks and Forests: Funding. The report highlights the benefits of the parks and forests, and discusses the problems caused by chronic underfunding and understaffing of parks by the General Assembly. Appendix A of the report is a list of State Forest and Parks, including the town(s) in which they are located, their acreage, and their facilities. This report states that West Rock is 1,691 acres. Website link at http://www.cga.ct.gov/pri/docs/2013/State%20Parks%20and%20Forests%20Funding%20Staff%20Findings%20and%20Recommendations%20.pdf
Raspberry plants grown in clusters, with berries ready to pick, in July 2014, adjacent to the trailhead for the Red Trail at the South Overlook.
Links for Outdoors Organizations
- The West Rock Ridge Park Association has a website at: http://westrockpark.wordpress.com/. The website has information about the park's history. The association publishes a newsletter in the spring and fall with information about the park's history, geography, plants, and animals. The association was responsible for the legislation getting the park preserved in the first place, and also advocates for completion of the park through the purchase of additional land. The association has identified about another 100 acres of land that could be added, when the land is listed for sale, and if the state has the money to complete the purchase.
|Raspberry plants grown in clusters, with berries ready to pick, in July 2014, adjacent to the trailhead for the Red Trail at the South Overlook.|
Links for Outdoors Organizations
Regrettably, in recent years the state has passed on the purchase of land, saying it does not have the money and has other land acquisition priorities across the state. If you would like to join the association, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Friends of Connecticut State Parks advocates for the parks. Website: http://www.friendsctstateparks.org/FCSP/Welcome.html
- The DEEP has a division called No Child Left Inside, which organizes activities to get families outdoors and involved with activities in state parks. Website: http://www.ct.gov/ncli/site/default.asp
- The City of New Haven owns the 43-acre West Rock Nature Center on Wintergreen Avenue, near the main entrance to the state park. The name is a bit outdated, since the building with its collection of animals (most famously a mountain lion) no longer operates as a nature center. Instead, it operates as a seasonal outdoor center that is open for special programs and summer camps. The entry road to the upper parking lot is open only when these programs are taking place. The lower parking lot has mostly been blocked off by barriers to curtail the illegal dumping that was an ongoing problem. There may be room adjacent to the barriers to parallel park two cars, otherwise park on Tierney Road in Hamden, located between the nature center and the main entrance of West Rock. The nature center trails are open to hiking from sunrise to sunset. The website is: www.cityofnewhaven.com/Parks/ParksInformation/westrockpark.asp. The direct link for the map with hiking trails is http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/Parks/ParksInformation/media/2008WRNCMap.pdf.
|Download a high-quality PDF copy of the West Rock Nature Center map|
from the New Haven Parks Department at the web link listed above.
Use this lower-resolution JPG version for online reference only.
- Common Ground High School, an environmentally-themed charter school, is located on the former New Haven parks property at 358 Springside Avenue, adjacent to West Rock. Among its features are a working farm that sells produce at area farmers markets and also feeds students in the school cafeteria. Website: http://commongroundct.org/
- Common Ground has extensive community programs, including hikes and farm activities. Some events are free, while others have a fee. The link for this calendar of events is here: http://commongroundct.org/environmental-center/community-programs/
- The Hamden Land Conservation Trust owns 12.2 acres of open space properties in Hamden and has conservation easements on 53.5 acres of property. The trust leads guided hikes on 102.5 acres of property owned by a corporation, land that is otherwise closed to the public: http://www.hlct.org/index.html
- The Woodbridge Park Association is the land trust for Woodbridge, which owns open space properties in Woodbridge, in particular, Alice Newton Street Park, and Newton Road Park. Website: http://woodbridgeparks.org/
- The Bethany Land Trust owns a number of open space properties in Bethany, the largest of which are the 125-acre Mendell's Folly, off Rt. 42. Website: http://www.bethanylandtrust.org/
- The Ragged Mountain Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization with a focus on rock climbing, particularly at Ragged Mountain in Berlin, Southington, and New Britain. Website: http://www.raggedmtn.org/home.html The RMF did an extensive clean-up at West Rock in April 2013, the results of which can be viewed here: http://raggedmtn.org/overlook/west-rock-adopt-a-crag-recap/ Their efforts are greatly appreciated!
- The Mountain Project is a website with information about rock climbing. This is the West Rock overview page: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/west-rock-state-park/108368529 and this page lists specific information about particular climbs: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/west-rock-state-park/108368529
- South Youth is an New Haven-based organization that uses West Rock, and built a trail at the park connecting Wintergreen Avenue to the Red Trail. www.solaryouth.com
- The Connecticut Forest and Park Association has 10 videos on the Blue-Blazed Trails called Tales from the Trails. This website writer is featured in the video about the Regicides Trail. The link for all the videos may be found at this website: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEoFZjsbJiLMw7Kq7yS3PEaRuhCxnJbgm. This is the direct link for the Regicides Trail video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKIWTBZN80c
- West Rock Ridge is the subject of two videos published in fall 2014 by the Long Island Sound Study (LISS). West Rock, which has views of the Sound from multiple overlooks, is one of 33 areas designed as Stewardship Areas by the LISS. According to the LISS website, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and the states of New York and Connecticut formed the LISS in 1985, as “a bi-state partnership consisting of federal and state agencies, user groups, concerned organizations, and individuals dedicated to restoring and protecting the Sound. These videos have been uploaded to YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/LIShealth/videos. In the West Rock video, filmed in July 2014 I am interviewed, talking about the ecological significance of West Rock Ridge. Also talking is Georgia Basso, coastal program wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and liaison to the Long Island Sound Study. Thanks to Steve Broker, teacher, scientist and bird expert, and member of the West Rock Ridge Park Association, who provided the information I shared in the video. Steve was unavailable the day the video was filmed. The other West Rock video focuses on the Common Ground Environmental Center Summer Camp, located at the base of West Rock.
- WCVB, Channel 5 in Boston, produced a video about Connecticut State Parks in 2012. West Rock is featured in this video from 3:39 to 5:02. Website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jS4_bsvLSzE The second part of the video does not discuss West Rock, but those wishing to see the complete presentation may find part 2 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_JFYWBDPf
Mountain laurel is a dazzling June attraction at West Rock,
as seen on the Regicides Trail in 2014.
Mountain laurel is a dazzling June attraction at West Rock,
as seen on the Regicides Trail in 2014.
as seen on the Regicides Trail in 2014.