Squantz Pond State Park
|Squantz Pond State Park|
|Connecticut State Park|
|Elevation||459 ft (140 m) |
|Area||172 acres (70 ha) |
|Management||Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection|
|Website: Squantz Pond State Park|
Squantz Pond State Park is a Connecticut state park located 10 miles (16 km) north of Danbury in the town of New Fairfield. The park sits on the southwestern shore of Squantz Pond and offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking and boating. The park is bordered to the west by Pootatuck State Forest.
In 1724, colonial settlers from Fairfield, Connecticut received approval from the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut to establish a new township. According to one account, they negotiated with Chief Squantz of the Schaghticoke tribe of Algonquian lineage. Alternatively, it is told that they did not negotiate with Chief Squantz because he moved to the north end of Squantz Pond land area and refused to sell the township of New Fairfield. They returned in the Spring of 1725, but found that Chief Squantz had died during the Winter. His four sons and heirs refused to sign the deeds. It was not until four years later that the settlers called "The Proprietors" finally got the drawn marks of several other native people who may not have had authority to sell the land. They purchased a 31,000 acre tract of land that is now New Fairfield and Sherman, for the equivalent of about 300 dollars and on April 24, 1729, The deed was recorded on May 9, 1729, and is now deposited in the archives of the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.
Squantz Pond State Park takes its name from Chief Squantz. The lake is separated from Candlewood Lake by the Route 39 causeway. Before becoming a state park, the area around Squantz Pond was also a farm and an apple orchard. Despite many changes to the land, the presence of the original residents is still marked by occasionally uncovered artifacts such as stone adzes, mallets and other tools. The remains of an Indian canoe over 22 feet long and 5 feet wide was raised from the bottom of the lake, leading to speculation that even before the settlers came, Squantz Pond may have been much larger than it was just prior to its expansion during the flooding of Candlewood Lake.
Activities and amenities
The park offers swimming, fishing, and scuba diving as well as a launch for motorized boating. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available. The park's hiking trails grant access to the adjacent Pootatuck State Forest. The park also has picnicking facilities and a nature center.
From the west side, the main trail starts from the north end of the picnic area; it follows the edges of the lake’s western shoreline for 2 miles to a peninsula that juts out into the lake (and has an unobstructed view of the entire lake). The lake is always visible, so there is no fear of getting lost.
A green trail travels north to Worden Brook and then head southwest, passing the northern end of the yellow trail, and turns to heads eastward to the southern part of the yellow trail which continues east to bring you back to the outgoing green trail. A shortcut can be had to shorten the green trail circular walk by taking the yellow trail south when it first appears.
An unmarked trail goes along the west shoreline of Squantz Pond. Some old reddish-brown markers can still be seen. But the trail is easy enough to follow because it parallels the shoreline. It is mostly a hemlock laden area with quite a few rapidly flowing streams splashing down to the lake. There are also many interesting rock formations. A little less than half-way there is a nice open area and a rock on which you can stand and look back at the beach at Squantz Pond State Park. (Also along the way, a red-blazed trail comes down the steep grade from Pootatuck Mountain.) This trail ends near Worden Brook where a bushwhack South leads to the main trail.
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection began keeping records on drownings at Connecticut state parks in 1996 and since then 15 people have died at Squantz Pond State Park.
In July 2007, DEP officials made "the Rocks" off limits to beachgoers. In response to the drownings and pressure from local officials, the state announced plans to reduce the parking capacity of the park from about 500 cars to about 250, and to post signs on nearby Interstate 84 announcing if the park has reached capacity. Officials said the reduced capacity would help DEP prevent swimming outside of authorized areas.
On Labor Day 2007, an 18-year-old man from Queens, N.Y., became the third drowning victim of 2007 at about 1 p.m. at East Beach, an area that was not protected by lifeguards because the state DEP believed the drowning danger to be lower than other sections of the park.
In June 2008, DEP unveiled several improvements to the park designed to improve the safety of swimmers. The designated beach swimming area was enlarged and clearly marked to make it more attractive to swimmers, trees were removed to improve the sight lines of on-duty lifeguards, and a dock was installed for a patrol boat.
The other Squantz Pond victims drowned in the areas known as "the Rocks" and the unroped section of "Squantz Cove" that are outside the designated swimming area. These areas also were not protected by lifeguards.
- "Squantz Pond State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee (January 23, 2014). "State Parks and Forests: Funding" (PDF). Staff Findings and Recommendations. Connecticut General Assembly. p. A-3. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- "Squantz Pond State Park". State Parks and Forests. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- Simon, Irving B. (1975). Our Town: The History of New Fairfield. New Fairfield, Connecticut: New Fairfield Bicentennial Commission. p. 5.
- "State restricts Squantz Pond access". The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). July 12, 2007. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "Man drowns at Squantz Pond". The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). September 2, 2007. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "Third drowning at Squantz Pond 'a tragic end to the summer'". The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). September 3, 2007. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "Crews prepare for Squantz Pond swimming season". The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). May 15, 2008. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- Hutson, Nanci (May 29, 2012). "Squantz Pond drownings reduced with extra vigilance: more information". The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). Retrieved 2013-01-25. — list of drowning victims
- "Record number drown at park". The News-Times (Danbury, Conn.). December 29, 2007. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- Squantz Pond State Park Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Squantz Pond State Park Map Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection