West Rock Ridge State Park
|West Rock Ridge State Park|
|Connecticut State Park|
Judges' Cave at West Rock Ridge State Park
|Towns||Hamden, Woodbridge, Bethany|
|Elevation||318 ft (97 m) |
|Prominence||627 ft (191 m) |
|Area||1,691 acres (684 ha) |
|Management||Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection|
|Website: West Rock Ridge State Park|
West Rock Ridge State Park is a state park located in New Haven, Hamden, and Woodbridge, Connecticut. It is named for the 400-to-700-foot (120 to 210 m) trap rock West Rock Ridge, which is part of the Metacomet Ridge extending from Long Island Sound to the Vermont border. The ridge consists largely of diabase, much like its sister formation East Rock. The park offers recreational trails, car-top boating, and 7 miles (11 km) of open west-facing cliffs with vistas encompassing Metropolitan New Haven and suburban towns to the west. The park includes Judges Cave, a colonial era historic site; Lake Wintergreen; and the 7-mile (11 km) Regicides Trail, part of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association's Blue Trail system. West Rock Ridge State Park is part of a larger area of protected open space including state, municipal, and non-profit owned land.
- See also: West Rock Ridge
West Rock Ridge runs north-northwest out of New Haven and forms the boundary between the towns of Woodbridge and Hamden. It is bordered by Konolds Pond, Lake Dawson, and Lake Watrous on its western flank and by Lake Wintergreen on its eastern flank and is 6 miles (9.7 km) long. The South Overlook, located at the southern end of the park, offers views to the west, south and east, including Sleeping Giant State Park, East Rock Park topped by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the city of New Haven, including the harbor, Long Island Sound, and Long Island.
The West Rock Tunnel (designated since 2003 as the Heroes Tunnel to honor first responders like EMTs, fire and police officers) was bored through West Rock in order to make passage for the Wilbur Cross Parkway.
In the 17th century, West Rock served as the hideout for Edward Whalley and his son-in-law, Gen. William Goffe, two of the three "regicide judges" whom New Haven honors by streets bearing their surnames ( ). They had fled England, anticipating prosecution under King Charles II in the execution of his father Charles I, to New Haven; the rock shelter hideout used by the two is now called Judges Cave. The Regicides Trail is also named with this history in mind.
West Rock Ridge State Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset; recreational uses include hiking, bicycling, fishing, car-top boating, horseback riding, dog walking, picnicking, cross-country skiing, rock climbing and other passive pursuits. A park road to Judges Cave and South Overlook are open to vehicle traffic, in season. No access fees are charged to use the park or park roads. Mountain bikes and horseback riding are permitted on certain trails. Power boats, hunting, and ice skating are prohibited in the park. Baldwin Drive, spanning the ridge crest north of Judges Cave, is open to non-motorized use only. Park amenities include picnic tables and a pavilion at South Overlook.
There are 21 miles (34 km) of blazed trails in the park. Primary trails include the 7-mile (11 km) Regicides Trail, which runs along the ridgecrest; the Red Trail which runs the length of the park at the east base of West Rock Ridge, and the White Trail, which passes along the shore of Lake Wintergreen. A network of shorter trails pass between these main routes. Other trails enter the park through adjacent municipal, nonprofit-owned, and private land.
The park's main trailhead and parking area is located at Lake Wintergreen on Wintegreen Avenue in Hamden. Other trailheads and parking areas are located on Hill Street, Mountain Road, Connecticut Route 69, and within the park at Judges Cave and South Overlook.
- "West Rock Ridge State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "West Rock Ridge State Park". Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee (January 23, 2014). "State Parks and Forests: Funding" (PDF). Staff Findings and Recommendations. Connecticut General Assembly. p. A-4. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Wittemann, Betsy (October 19, 2003). "A road by any other name . . .". New York Times.
- Connecticut Walk West. 19th Edition. The Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Rockfall, Connecticut. 2006.
- Farnsworth, Elizabeth J. "Metacomet-Mattabesett Trail Natural Resource Assessment.", 2004. PDF file. Cited Nov. 20, 2007.[dead link]