The silhouette of the Sleeping Giant is unmistakable and unforgettable, best seen from I-91 around exit 9, looking north. The area's Native Americans called the giant Hobbomock, and Sleeping Giant State Park encompasses his whole body, approximately 1500 acres of woods in Hamden along the Wallingford town line.
Thirteen trails totaling over 30 miles of hiking crisscross the Giant, offering something for just about everybody. Talk to any long-time residents about going to Sleeping Giant, and watch their faces light up as they tell you their favorite trails and hidden places: the Cascades waterfall, the quarry, the castle, the dam.
The best place to start your first hike on the Giant is with the Tower Path. This broad, switch-backed trail winds up 1.6 miles and about 700 feet in elevation to the lookout castle. Along the way, a myriad of large boulders provide seating to rest or enjoy the scenery.
Everyone takes the Tower Path at some point. On a typical day, you'll see joggers, college students, couples with children and/or dogs, senior citizens, Boy and Girl Scouts and maybe even the guy from down the street. Expect everyone you pass to greet you, and if you've got a dog, most likely they'll stop to talk. Something about the clean air and quiet atmosphere of Sleeping Giant seems to bring out the best in people.
All the Tower Path's ascents are gentle. The trail is wide and graveled, a beautiful, moderate walk in the spring, summer or fall. Use common sense. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing, bring water and bug spray, watch out for wildlife. There are no toilet facilities or trashcans at the top or along the trails so be prepared to carry out everything you brought in. Dogs are welcome but must be on leashes.
At the top of the Tower Path is the reward: a stone observation tower, fashioned like a castle, atop the Giant's left hip, offering a wonderful view of New Haven, Long Island Sound, West Rock and East Rock. Divided into small rooms over four floors connected by a ramp, this final bit of climb is worth it just for the clear view-the Giant's ridges are unmarred by radio and cell phone towers. If you brought a camera, be sure to save some exposures for the castle.
If you're looking for something a little more challenging than a gentle ascent on a broad trail, many of the more difficult trails cross or connect to the Tower Path, such as the Red Circle and Blue Trail. From the far side of the picnic area, by the river, you can pick up the Blue Trail, the Violet Trail and the Red Diamond. The Red Diamond leads to the old trap-rock quarry on the Giant's head. The Blue Trail, the most challenging trail of the park, winds up and along the edge of the quarry, offering spectacular views to the brave and sure-footed. The quarry, which closed in 1933, is visible from Route 10 as a cliff of reddish-brown rock. The Red Circle trail will take you to the Cascades, the Violet Trail to the Mill River and the dam.
Sleeping Giant offers hikes and activities for just about any fitness level. You can walk slowly partway up the Tower Path or create a strenuous multi-mile hike across intersecting trails. Have a picnic before or after your hike. Cool your tired feet in the Mill River near the trout fisherman. Or just sit on a rock and watch the people go by.
The Sleeping Giant Association website at www.sgpa.org offers free downloadable maps and information on the park. Printed maps are also available at the base of the Tower Path by the parking area. A large scale map is permanently mounted there for reference.
The Sleeping Giant trail system has been rated as a "National Recreation Trail" by the Secretary of the Interior. According to the National Park Service, "National recreation trails recognize existing trails that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life." The Blue Trail is part of the Quinnipiac Trail and the state-wide blue-blazed trail system.
Sleeping Giant State Park
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to sunset.
Parking fee: $7 on weekends and holidays, year round parking passes available.
Facilities: Trout fishing, picnicking (fireplaces, pavilion, tables, restrooms), hiking, horse trails, rock climbing, self-guided nature trail, 14 guided group hikes per year, cross-country skiing. No bicycles or motorized vehicles of any type are permitted.
Highway Access: I-91 Exit. 10 or Rte. 15 Exit. 61
Trails of Sleeping Giant
Most difficult, hard, steep climb for experienced hikers:
White Trail 2.8 miles
Blue Trail 5.1 miles
Steady ascent to crest:
Orange Trail 2.4 miles
Green Trail 2.0 miles
Red Hexagon: 1.1 miles
Red Triangle 1.1 miles
Red Circle 1.9 miles
Red Square: 1.6 miles
Mostly level, some rises:
Yellow Trail: 2.2 miles
Violet Trail 3.2 miles
Red Diamond 0.7 miles
Nature Trail 1.5 miles
Gentle climb on wide clear path:
Tower Path: 1.6 miles
(Information from the Sleeping Giant Park Association)Article provided by Homesteader
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