Local Hikes: Sleeping Giant State Park
If you are driving along I-91 just north of New Haven you may notice some interesting hills that seem to just pop out of the ground. The trap rock of central Connecticut formed thousands of years ago when magma oozed up through cracks in the Earth’s crust. One of Connecticut’s most famous natural landmarks is one of these trap rock formations, Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. From a distance the formation appears to look like a giant human lying on its back.
Today Sleeping Giant is a magnet for people looking to get outside and enjoy nature. The park is made up of approximately 1650 acres of land and still growing. The Sleeping Giant Park Association (SGPA) hopes to increase recreational opportunities by having over 2000 acres of land. Most people head to Sleeping Giant to walk or hike. There are many view points throughout the parking looking in all directions. On a clear day, depending on where you are, you can see New Haven and Long Island Sound.
The most popular trail is the Tower Path. This 1.6 mile trail leads gradually to a stone tower on the Giant’s left hip which can be climbed for better views. For those looking to get a little more off the beaten path there are 32 miles of single track hiking trails. These trails, maintained by the SGPA, are designated as a National Recreation Trail and include a cross-country ski and equestrian trail. The trails range from steep climbs to mostly level with only gradual rises. Dogs are welcomed in the park but state law requires them to be leashed.
Trails throughout the park are very well marked with the Red Trails generally going North-South. All other colored trails are more East-West Trails. The Blue Trail throughout the park is part of the Quinnipiac Trail and the state-wide Blue-Blazed trail system. The Kiosk at the main parking lot adjacent to Quinnipiac University usually has trail maps. You can also visit the State DEEP website to check out the trail map ahead of time.