By Vanessa Willoughby
Black Rock State Park
US Route 6
Hours: Park is open 8AM-sunset; gates are open on weekends only, from the third Saturday in April until Memorial Day, 8AM-sunset. From Memorial Day to October 31st, gates are open daily between 8AM and sunset.
Fees: $17/night for Connecticut residents, $27/night for non-Connecticut residents
Black Rock State Park is best recognized for its wide variety of outdoor activities. The park has earned its namesake from the local graphite deposits that the early settlers of the Naugatuck Valley allowed to mine by the resident Indians around 1657. It is considered a “trout park” with pond fishing a main recreational attraction. There are also plenty of nature hikes ranging from half an hour to all day.
Devil’s Hopyard State Park
366 Hopyard Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
Hours: Park is open from 8AM-sunset; camping is available from mid-April through the end of September 30
Price: No parking fees, but there is a nightly camping fee: $14/night for Connecticut resides, $24/night for non-Connecticut residents.
Reviews, Directions & More Info:
Devil’s Hopyard covers 940 acres of land, most notably featuring Chapman Falls. Furthermore, Chapman Falls has a sixty feet drop over a series of steps in a Scotland Schist stone formation. The water from the pool at the base of the falls, spilling into Eight Mile River, runs through the park’s hemlock-canopied picnic area. Devil’s Hopyard features excellent bird-watching opportunities and beloved fishing sites. With 21 campsites, campers can also enjoy biking, horseshoe pits, cooking grills, and picnic shelters. Outhouses are also available. Looking for a short day trip outside of the grounds? Check out Gillette Castle State Park or Haddam Meadows State Park.
Hammonasset Beach State Park Campground
1288 Boston post Road (PO 271)
Hours: Park is open from 8AM-sunset
Campground is open mid-May-October 31, gates are monitored after sunset. Only campers and fisherman may enter the park.
Fees: $20/night for Connecticut residents, $30/night for non-Connecticut residents, $70/night rustic cabin.
Hammonasset Beach State Park marked its grand opening on July 18, 1920. Not surprisingly, the first season attracted over 75,000 people. During World War II, the park was closed to the public and served as an army reservation. In addition to the two miles of beach, campers can enjoy over 550 grassy campsites, canoe trips, bingo, movies, horseshoes, and/or volleyball.
Hopeville Pond State Park Campground
193 Roode Road
Jewitt City, CT
Hours: Park is open from sunrise to sunset. Main gate opens first day of April and closes on the last day in October. Recreational field is open all year round.
Fees: $17/night for Connecticut residents, $27/night for non-Connecticut residents.
Encompassing the Pachaug River, Hopeville Pond State Park continually stands out due to its glacial geologic features. In the past, it was a major fishing site for the Mohegan Indians. When the water is low, the stone weirs, constructed by the Indians, are still visible from certain angles. Hopeville Pond contains 544 acres and offers 80 camping sites in a wooded setting near the pond. Recreational activities include picnicking, freshwater fishing, swimming, boating, field sports, nature trails, and bicycling.
West Thompson Lake Campground
400 Reardon Road
North Grosvenordale, CT
Hours: Open mid-May-September
Fees: Peak season May 20, 2011-September 10, 2011: Standard Non-Electric, $15/night, Standard Electric, $30/night, Overnight Shelter Non-Electric $20/night
Peak Season May 18,2012-September 8,2012: Same prices.
West Thompson Lake Campground features 24 campsites: 11 basic, 11 with electric and water hookups, and 2 Adirondack shelters. Additionally, the campground offers hiking trails, an amphitheater, and a picnic pavilion conveniently located nearby. For campers feeling adventurous, the QuinebaugRiver Water Trail is sure to provide a riveting experience. This segment isaround five miles long with moving water, flat water, no rapids, and extensive wildlife habitat. It makes a relaxing and enjoyable three-hour outing for paddlers who are not intimidated by moving water.
Rocky Neck State Park
244 West Main Street (Route 156)
East Lyme, CT
Hours: Park is open from 8AM-sunset
Fees: $20/night for Connecticut residents, $30/night for non-Connecticut residents
This 700-acre state park is definitely for beach lovers – featuring 1Ž2 mile of sand and surf. The clear waters and the stone-free beach make it an ideal location for swimming. On the other hand, trails within the park can offer easy and engaging walks to thesalt-water marsh and to such sites as Baker’s Cave, Tony’s Nose and Shipyard. Additionally, Rocky Neck is close to such attractions as Bluff Point State Park and Harkness Memorial State Park.
American Legion State Forest
By Mike Guerrera
West River Road
Pleasant Valley, CT
Campground Office (860) 379-0922
Forest Headquarters (860) 379-2469
The Austin Hawes Campground is open for the season from April 15 through October 10 (daily) and the Austin F. Hawes Memorial Campground is located midway between Pleasant Valley and Riverton on West River Road. There are 30 sites in pine woods. Dumping station, bathrooms, showers, fishing. No swimming. One pet/site permitted. Reservations accepted April 20 through Columbus Day. The campground is located near State lands that are open to hunting. $17/night/campsite for CT residents. $27/night/campsite for non-CT residents. Processing fee added. Canoeing and kayaking places available as well as a youth camp area.
Vanessa Willoughby lives in Waterford. A recent graduate of The New School’s MFA program, she also blogs for the entertainment and music website, 411mania.com