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West Rock Ridge Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (2) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An extended outing at West Rock Ridge State Park to see some of the highlights of the area.


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Map Key

7.9

Miles

12.7

KM

Loop

593' 181 m

High

137' 42 m

Low

785' 239 m

Up

772' 235 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

33%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Cave · Fall Colors · Lake · Views

Trail are open from 8 a.m. to sunset. The drive to the summit is open to vehicles on weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the last weekend in October.

Overview

At just under 8 miles in length, this great loop hike is highlighted by Judges Cave, Lake Wintergreen, and the South Overlook. The trail climbs along the gently undulating terrain of the Regicides Trail (Blue Trail) before looping back to the south on the Red Trail past Lake Wintergreen. Be sure to save some energy for the last leg-burning climb back up to the parking lot!

Need to Know

There is a composting toilet by the Lake Wintergreen parking lot, which is the only restroom facility available in the park. There is no water available at the park.

Description

Standing at 627 feet, West Rock Ridge is one of the more prominent ridgelines in the New Haven area. As such, a hike in the park promises some slightly more challenging climbs and rewarding views. For this hike, start at the southern trailhead which is easily accessible from New Haven.

The hike starts on the Regicides Trail (Blue Trail). This is one of the most challenging trails in the park as it follows the ridgeline north. From the trailhead, the trail is rolling, but climbs steadily along the ridge, gaining about 200 ft. in elevation over the course of the next 3.5 miles. Judges Cave, a small cave, can be found about a half mile into the Regicides Trail near the junction with the Green Trail. Take a short side trip on the Green Trail to explore the cave, a fun detour.

From the Regicides Trail (Blue Trail), turn east onto the Purple Trail, an mile-long connector that descends quickly to the Red Trail. Turn south along the Red Trail and enjoy a pleasant hike along a mostly wide and flat trail. The trail passes along the east shore of Wintergreen Lake, a scenic lake that you may want to visit separately for a canoe or kayak outing. There are still a few small hills to contend with along the Red Trail, but nothing too steep or long—that is until the end!

At just over 7.5 miles, you'll come to the southern end of the Red Trail and the most difficult climb of the loop, a steep ascent back to the trailhead. This climb winds up the edge of the bluff, gaining over 100 ft. in a little over half a mile. You'll end back at the parking area at the South Overlook where you should take some time to enjoy the views. From here you can see Sleeping Giant State Park, East Rock Park, downtown New Haven, Long Island Sound, and Long Island.

Pack a snack or lunch to enjoy at the covered picnic pavilion at the trailhead post-hike.

Contacts

Shared By:

Kristen Arendt

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes

#2446

Overall
  4.5 from 2 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#10

in Connecticut

#2,446

Overall
163 Views Last Month
3,065 Since Nov 1, 2018
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Colorful shoreline
Nov 8, 2018 near Woodbridge, CT
The backside of the Judges Cave
Jul 18, 2020 near Woodbridge, CT
View from the South Overlook picnic shelter.
Jul 18, 2020 near New Haven, CT
A view of the eastern side of West Rock.
Jul 16, 2020 near Woodbridge, CT
Taken on the Red Trail on the south end of the park near Lake Wintergreen.
Nov 20, 2017 near Woodbridge, CT
The first 2 miles of trail looks like this (in the winter).
Jan 15, 2017 near Woodbridge, CT

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Check-Ins

Jul 19, 2019
Mike Bogan
7.9mi — 2h 45m
Mar 30, 2019
Benjamin Boivin
Mar 24, 2019
Stephanie Vargas
Went two hours on the blue trail before turning back to catch the purple trail to the red and then blue, blue & yellow trails to loop back to the s… 10.8mi — 4h 29m
Feb 16, 2019
Florian Kogler