Being born and raised in Connecticut, I have been just about all over the state as I grew up to explore the abundance of stuff to see and do in such a small state, which actually harbors more than the eye can see. This past Saturday, I decided to take a little day trip downstate and explore some areas that I have been wanting to explore for quite some time. One of those places was Sleeping Giant State Park which is located in Hamden and nestled just across the street from Quinnipiac College. I had been here twice before in my life, but never as of late. Despite the lack of sunshine, it was indeed a great day to explore this majestic piece of land which is just minutes from the city of New Haven. As an upstate boy, I’m used to the rugged terrain that many Litchfield County hiking trails offer. The trails at Sleeping Giant, however, foster a great mix for all terrain levels. The easiest trail, as well as the most popular, is the Tower Trail, which climbs to the highest point in the park and features a majestic lookout tower at the summit. The trail winds through a lush canopy forest and guides it’s way past boulders which is all thanks to a former rock quarry that sat here many years ago.
As I made my way to the summit, I took in the sights along the way. The trail was very wide and very easy which makes taking in the sights of nature a world of fun. The Tower Trail was once an old carriage road which makes it the easiest hiking trail in the park today. Once I reached the summit, there it was. Sitting ever so breathtaking was the lookout tower which has a bit of medieval appeal to it with it’s stonewalls and arched windows. A brief climb to the top of the tower gives you an unforgettable view of the surrounding area, which includes the city of New Haven as well as a small piece of nearby Long Island, New York.
After my breath was stolen from the tower, I headed south back on the Tower Trail as I made my way to the blue blazed trail which would offer me another view of the region, but one that comes with a bit of a price. The blue blazed trail is rough, and I mean rough. Once you make your way from the forest floor, you begin to climb to another portion of the sleeping giant, the chin. This climb would be unforgettable for me as I climbed through boulders and hard to get to places, but once I finally reached my destination, the payoff was big. As I sat on the giants chin, I could see the whole valley below as the birds soared below from where i was standing through the valley and into the open fields of Quinnipiac College. Looking south, I saw the skyscrapers of New Haven as well as the glistening waters of Long Island Sound. I spent about 20 minutes taking in the view but could have easily packed a lunch and spent an entire afternoon reflecting on it’s beauty.
After a few rain drops began to fall, it was my cue to make the return trip back down the Tower Trail. As I did, I couldn’t help but to love what a wonderful discovery this had been, and how remarkably close it was to the great city of New Haven. While Connecticut may be a densely populated state, we are by no means out of touch with nature as we have an incredible abundance of state parks and nature preserves which offer us a quick escape out of reality as we take time out from our busy lives and reflect on the possibilities of our futures.