There are no obvious signs here; if you hadn't seen it on a map first you would have no clue Bishops Woods was a public park. Dr. Louis Bennett Bishop willed these 40+ acres to the City of New Haven for use as a bird sanctuary, but the primary users of the land seem to be illegal ATV racers. Neighbors frequently complain that ATVs have marred the landscape and frightened the birds away.
What Makes It Great
This park comes with hipster bragging rights: it's easily the least-known park in New Haven. And the trails aren't kept tidy like at the more popular parks, so you'll have stories to tell about all the fallen trees you had to climb over and how you had to figure out how to avoid the poison ivy growing in the middle of your path.
I was filled with a great sense of apprehension walking through Bishops Woods. Even in the middle of the day and within sight of houses, the park feels isolated, and it doesn't take much imagination to convince yourself that one of those abandoned sleeping bags contains a body (aside: people have left a lot of junk behind, from camping gear to broken ATVs and old tires). I got myself so worked up here that a tiny garter snake made me scream.
Birds that have been spotted here include wood thrush, tufted titmouse, great crested flycatcher, catbird, cardinal, oriole, warbler, woodpecker, and more.
Who is Going to Love It
Do you like horror movies? The kind where some kids are camping where they shouldn't be and Chucky Chainsaw Fingers jumps out from behind a tree and utters his pre-murder catchphrase? This would be the perfect place to film such a movie.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are two areas of public access: via what looks like a private driveway on Foxon Hill Road near Harmac Drive in North Haven; or by walking up the steep hill behind Bishop Woods School on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven. The hill behind the school is more difficult but more satisfying.