West Rock Ridge State Park - Trail Running

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Summary

West Rock Ridge State Park is an adventure for those who want to emerge themselves in all types of nature, from trails, to caves (Judges Cave), to a glistening blue-green lake that seems like a hidden secret from the concrete city that surrounds it.

Written by

Stephanie Chang

Distance

6.7 miles

The Red-White Trail at West Rock Ridge Sate Park has a distance of 6.7 miles because of the different locations one can start and end at. If you would like to have a short point to point run, or hike, it can be suggested to start at the Lake Wintergreen parking lot. This location is the most accessible to beginner hikers and trail runners. It is also easier to park and locate each hiking trail. The view from the Lake Wintergreen entrance is also quite beautiful due to the lake's visibility.

Destination Distance From Downtown

4.0 miles

Difficulty

3 of 5 diamonds

West Rock Ridge gets a rating of 3 star for its variation in trails and surface terrain that might make the trail run difficult for those of different skill sets.

Time To Complete

2 hours

At West Rock Ridge the Red Trail is a total of 6.75 mile that begins at South Overlook between two stone pillars.

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

Yes

West Rock Ridge is dog friendly. This surely makes your trip to West Rock more enjoyable knowing you can bring your four legged companion. However, at West Rock Ridge all dogs mush be kept on a leash. This is policy is mandatory and must be followed at all times. It is also important for owners to be aware of their surroundings. This will ensure the safety of fellow visitors and your pet while at West Rock Ridge.

Fees Permits

No

West Rock Ridge is a park that is free to all visitors all year round. Both the main entrance at Baldwin Drive, the parking areas at South overlook and Lake Wintergreen are free to the public. However, the main entrance towards the South Overlook parking area is closed starting the last week of October, it is still accessible through foot, but entrance with car is not allowed. Lake Wintergreen entrance and parking area is open throughout the winter season.

Topographical Map

WestRockStatePark.PDF

Review

Intro

As I stand between the two stone pillars at the South Overlook, at the top of West Rock Ridge State Park, I am filled with a sense of excitement, curiosity, and even a bit of fear for the uncertainty of the obstacles I will face as I begin the Red Trail. But, all that uncertainty fades away as I stand between these two stone pillars, which allow me to look out boldly towards the panoramic view of the city of New Haven. I exhale and can't imagine  a greater view to start to a trail run. The endless counts of green trees, the vivid red brick structure of Southern Connecticut State University, and the outline shape of its opposite, East Rock state Park, become my personal motivational encouragers. They push my doubt aside so I can begin  a run that seems fit for an expert, but can be challenged by anyone who dares. 

 The Red Trail at West Rock Ridge State Park is an adventure that seems built solely for the trail runner in mind. As you cross the threshold of the pillars and make your way down the stone steps which descends roughly down to the ridge, you find yourself faced with a surface filled with obstacles right from the start. It is below the stepping stone steps that you begin your peril towards your final goal. 


What Makes It Great

West Rock Ridge State Park truly allows trail runners to map out a great experience no matter their chosen  trail or point of destination to begin their run within the park. It allows trail runners to feel a sense of ease and comfort even if their skill is not at a expert level. That sense of ease comes from the endless amount of unrestricted distance that is accompanied with a diverse terrain.  However, that is not to say that their is a lack of thrill  within each trails, for that is quite the contrary, trails like the Red, White, and Regicide reach beyond the expectations of any trail runner athlete. The blazed trails, the rocky obstacles, and the sensation of uneven footing as each running step touches onto the surfaces leaves you anticipating your next return. This is what makes West Rock Ridge State Park such a great outdoor location. The very fact that its urban location does not hinder the beautiful views of Mother Nature, as well as its ability to remain challenging is what makes visitors return to West Rock Ridge with undeniable confidence.

As a visitor, you will find that most of trail you run will be crowd free. There are several parts of the trails within West Rock State Park that are less reclusive. One of those parts being the southern end entrance of the Red Trail located at the Lake Wintergreen parking area. Within this entrance of Red Trail you will still find a wonderful trail to run on while be in contact with other runners, hikers, and dog walkers. One will also be able to see Lake Wintergreen as you make your way through stone gravel terrain.

West Rock Ridge State Park delivers each trail runner the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of rustling trees, the moving water of the lake, and a panoramic view that gives their journey a glorious end, or evening beginning.

Who is Going to Love It

West Rock Ridge State Park is an adventure for those who want to emerge themselves in all types of nature, from trails, to caves (Judges Cave), to a glistening blue-green lake that seems like a hidden secret from the concrete city that surrounds it. With the parks accessible short drive from downtown New Haven, its location makes it great for those who would like to escape the office, the classroom, or the hectic routine of busy city streets.  For those who want to tie up their running shoes and explore a terrain that is both challenging, vividly colorful, and a bit different from visit to visit due to its large selection of trails, West Rock Ridge State Park is a great location hiding quietly within a great city that is always ready for your arrival.

West Rock Ridge State Park offers various hiking trails besides the Red-White Trail that expands in their descriptions from beginner to advance. This gives everyone who visits the park an enjoyable and unforgettable experience. West Rock Ridge State Park stands out among other Connecticut state parks for its accessibility, its wide range of diverse  activities that extend from biking, Paddleboard boating, fishing, and even rock climbing. Adventure seekers will also enjoy West Rock Ridge State Park for its wide range of  terrain and surface choices. With the further you run along the trail the earth beneath you changes from steep rocky routes that lead to uneven footing, tree branches, plants, wet leaves, steeping stones, flat wood roads, and sections with open grass. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

 If you are visiting West Rock Ridge State Park for the first time, parking, and finding the marked hiking trails might be quite confusing at first, but don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes on your first visit. The uncertainty about the parks different parking areas, and access points for the trails, become clearer with proper direction and suggestions that will make your trip to West Rock Ridge State Park nothing but easy and enjoyable.  

 To access West Rock Ridge you have sereval options that include local commute from both New Haven and surrounding highways.  If coming from an outside town you would like to take Route 15 off the Wilbur Cross Parkway. From here you would want to take exit 60. Turn Right on the exit ramp onto Dixwell Avenue. From here you can chose to go the Lake Wintergreen parking area which is found at 29 Main St, Hamden, CT, or enter at the main entrance on Main Street, New Haven. From downtown New Haven you would like to go down Whalley Avenue towards Southern Connecticut State Univeristy, turn left onto Blake Street, and then turn left onto Springside Ave and continue on Wintergreen Ave. 

If you chose to enter West Rock Ridge State Park from the main entrance you will drive  up towards the South Overlook Parking area and from there you can access the Red Trail that start between two Stone Pillars. It is advised that you drive slowly up towards South Overlook for the roads are very narrow. These roads are also used by fellow bikers and runners, so a speed limit of 20 mph and below is advised. 

 If you are looking for a much easier parking location with great accessibility towards the hiking trails then the Lake Wintergreen Parking area is suggested. Here you can access the red trail facing south of the parking lot and also Lake Wintergreen. Lake Wintergreen parking area also has a map station that details different hiking trails within the park.

Rules and regulation at West Rock Ridge State Park are very similar to most of the rules and regulation at every park in Connecticut. The first is that all dogs must be on a leash at all times. West Rock Ridge State Park is a friendly place for dogs, with  great trails and open space for your four legged companion to enjoy, however, please be advised in order to keep your pet and visitors safe is to always keep the leash on your pet at all times. 

  Another regulation is the prohibition of alcohol beverages within the park. There is no alcohol drinking in any of the areas within West Rock Ridge, this includes boats on Lake Wintergreen. Safety of visitors is a high priority at West Rock, drinking might just not cause safety concerns for you personally, but for those around you as well.

 Seasonal changes at West Rock Ridge is also a large factor in the enforcement  of safety and rule regulations while visiting the park. During the end of October, West Rock Ridge main entrance is closed due to hazardous road conditions that come with colder temperatures. One can still access South Overlook by foot, however, one might have to park across the street at West Rock Nature Center. It is advised that one does not hike,run, or bike during snowy conditions, for the terrain becomes slippery and dangerous.


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Location

West Rock Ridge State Park

Main St, New Haven
New Haven, CT, 06515
41.359913, -72.964585

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