About West Rock

West Rock Ridge or West Rock of south-central Connecticut, with a high point of 700 feet (213 m), is a 7 miles (11 km) long traprock mountain ridge located on the west side of New Haven. The ridge forms a continuous line of exposed cliffs visible from metropolitan New Haven and points west. West Rock Ridge is part of the narrow, linear Metacomet Ridge that extends from Long Island Sound near New Haven, north through the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts to the Vermont border.

Activities enjoyed in the park include: hiking, picnicking, fishing, non-motorized boating, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, photography, nature study, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, paragliding. Because the Park has many unique features and wildlife, scientists from Yale, SCSU, and UCONN conduct research studies in the park. Hamden High School students explored the Park in their “Literature in the Outdoors” class, and included the results of their studies in the recently-published The Hiker’s Guide to Hamden. New Haven school children in Solar Youth’s environmental program regularly utilize the Park for their studies.

Among the important landmarks in the Park are Judges Cave, Regicide Drive to the scenic South Overlook, Baldwin Drive (non-motorized access), and Lake Wintergreen. In addition, the Park has many hiking trails, spectacular views, and many opportunities to enjoy nature and wildlife.

These are some of the more spectacular things that make WRR park unique:

The park has been studied by the scientific community for over 100 years. Studies have been conducted by Yale, SCSU and UCONN . The park, therefore, represents a living storehouse of continuous information on the changing environment of the area going back to the 19th century. Many of the studies are still ongoing.

According to the DEP publications, WRRSP has the 2nd highest concentration of rare and endangered species of any park in the state.

Extraordinary biodiversity of plants and animals from prickly pear cactuses to 230 species of birds and the highest percentage of breading birds of any park in the state B 70%. West Rock’s unique location – its high altitude in the central lowlands and its proximity to both salt and fresh water – result in an optimal environment for biodiversity. Many species of plants and animals reach the northern or southern limits of their ranges..

Particularly exciting is the fact that since 1999, Peregrine Falcons have been seen nesting and attempting to breed on the ridge. It was in 1940 that PF were last observed breeding on cliffs in CT.

Connecticut has this park because ordinary citizens cared about the land and the future, they stood up for what was important, and they preserved lands for everyone to enjoy. The Park Association continues that essential work, carries on that legacy, and ensures that the vision is kept alive.

To quote from Special Act 75-80 B A “The general assembly finds that the West Rock Ridge and surrounding lands possess unique scenic, ecological, scientific and historical value contributing to public enjoyment, inspiration and scientific study, that it is in the public interest that the provisions of this act be adopted to preserve such values, to provide active and passive recreational facilities and to prevent deterioration of the natural and traditional beauty of the area for the enjoyment of present and future generations of Connecticut citizens.”

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