Devil's Hopyard, East Haddam

March, 2009 by Ray Bendici
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Courtesy of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

Courtesy of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

The Damned Story: In one of the more pretty parts of Connecticut is the 860 acres of a state park known as Devil's Hopyard, a parcel of land with a possibly damned history, including being one of the many hangouts of . . . perhaps . . . maybe . . . [*insert Church Lady voice*] SATAN! The early Puritan settlers of Connecticut were inordinately obsessed with the Devil -- maybe because they truly believed Satan was hiding behind each tree waiting to claim their souls. According to author David Phillips (of Legendary Connecticut), as a result, there are some 34 places whose names were inspired by the Adversary, including five Devil's Dens, four Backbones, two Kitchens and a Dripping Pan, as well as a Hell Hole, a Tophet Ravine and two Satan's Kingdoms. Although any one of the aforementioned locations could be Hell on Earth, the one that seems to come up the most when talking about where the Evil One may be laying in wait is Devil's Hopyard in East Haddam. As with many of Connecticut's state parks, the Hopyard is steeped in natural beauty, from its picturesque forest to the steady Eight Mile River, which bisects the park. One of the draws to the Hopyard is Chapman Falls (as seen above), a 60-foot cascade of water over multiple ledges; legend has it that the Prince of Darkness himself has been seen sitting atop a huge boulder near the top of the falls, playing a violin (or fiddle) while his minions stirred nefarious brews in the naturally formed cauldron-like potholes at the bottom of the falls. (The potholes have also been thought to be the marks burned in the rocks by the Devil's hooves.) Native Americans may have used the area for rituals, further spooking the locals and adding to the mythos. Over the decades, dark shadows and phantoms have been purportedly seen moving around the woodland. In more recent times, people have allegedly experienced spirit orbs and mists, as well as strong feelings of foreboding. Others have heard demonic voices and inexplicable laughing. EVPs have also been supposedly recorded. And yes, there's evidence that in the 18th century there was a malt house near one of the tributaries of the Eight Mile River, near which hops were grown. Hence, the "hopyard." To read more about the history of Devil's Hopyard, as well as other Satan in Connecticut legends, check out Legendary Connecticut. Our Damned Experience: We haven't been to the Hopyard recently, but we're hoping to hop on over soon. If You Go: Devil's Hopyard State Park is located in East Haddam and is open daily to the public from April 1 to December 1, from 8 am to sunset. Some camping is allowed; the scenic park also welcomes hikers, bikers, bird watchers and fishermen.
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Submitted by Mary (not verified) on
I camped here many years ago. I was always told a different story about the history of those falls. It was about a girl who was possessed by the devil and committed suicide by jumping off the top of the falls, forever staining the rocks red with her blood.

I have been to Devil's Hopyard twice this year so far, but unfortunately I spent more time hiking and enjoying the weather than trying to see if the devil or any other spirits were lurking in the woods. However, after taking numerous pictures, I have two that I, as well as a few other individuals, cannot explain. One is a red figure standing behind a tree (satan?) and no there were no other hikers in the Hopyard that day. I was only about 40-45 degrees out, so it wasn't really hiking weather. My other picture looks almost like bigfoot, but I am trying to enhance the image to see if the bigfoot picture is actually a tree stump. I don't think it is because the 'figure' is at least 5-7 feet tall, but only time will tell. I am looking to get back out soon, now that the weather is getting nicer and hopefully I will be able to get a few more members of my paranormal group to go. If you go, definitely check out the Devil's Oven. It is on the Yellow trail near the river. There is a sign that points up a steep hill. Be careful because when I say steep, I mean very steep. It is more dangerous getting down afterwards than hiking up to the Oven. If you ever decide to go to the Hopyard, my team would be more than willing to give you a tour around parts of the Hopyard if you've never had the chance to visit. We can even show you the Devil's Oven, as long as you have no problems with climbing up almost vertical inclines. It is also a days trip too. We usually go early in the morning and spend most of the day there seeing there are so many different trails to hike.

Submitted by Sasha (not verified) on
I've been to Devil's Hopyard quite a few times, mostly with friends just to take pictures or short hikes. Most recently I went this morning. It was such a nice day, a friend and I only walked along the falls and down to the main parking lot. I've never walked along any of the trails or seen anything out of the ordinary, unfortunately. I would love to go back just to see the entire park and hike the trails though!!

Submitted by Troy Hollon (not verified) on
I have been to Devils Hopyard on many occasions and was even there today 12/26/12, I have never heard, felt or seen a thing. Also visited Moodus S.P. but no noises, hope to visit the hill this summer.

Submitted by Richard (not verified) on
I as a preteen and teenager camped at a family campground just up the road in Salem CT (Witches Meadow), There is very many legends and stories about this area of the state. We would hike in the woods and explore the area. I remember a couple times walking on trail in and around the hopyard and just getting a cold chill and like a feeling of fear and just running as fast as I could back to camp. A couple other times I remember seeing people in robes marching into areas of the park where camping was permitted and building large bonfires and chanting and speaking in crazy tongues.

Submitted by Dave (not verified) on
Personally, I love this place, because it is truly a beautiful location and I'm glad the state declared it a state park. the eerie thing about it, is the name, but other than that, especially around the fall, it can be a truly beautiful location. I have heard that there are parks throughout the area that resemble some sort of pentagram and are created as a portal to Satan, personally, I think it's all a bunch of mularkey. This spot is a great hiking area and unless you go there at night (which is trespassing) it's like any other woods. Nothing too historical has occurred here to make it "haunted" but people will believe what they want to believe.

Any beliefs that such a place could indeed be haunted solely suggest witchcraft as a valid reason.

I have heard that when you go to this park your car mileage fixates on 666. I believe this may indeed be true though, I do not know why this would be. This would suggest a witch coven perhaps in the general area perhaps. I do not have any data to back up this argument though. You would have to explore the entire woods area. I think the area is safe and peaceful, just something demonic about those woods.

Submitted by C. Goodman (not verified) on
I was just asking my daughter, now 14, if she remembered a scary experience that involved her about five years ago in Devil's Hopyard State Park. I was there with all three of my children, and my middle child started having difficulty breathing. She was feeling worse and worse, and gasping for air. It was really bizarre -- she is super healthy, no history of medical problems, etc. I piled them into the car, in a huge panic, of course, to get out of there. She was getting worse and said afterwards that it felt like someone was choking her. She was coughing, gasping, and there was no color in her face. But, as we got further from the park she gradually stopped gasping for air, as the feelings of constriction of her throat apparently lessened. Whew -- was that weird and so scary! The weird thing, too, was that some part of me intuited that leaving that area was imperative... and would hopefully be all that was needed. We have not been back since. (And she now has no recollection of that frightening and inexplicable incident, for which I'm glad.)