Damned Conn-ection: West Rock Ridge State Park is home of the Judge’s Cave, which got its name for being the temporary hideout for two English magistrates who fled Great Britain after a death sentence was placed upon them for signing the order condemning King Charles I to death in 1649. So they were essentially “damned” by the king. Hello!
Noteworthy features/moments: Despite being uphill to start, this is not a super challenging hike as we had to walk portions on the roadway. Still, the park offers some wonderful panoramic views of New Haven, including East Rock and Long Island Sound. Plus, the Elm City looks much cleaner and quieter from above!
We walked up the main roadway most of the way to the top, although there are trail options. (FYI lazy folk and Sunday hikers: You can drive to the top when the park is open).
At the top, Judge’s Cave (really just a big pile of rocks), is a popular point of interest/draw for kids because … well, kids like caves! And adults who still think they are kids. Or are immature. Or are us.
We then hiked the trail that goes from the Judge’s Cave to the southern lookout, which has a few steep ledges that offer a dramatic shortcut if we wanted to get quickly down to Westville. Along the way we encountered an unleashed chocolate lab that was excited to see us (and forced us to lube up with hand sanitizer). The path is well-worn and not particularly challenging, although it’s still more interesting than walking on the roadway (again, an option for getting from one end to the other). You can also get up the hill via multiple routes, but those paths aren’t really marked all that well.
It was a perfectly clear day, so when we got to the southern end of the ridge, Southern Connecticut State University (our alma mater) was, appropriately, visible. Downtown New Haven was also easily visible, as was the Sound and even Long Island itself on the horizon, which was an appropriate social distance away.
Damned Verdict: We “judge” (*groan*) a hike up West Rock to be a family-friendly, if not particularly rigorous, jaunt.