Sunday, July 18, 2010

Regicides Trail

After hiking a piece of the trail last week, I figured I'd knock off the rest.  The Regicides Trail is a 7 mile spur of the Quinnipiac trail branching off between York Mountain in Hamden and West Rock in New Haven. 

I arrived at the Wintergreen Avenue park entrance early - even earlier than the gate goes up!  My hike just got a mile or so longer than planned.  Normally, this time of year, the park road is open weekends so you can drive up to West Rock and Judges Cave, just not this early.  I walked up the entrance road to my 'starting point' the South Overlook.

7am and it's hazy already.  The normally clear view of New Haven and Long Island Sound was obscured and misty.  Looking east, I could just make out East Rock and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.  To the northeast, Sleeping Giant was just a hazy watercolor image, darker hills floating in the white haze on the horizon. 

The trail begins behind the park pavillion and winds it's way along the cliff edge.  I looked down from the first overlook to see Heron's flying around the West River and Lily Pond - long graceful birds in flight. They seem to be all wing until they land in the tree, then it's all neck.

The Regicides Trail gets its name from, and takes you past, Judges Cave - a group of boulders where William Goffe and Edward Whalley, two of the 59 judges who signed the death warrent for England's King Charles I, hid during the summer of 1661.  Find a quick history here. 
A historic spot, and one I haven't visited since maybe third grade!

The trail leads down into Buttress Gap - directly above the Wilbur Cross Parkway tunnel - past radio and cell towers, past one of the tunnel's ventilation towers, and back along the West Rock Ridge.  It seems pretty level on the maps, but there is a lot of up and down over the sometimes jagged and generally rocky path as it follows the mountain ridges.  There were a few points where I wondered why I was hopping from rock to rock when there's a nice flat road just 10 feet to the east!  But that's not trail hiking, so I stayed with the blue blazes.  The trail does cross Baldwin Drive in several places, just keep an eye out for blazes on the guardrail to see where the trail dives back into the woods.

This trail is about the views off the cliffs  -

Konolds Pond (nearly covered in lily pads)

Lake Dawson
Glen Lake off in the distance

Power Lines cut through the Trail

Lake Watrous

Farm Brook Reservoir and Laurel View Country Club

Looking Back at New Haven from Trail's End

After finding the end trail marker (that tree with blue blazes, R's and Q's all over it) I backtracked to the Red and Red/White Dot Trails of the West Rock Ridge Park system, and made my way past the Farm Brook Reservoir to Hill Street. The new trails create loop routes all through the park - and many hike options for your time and temperament.  UPDATE -  the trail maps... include more detail on the connector trails at the north and south ends and at Lake Wintergreen. 


  1. For more information on West Rock, check out the blog

  2. I'm writing this as the Trails Manager for the Regicides since June 2011, and my blog is referenced in the above comment. Thanks for the informative write up, and all the great pictures. I reblazed 6 miles of the trail in summer 2011, plus cleared back lots of overhanging brush, so the trail should be easy to follow. I have started a project with the trails crew to install rock steps on the trail where it heads south over the West Rock Tunnel. The state did update the map in 2010, so you can see all the other work I did blazing trails and extending the blazes on other trails. The easiest way to get to the Regicides Trail is to park at the Lake Wintergreen parking lot, and head up the Gold Trail to the water tank, on the road, then head left at the water tank to stay on the Gold Trail up to the Regicides Trail. As noted in this commentary, you can use the Red and Red-White Trails to make a complete loop.

    1. Thanks Tom - for the info and for all your hard work keeping the trail in good condition. I've hiked some of the other West Rock park trails and will get another write up done this spring. They do give you options to do loop hikes instead of going end to end like I did here.



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