When I drive up Route 15 and I-91 toward Hartford (and with daughters at UConn, I do this quite often), I don’t think of the landscape I pass through as holding much in the way of interest. Mostly the windshield shows a movie of trees, unspectacular hills, and suburbia.
But on Friday, from the top of the stone tower that sits on the Sleeping Giant, I looked out on this same landscape, and it was full of feature! To the east, far beyond the knolls of the Giant itself, ran a long ridge, its escarpment looking like sheer cliff in places. It was impressive, and I decided later it was the eastern line of the Metacomet Ridge (the Giant forming part of the western line). To the north of the Giant, rose two smooth, wooded humps, side by side. Were these the Hanging Hills, another manifestation of the Metacomet Ridge?
Hikes have a habit of suggesting other hikes, and now I wanted to explore the Metacomet Ridge. Fortunately, there are trails that will help me – the Mattabesett and Metacomet trails (part of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association blue-blazed system) lead from Durham’s Pistapaug Mountain in the south to Meriden’s Hanging Hills, and indeed right up into Massachusetts if I so choose. One day. In the meantime, next time I drive to UConn, I will appreciate tunneling under the Metacomet at West Rock and passing through a gap in it beneath Higby Mountain east of Meriden.
On Friday, the Sleeping Giant itself served up a fine hike and scenery. Notes and photos:
DATE: Friday, February 27th.
START & FINISH: Sleeping Giant State Park Mt Carmel Ave entrance (off Route 10 in Hamden, CT).
ROUTE: Out – Violet trail all the way to Chestnut Lane. Back – White to Hezekiah’s Knob; Blue to stone tower; tower path to beneath Giant’s chin; Blue again over chin and head.
DISTANCE: About 7 miles.
TIME: Just under 5 hours (9:10-2:00).
TERRAIN: Packed-snow trails (deep, loose snow on some little-trafficked stretches of Blue east of the tower). Gentle ups and downs (Violet); steeper ups and downs (White, Blue); butt-scramble (descent from Giant’s head).
MAP: Color map from SG Park Association.
WEATHER: Sunny, calm, cold (20s).
WILDLIFE: Two turkey vultures took off (briefly) from a south-facing cliff face just beneath me. I think I disturbed their sunbathing.
BREAKFAST: Shef’s Bagels, Cheshire
LUNCH: A burger at Five Guys, New Haven, on the drive home.
UPS: The views from the stone tower, particularly east-ish, toward what I took to be the Metacomet Ridge.
DOWNS: None whatsoever.
KIT: I suspect my microspikes were essential to my enjoyment (even safety for the descent from the Giant’s head).
COMPANY: None on the way out, a few hikers on the way back, especially on the tower path.