East Rock Park is a 427 acre city park designed by renowned landscape architect Donald Grant Mitchell in the late 1870's. It is comprised of the mountainous traprock ridge known as East Rock, the meandering Mill River, open fields, woodland trails, and scenic paved roadways leading up to the Summit with 360 degree views of New Haven harbor, Long Island Sound, many neighborhoods of New Haven, the Quinnipiac River marshlands, West Rock and Sleeping Giant State Park. The park straddles the border between New Haven and Hamden, CT with about two-thirds located in Hamden. The City of New Haven is responsible for the care and maintenance of the entire park including structures and facilities such as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument atop the Summit and the Trowbridge Environmental Center located in College Woods.
Photo by Michael Hawley
East Rock was formed about 200 million years ago as the continents were in the process of moving away from each other. Molten rock from deep in the earth surged through stress cracks formed in the sandstone bedrock of the New Haven area. The molten rock cooled to form dolerite, also know as basalt or traprock. Dolerite is much more resistant to erosion than the surrounding sandstone. As glacial action and the forces of weathering eroded away the softer sandstone, East Rock (and other traprock ridges such as West Rock) became more prominent. The summit of East Rock Park now rises more than 350 feet above the floor of the Mill River valley at its base.
The Summit of East Rock is accessible by foot, bicycle or car and affords visitors a spectacular view of downtown New Haven, New Haven Harbor, Long Island Sound, and surrounding communities. It is a favorite tourist stop in New Haven.
The Trowbridge Environmental Center, located in the College Woods section of East Rock Park, is dedicated to promoting environmental awareness. The center features displays and information about the flora and fauna of East Rock Park and offers programs to the general public, school groups and organizations. See the program calendar for a current list of programs.
Pardee Rose Garden and Greenhouse (203-946-8142) is located at the intersection of Park Drive and Farm Road. The Rose Garden, containing an array of flowers from early spring until mid fall, features one of Connecticut's finest display of roses. Also found in the garden is a raised, tiered structure that resembles the top of a wedding cake. Traditionally, many brides and grooms come here for wedding pictures. *Please call 203-946-8020 for a park permit if you are considering a photo shoot or wedding at this site.
Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument near the summit honors New Haven men who gave their lives in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Erected in 1887, this 112-foot-high tower can be seen from almost anywhere in the City. Further information on the Park's history is at the Ranger Station.
Giant Steps Trail provides a spectacular 285-foot climb to the Summit. It starts at the English Drive gate along the north side of Rice Field. The Giant Steps Trail is designated with red triangle trail markers.
Photo by David Shimchick