HAMDEN – Hikers will notice a change to the landscape while venturing through Sleeping Giant State Park this summer after the May 2018 tornado caused damage and shut down the park for more than a year.
Visitors returned to the trails after the park officially opened back up to the public last week. Sleeping Giant is known for its geological structures which bear striking resemblance to a resting human form.
At its highest point, Sleeping Giant reaches 739 feet. Sleeping Giant’s layered sedimentary rocks are around 200 million years old. The park’s variety of trails offer leisurely pathways to novice hikers and more challenging climbs for experienced hikers.
The base of Sleeping Giant has changed markedly. The thick forest that once shaded the parking lot at the Mount Carmel Avenue entrance is gone. Gravel roadways that led straight back into the woods have been reconfigured. Visitors can park on the lots closest to the street in the front of the mountain and to the left of the park entrance nearest the picnic area enclosure.
Mother and daughter hikers from North Haven, Roni and Jashan Kang, recalled hiking the mountain prior to the storm damage.
“It looks so different…There are a lot of changes with what the front looks like” said Jashan Kang.
“We’ve been hiking here for years,” added Roni.
The pair said the most notable changes they saw in the park were at the bottom of the mountain by the entrance, and at the top of the castle-like observation tower.
“You can see the whole skyline now,” Jashan Kang said.
With less tree coverage, the views from the tower that sits atop the Tower Trail are more expansive. Uprooted tree trunks are scattered throughout the outer edges of the trails that lead up the mountain.
Other changes in the landscape are less obvious. Some trees are tagged with specific color ties and sod materials have been packed onto muddy areas.
New trail markers have been added to trees that remain upright along the stone covered pathways. The curvature of the mountain and steep slopes of the hiking trails are much more prominent. The trails are equipped with new drainage systems and fresh layers of gravel.
Although some parts of the woods are noticeably barren, other areas are lush with vegetation.
“There are so many more flowers, we never saw those before” Roni Kang said.
White and pink flowers are in full bloom throughout the trail.
With the debris from the storm now clear, the changes to the park are mostly aesthetic in nature. Due to the extensive cleanup efforts of Sleeping Giant State Park crews and volunteers the integrity of the trails remains intact and the park is once again open for the enjoyment of the public.
For more information about Sleeping Giant State Park visit: https://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325264&deepNav_GID=1650.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris – https://dearfitkris.com/