West Rock Ridge SP

Posted By on June 20, 2019

West Rock Ridge SP

1.7 miles; Bethany and New Haven, CT

My old hiking pal Stacy made a visit up from Florida, and we attempted to hike the length of the Regicides Trail, but only got as far as, uh, the junction with the Quinnipiac, the Regicides, and the Sanford Feeder Trail. It was raining, and the going was steep and rocky and very slippery, so we decided to bail and go get some New Haven pizza. But before we did, we also visited the Judges’ Cave, and we almost stepped on a copperhead, so it wasn’t completely uneventful!

Junction Signage

Junction Signage

We started from the trailhead of the Sanford Feeder Trail in Bethany and climbed our way up the ridge. At the top we had to decide which way to turn to start heading towards the park overlook in New Haven, and because it was us, we picked the wrong direction. This is what always happens when I hike with Stacy, I don’t know why. I guess we just get to talking and not paying attention? Anyway, part of my goal for this hike was to go to the junction of the Regicides Trail with the Quinnipiac Trail. The Quinnipiac is the oldest of the blue-blazed Connecticut Forest and Park Association trails, and goes through Sleeping Giant SP. So we did that, and then decided it was too wet and slippery to continue.

Judges' Cave

Judges’ Cave

We drove back to the West Rock Ridge overlook, which gave us a commanding view of… fog, and then decided to drive to the Judges’ Cave. I’ma outsource the description of this landmark to Atlas Obscura:

Edward Whalley, William Goffe, and John Dixwell were three of the 59 British judges who sentenced King Charles I to death in 1649, dissolving the monarchy and placing Oliver Cromwell into power instead. When Charles II, the son of the executed king, was restored to the throne in 1660, he exacted his revenge on the men who had his father beheaded. He issued an order that each regicide should be hanged, drawn, and quartered. In order to avoid this grisly fate, Whalley, Goffe, and Dixwell fled to North America.

Where they hid in this “cave.” I put the quotes around “cave” because it’s really just a jumble of big boulders which provide maybe? some shelter from the elements. Anyway, you can do a deep dive into Judges’ Cave from the Atlas Obscura page. [See what I did there? Dive? Into the cave? I crack me up sometimes…]

Sleepy Copperhead

Sleepy Copperhead

Okay, and what is it with me and snakes? This is a Northern Copperhead, a venomous pit viper type snake, and my extensive research [Ed. Note: 2 minutes on Wikipedia] tells me that its bite is “rarely fatal.” Cool. We almost stepped on it. It was unmoving and at first I thought it was just a big stick or piece of bark.

After that, we needed our pizza and cocktails!

You can find out more about the Regicides Trail from the CFPA website on it. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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