Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Devil's Hopyard

Hike: Devil's Hopyard
Nearby Town: East Haddam, CT
Elevation (Max): 435'
Elevation Gained: ~725'
Mileage: 4.54
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trailhead: From I-95, take Exit 70 onto Rte 156 N. Turn R on Rte 82 and take immediate Left on Hopyard Road. Turn R on Foxtown Road directly above the waterfall and park in the lot above the falls.
Web Site: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325188

This is a loop hike around both sides of Devil's Hopyard State Park. The first half is relatively flat while the second half has some short segments that are steep enough to make use of all four of your limbs. To get started, park in the lot above the falls. Cross the road and walk along the falls on the right side passing by a stone arch on the right.

The Red Trail breaks off on the right, follow it. It crosses Hopyard Road. Follow the Red Trail to where it comes to a point and switches back. Continue to follow the Red Trail, over a small bridge, and then turn left on the Green Trail. Take another immediate left on the Green Trail, and then follow the trail until it intersects the White Trail. Go right on the White Trail and follow it, crossing the Green Trail a couple times along the way. The White Trail will meet back up with the Red Trail where you should turn right to return to where you first joined the Red Trail. I know that sequence of trails is pretty confusing, and those trails all intersect multiple times, but basically you want to make a lollipop out of the Red and Green trails, and the White trail can be used as a short cut. That concludes the part of the hike on the west side of Hopyard Road.

The rest of the hike is on the east side of the road along Eightmile River and up on the ridge. Go right at the end of the Red Trail, then go left down some stairs, then right through a picnic area, then left across the covered bridge. At the other side of the covered bridge, go straight to the vista. From here, follow the trail to the vista (there are trail markers that will direct you).

Initially, the trail follows the river which is really beautiful with lots of moss covered rocks and tall evergreens. A trail marker will direct you on a short detour to Devil's Oven, a small cave in a cliff. This is a strenuous, very steep side trip, but it is fun and the cave is kind of neat, so I would recommend it. You can either continue to follow the trail to the vista, or you can continue along the river until you are even with the vista (you will need to use a map to figure this out), then turn left and climb up the hill. This is a challenging ascent that will get your hands involved.

When you come upon the trail, turn right to the overlook over the valley to the south. It is a really beautiful sight so I would recommend bringing a plum or nectarine to enjoy up there. Take the spur back to the Orange Trail loop. Turn right to take the upper half of the Orange Loop back to the parking lot. The trail will split again after a bit, stay right. The trail will hit a small stream and follow that for a bit with a trail branching off to the right. Ignore it, stay straight, and you will arrive at the base of the falls. Climb up the rocks (not the steep rocks in sight of the falls but the ones a little tucked away that look more used by hikers), and turn left to return to the car.

Below is a GPS-generated map of this hike.