Miles of trail open for exploration at Hamden's Sleeping Giant State Park
It’s a late Sunday in May and the weather is perfect for a hike on any of the 32 miles of trail in Connecticut’s 1,500-acre Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden. Today, volunteer trail guide Mick Martucci of the Sleeping Giant Park Association is leading about a dozen hikers on an introductory trek.
“I love this place,” Martucci says. “I come up here all the time. I try to hike two or three times a week – I’ve hiked all the trails many, many times.”
The group includes several neuroscientists, a lawyer, parents and their children – and one public radio reporter.
“We just moved here and we decided this was going to be an awesome way to show him around,” says Victor Olmedo, pointing out his wife, Julia Xia, and their 6-year-old son, Calvin.
“I wanted to go for a hike and had no one else to go with me, so I figured what better way than to go with a group of people?” says Emily Griffin of Meriden.
Helmuth Sanchez of New Haven is examining a fallen branch, deciding if it’s the right one to use as a trekking stick.
“I don’t know North American standards, but I suppose it works,” jokes Sanchez, who’s already found sticks for his kids, 10-year-old Anabel and 12-year-old Albert, who are accompanying him.
After about 45 minutes of walking uphill past (and over) streams and small chasms, Martucci stands on a rock face and points out the New Haven skyline.
“We’re on the white trail up on, probably, I think, the best overlook in the park,” Martucci says, peering. “You can see New Haven out in the distance, East Rock, and on a really clear day you can see Long Island. It’s a little hazy out there right now.”
After a summit break for snacks, water and photos, Martucci gathers his fellow hikers.
“I haven’t lost anybody yet – well, not that we know of. How would we know that they’re lost? We never saw them again,” Martucci jokes, the full group following down the trail.
Back at the trailhead, Sanchez, who still has walking stick, is effusive.
“I love it, I enjoy it, and certainly I’m coming back again,” he says.
His favorite part?
“Certainly the summit, but really everything. I didn’t know this place, so of course every moment now is a new experience. I really love it. I really love it.”
Tom Morse works as a research scientist at the Yale School of Medicine. But in his free time, he’s a volunteer trail guide and Sleeping Giant Park Association board member.
“I would like to invite everyone to come, because I just think it’s great for our society to get out, get away from the screens, the cell phone addiction, and just come out and relax, unwind, and recharge,” Morse says.
Martucci agrees that the park is special. So why make a point to try to get new visitors rather than keep it more to himself?
“It’s a big place,” he says. “I think it’s good for people to know what Connecticut has and there’s so many incredible places in Connecticut.”
Sleeping Giant State Park is located at 200 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518. Entry and parking are free for Connecticut residents and between $6 and $15 for non-residents, depending on time of day and day of the week.