Governor Ned Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes today announced that Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden will reopen to the public beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, June 14. The park has been closed since May 15, 2018, when a tornado touched down on the park, completely decimating trees in the lower portion and causing significant damage elsewhere in the area.
Work has been underway for many months to remove thousands of damaged trees and make the park safe for visitors. Much of the tree work and clearing on the extensive trail network was accomplished by volunteers and coordinated by the Sleeping Giant Park Association. Final work on restoration of the main “Tower Trail” was completed earlier this week.
“I am pleased that this restoration work has been completed and we are again able to open this popular state park to our residents and visitors,” Governor Lamont said. “I look forward in the coming weeks to getting out onto the trails at Sleeping Giant and seeing the restoration work first hand. I want to thank all of the DEEP staff, contractors, and most especially the Sleeping Giant Park Association and their volunteers whose generous work over these many months helped get us to this point.”
“We know that the Sleeping Giant State Park reopening will be welcome news to so many people who love hiking with friends and family at the park, and are anxious to get back to these trails,” Commissioner Dykes said. “We are excited that the park is now ready to again welcome hikers to its many trails and vistas. We are grateful to the Sleeping Giant Park Association, which rallied so many members of our community to come forward to speed the restoration efforts.”
“I want to thank all of our association members and volunteers who invested so much time and effort restoring the extensive trail network at the ‘Giant’ to a safe condition, and I want to also thank the state and DEEP for allowing our association to have played such a significant role in this important work,” Sleeping Giant Park Association President Mike Miller said.
The cost of the restoration work has totaled about $735,000, approximately 75 percent of which is anticipated to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Soon, DEEP will begin a master planning effort for the area of Sleeping Giant that was so devastated by the storm. This will include a series of public meetings in Hamden later this summer to hear ideas from the public about what changes or improvements they recommend. Those ideas will be reviewed and evaluated, and a plan will be developed to guide further restoration efforts.
Beginning Friday, Sleeping Giant will be open to the public every day from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. As a result of the recently enacted “Passport to the Parks” program, vehicles that are registered in Connecticut receive free entry into Sleeping Giant and all of Connecticut’s state parks and forest recreation areas. At Sleeping Giant, out-of-state vehicles are charged a $15 parking fee on weekends and holidays, or a fee of $6 after 4:00 p.m. on those days. On weekdays (non-holidays) there is no parking fee for out-of-state vehicles.
Sleeping Giant encompasses over 1,400 acres of land, including almost two miles of mountaintop resembling a large human figure lying in repose, the “sleeping giant,” which is a popular feature of the south central Connecticut skyline. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails, including the 1.5-mile scenic “Tower Trail,” which leads to the stone observation tower on the peak of Mt. Carmel, providing excellent views of Long Island Sound and the New Haven area. It was designated a state park in 1924.
Connecticut has 110 state parks and 32 state forests located throughout the state, which include 14 campgrounds, 23 designated swimming areas, thousands of miles of trails, and hundreds of thousands of acres to enjoy. The state park system offers opportunities for hiking, camping, swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking, among many other outdoor activities. A directory of every state park in Connecticut can be found online by visiting www.ct.gov/deep/stateparks.