Sleeping Giant State Park is located near Hamden, CT, and is a popular park. You can expect crowds on the weekends, especially with the stone tower, picnic areas, and many trails for all ages and abilities that offer views of south/central Connecticut and the Long Island Sound.
- Location – Sleeping Giant State Park
- Trail – 5-mile loop trail – Blue to White to Red to Yellow
- Parking – 41.42091, -72.89880 – There is plenty of parking, although it can still get crowded on the weekends. The address is 200 Mt. Carmel, Hamden, CT 06518. You can park in the parking lot or drive further up the road into the Park and park on either side of the road.
- Getting to the Trail – There are several trails to enter the park from the parking areas. I recommend using the map on the Sleeping Giant Website.
- Highlights – Boulder scrambles, ridge walk with good views, large stone tower, hardwood/Spruce forests.
- Sleeping Giant State Forest Website – 20th Edition by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association – American Legion and Peoples State Forest Trail – Pages 92-93.
- Gaiagps – GPA App used to create a trail, determine driving directions and parking, and send the track to iPhone.
Moderate to Hard – I chose to hike a harder loop, staying up on the escarpment for the first half of the hike. You can also take the easier red and yellow trails, which I did for the second half of the hike, or you can stay on the White trail.
Terrain – The loop I chose traveled through mostly hardwood forest and climbed up and down the rocky escarpment. This required me to scramble over small outcrops and rock jumbles, but I was rewarded with great views and vistas. I could even see the Long Island Sound.
Temperatures ranged from 28 – 42 degrees. It was cold but beautiful.
- Socks – Darn Tough Light-weight socks.
- Base Layers – Mid-weight Icebreaker tights and a mid-weight Icebreaker shirt.
- Pants – I wore my cargo shorts over my tights and was comfortable.
- Top – Montbell Chameece ultralight full-zip jacket and Feathered friends EOS Down jacket.
- Hat & Gloves – No hat and Melody Sensor gloves from OR.
- Northface Daypack
- Shoes – I use these comfortable trail runners for all my hiking.
- Hiking Poles – Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Poles – These carbon hiking poles have about 2,000 miles on them, and I’ve found nothing better as far as durability.
I’ve always avoided Sleeping Giant State Park because of its popularity and crowds, but I bit the bullet this past Friday! Hoping the crowds would be minimal, I got to the park when it opened at 8 AM. It was about two hours before I saw other hikers, so getting there early worked out well.
There were really two things I wanted to accomplish – seeing the famous CCC tower and getting a workout. I accomplished both of these and then some!
I prefer hiking loops instead of out and back, so I laid out a track in Gaia that took me out on the white and blue trails before looping back on the white trail. This was the route I intended to hike, but all good things…
Arriving at the park, I parked by the fence near the trailhead and walked up the road and down the trail. I realized I was going the wrong way, turned, and promptly headed back the other way before I was on the wrong trail again (sigh).
I backtracked a few hundred feet and found the faint white trail that I soon realized was headed straight up the nose of the giant. The trail was obviously not used much, and there were a few instances where I used my hands to pull myself up the short rock scramble. I did not see any white blazes until I reached the rocks.
The blue trail offered some scrambling and elevation gain and loss as I climbed up and down the escarpments’ bumpy outcroppings. I was rewarded with fantastic views, and the cool temperatures regulated my temperature. The steep downhills made my old knees glad I had hiking poles.
Sleeping Giant State Park Tower
The stone tower in Sleeping Giant State Park was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp and then renovated in the 1980s. I was lucky enough to have it to myself and quickly made my way up the wheelchair-accessible ramps to the top of the tower for fantastic views in every direction.
I often come across these CCC structures on my hikes and even came across them on my Arizona Trail thru-hike this year. I’m always amazed by the fine stonework, and how many of these structures have stood the test of time.
Continuing Along the White Trail
Leaving the blue trail, I picked up the white trail and came to one of my favorite overlooks, where I could see the Long Island Sound in the distance. There was a slight haze beneath the bright blue sky, but sparkling water out past the coastline was easy to spot.
The challenging blue trail had me running behind on time, and I was aware I needed to pick up my pace as I turned in a circle looking for the white trail. Peering over the side of a cliff, I saw the white blazes make their way straight down a wall of rock slabs. Sighing loudly, I put up my poles and lowered myself down the rocks. This was probably the most challenging part of the hike.
Reaching the junction of the red trail, I realized I did not have enough time to continue on the white trail and pulled out my map. Turning left, I followed the red trail down to the yellow trail and hiked back to the parking lot. The yellow trail descended more modestly and even had a few staircases, but it was more mellow than the blue or white trails, and I could make up some time.
Sleeping Giant State Park – Summary
Sleeping Giant State Park trails are challenging, but it is a beautiful park, and there are trails for all abilities and ages. As I hiked through the forests, I looked down along the road to see several people walking the 1.8-mile road up to the tower.
The park also has open fields and areas for picnics and other activities. It is definitely a park I would recommend, but you may want to consider visiting during the week when it is not so crowded.