Located on the New Haven-Hamden town line, East Rock Park is operated as a city park. It surrounds and includes the mountainous ridge named East Rock.
The park’s most famous feature is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on its summit. The monument is an example of 19th-century allegorical and ideal art on a grand scale. You can find information on all of these and more by clicking here.
As New Haven’s largest park, East Rock has a number of historic buildings and features. These include the historic Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the Pardee Rose Garden & Greenhouses, sports fields, and more than 8 miles of hiking trails.
In the 1880s a group of prominent citizens—including President Noah Porter, Yale’s president Simeon Baldwin, and Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Donald Grant Mitchell—pushed to establish East Rock as a public park. A competition to select a memorial design was held and Moffit and Doyle’s submission won.
The monument, completed in 1887, honors the 520 men and women of New Haven who died fighting in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. The monument’s two engraved tablets feature names and dates of battle and are bordered with half-round raised moldings adorned with regimental insignia.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, the focal point of East Rock Park, is an impressive 110-foot tall composition of base, shaft, and figures that honors New Haven men who served in four wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War. The granite pillar rises from a square pedestal and is topped by an angel holding an olive branch and holding a wreath.
Each of the four faces of the monument has a recess carved with the names of soldiers who died in one of the four wars memorialized, surrounded by half-round raised moldings. On the southwest face is a bas-relief showing Lee surrendering to Grant at Appomattox, and on the southeast side is a scene of Cornwallis surrendering at Yorktown.
The view from the top of East Rock Park is stunning. It stretches for miles, from towering green trees to downtown buildings that look like miniatures to the blue waters of New Haven Harbor. Browse around this site.
In the midst of Connecticut’s urban sprawl, East Rock Park provides a sense of mountains. The eponymous Traprock Ridge and its towering summit (plus the more modest Whitney Peak, Indian Head, and Snake Rock) define a city neighborhood and attract walkers, joggers, and runners all year round.
The most dramatic, and rewarding, way to experience the park is via the Giant Steps trail. Notched directly into the steep rock face, the stairway hugs the cliffs as it winds its way to the summit. The trail is somewhat precarious, but the view from atop the monument is breathtaking.
If you’d rather not take on the Giant Steps, the park has a paved road that leads all the way to the summit parking lot at the Soldiers and Sailors monument. This road was closed to vehicles during the pandemic, and the city is considering keeping it that way permanently, to prevent cars from causing dangerous driving accidents in this popular walking area.
East Rock Park has plenty of hiking trails. There are also paved roads open to traffic (closed on weekends).
The park is located on the New Haven / Hamden border and has a 427-acre layout which includes the mountainous traprock ridge known as East Rock, scenic paved roadways, woodland trails, and picnic areas at the base and summit of the eponymous rock.
The hikes in the park are a great full-body workout and the views are well worth the effort. We particularly enjoyed the Giant Steps, a set of steep and twisty steps with old iron stair rails that are hewn directly into the rock’s face.
The park is home to the Trowbridge Environmental Center which has displays and information about the flora and fauna in the College Woods section of the park and offers programs for the general public, schools, and organizations. See their program calendar for details. Discover more interesting articles.
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