While many universities need to provide trips to a mall or a pool, Sleeping Giant State Park provides the Quinnipiac campus with many opportunities to have fun within walking distance.
Some students, like sophomore political science major Cassidy Fitzgerald, said they enjoy hiking Sleeping Giant. Fitzgerald climbs the mountain almost once a week.
“It’s a nice state park for everybody to go and do whatever they want there, hang out in nature, get out there,’” she said.
Crystal Wen, a freshman MBA major, said she takes a different trail each time she hikes Sleeping Giant. Sleeping Giant gives students the chance to connect with people, whether or not they attend Quinnipiac, Wen said.
“Not just students in Quinnipiac but also people around in the community can go hiking and enjoy the beautiful scenery,” she said.
Junior Hannah Kissinger is the public relations representative of the new hiking club on campus. From a young age, Kissinger said she enjoyed hiking.
“I went hiking when I was little,” she said. “I always loved the environment … I went to a science high school so being outdoors is just another part of me. I can’t describe it.”
Kissinger said she prefers more rigorous hikes that challenge her “cardio wise.”
Sleeping Giant: History
While students take advantage of the activities that can be done on the mountain, not many know about the history of Sleeping Giant beyond “The Legend of the Bobcat,” read to us at orientation.
The mountain began to form after the supercontinent Pangea broke apart, according to “The Guide to the Geology of the Sleeping Giant State Park.” Due to a weak spot in the Connecticut valley, magma started to appear in the rift. Sandstone and other eroded rocks began to cover the magma in geologic time, which takes several million years.
The magma eventually settled and created rock formations. As the eastern part of Connecticut broke apart, it shifted the rock formations. The rocks start to erode, leaving nothing but fragments of magma. Magma erodes lethargically, and as the sandstone went away and made the flatlands, the magma formed various Connecticut mountains including Sleeping Giant. The final shaping of the mountain, however, was caused by the Ice Age, according to Professor Kristen Richardson, a laboratory instructor in the College of Arts and Scienes.
There is also a vast array of life currently on the mountain, with a “Nature Trail Guide” describing both its foliage and the animals that inhabit it, such as sugar maple trees, pine trees and carpenter ants.
Protecting the Giant
Richardson said it is important to conserve the state parks, as they have become smaller due to human involvement.
“When we cut down trees to put a house in the middle of a forest, we’re encroaching on those natural habitats,” Richardson said. “So any protected spots, such as the state park system, it’s important for us to support those efforts, because if we’re not careful, those pieces of land are going to disappear altogether.”
Richardson took her biology classes on a field trip to Sleeping Giant on Sept. 21, and will take another trip on Oct. 12. The students will learn about invasive species removal, and anyone will be able to come. While her students are not directly involved with cleanup of garbage on the mountain, Richardson felt it necessary to show her class how invasion of the environment works.
Wen said when she finds garbage, she collects it and throw it into the nearest trash bin. Fitzgerald has not seen a lot of garbage on the mountain, saying people are generally respectful of the environment.
Kissinger, in contrast, said she is upset with how the mountain is underutilized by the community, and how many do not seem to care about it.
“There’s nature out there, and it’s so cool that it’s right across the way from Quinnipiac,” she said. “I don’t know why people don’t take more advantage of it because it’s just a walk away.”