Sleeping Giant: Students and town residents enjoy the amenities of Hamden’s own state park

Lucas Devoe

Frisbees flew by overhead. Children ran around joyously. Bikers took bicycles off the backs of their cars. A park employee explained the trail color codes to an eager hiker. It was just another day at the beautiful Sleeping Giant State Park.

On a recent Thursday at the park, many visitors took time out of their day to enjoy a nice hike up the mountain. There are six color coded trails for the hikers to take.

“You better make sure you know the severity of each color,” said Marie Stillman of Cheshire.

Stillman and her son Jake chose to take the yellow trail, which is generally a gentler, easier path to the top of the mountain. The steep and rocky blue trail is a more difficult option to lead hikers to the scenic peaks of Sleeping Giant. Other trails, such as the appropriately named 1 1/2 mile Tower Trail, lead to a tower on the mountain rather than to the summit.

“This is a perfect place for a family to come and enjoy a day out in the sunshine and be one with the nature around them,” Stillman said. She then added, “The Quinnipiac students are also a delight. They will come and play with Jake and are never a bad influence.”

It was warm for this late afternoon in the early fall and the visitors made sure to take advantage of this good weather. In the grassy field near the parking lot young adults played a game of Ultimate Frisbee and others just sat and relaxed. Children played tag while their parents sat sipping coffee and talking.

Biker Stan Verlander, a history teacher at Branford High School, had just finished biking Mount Carmel Avenue and other surrounding roads.

“I just rode three miles around campus and now I am going to attempt to reach the top of the mountain by nightfall in order to see the sun set,” Verlander said.

When Verlander arrived at the park earlier in the afternoon, cars lined most of Mount Carmel Avenue and now his Subaru Outback appears only as a tiny speck in the distance. Most of those other cars had left for the day.

“Earlier today, I couldn’t find a parking spot. Now it looks like whenever I take off I’m going to have to bike back,” Verlander said with a laugh.

Sophomore finance major Ryan Wallace was there as part of an art class and recalled hiking the mountain many times before. “As a freshman a bunch of the guys went up to the castle and we barely knew each other. It was a huge bonding experience and something that all of us will never forget,” Wallace said.