Giuffrida Park and Chauncey Peak

This is a beautiful picturesque hike up Chauncey Peak and around a beautiful crescent shaped lake/damn. The ascent and descent are short but memorably steep! The elevation gain is a little short of 400 feet and it should take no longer than 2.5 hours to traverse the loop trail around the lake. It is 2 miles and I recommend walking through the large rock cleft type feature once you descend down the mountain on the opposite side of the lake to see the cave (pictures below). You will also see hawks on the hunt or simply riding the thermal winds. You can see a rock quarry and walk along side it, Mount Higby, Sleeping Giant, Castle Craig, Hartford (from the quarry side) and even Long Island or New Haven from Chauncey Peak if visibility is good enough.

Wiki describes the location: "Roughly 0.75 miles (1.2 km) in diameter, Chauncey Peak is located within the town of Meriden, Connecticut. Although Chauncey Peak is described by some sources as part of Lamentation Mountain,[3] it rises more than 300 feet (91 m) above the common gap between the two, making it its own mountain by regional standards (see Four-thousand footers). Crescent Lake, (formerly called Bradley Hubbard Reservoir), lies nestled between Lamentation Mountain and Chauncey Peak. The lake provides emergency drinking water to the city of Meriden. Much of the east side of the mountain has been subject to quarrying; as of 2007, the quarry was .5mi (.8k) wide, roughly 3/4ths the width of the entire mountain. Interstate 91 cuts through the gap between Higby Mountain and Chauncey Peak to the north."

 

Some geologic features: Columnar Basalt, Trap Rock basalt and ridges, Talus Slope. Pick up any piece of that reddish brown rock you are walking over and realize that is the remains of 200 million year old molten lava that once covered the land. Wiki describes the origin of Chauncey Peak and the Metacomet Ridge:

"The origin of Chauncey Peak and the Metacomet Ridge dates back 200 million years ago with the rifting apart of North America from Eurasia in the process that would ultimately create the Atlantic Ocean. In the area that is now the Metacomet Ridge and surrounding sedimentary rock basin, massive basalt (trap rock) lava flows spread across the prehistoric rift valley, some of them several hundred feet thick, over a period of 20 million years. Sediment accumulated between lava flows and lithified into sedimentary rock. After the rifting processes ceased, layers of strata faulted and tilted upward. Subsequent erosion, glaciation, and uplift exposed the weather resistant edge of the trap rock lava sheets, creating the cliffline of the Metacomet Ridge as it is today. The mineral content and the shape of the ridge make possible a variety of microclimate ecosystems. Hot and dry cliff faces support plant and animal species uncommon so far north. Deeply gouged ravines support cooler climate species found in more northerly climes, while gradual backslope environments support species typical of the surrounding latitude. Talus slopes beneath cliffs accumulate minerals that support alkaline-loving plant species uncommon in surrounding acidic southern New England. Extensive cliffs provide ideal habitat and important migration corridors for raptor species."

Restrictions: This is a reserve water supply so swimming, fishing and boating are prohibited, as is rock climbing.

Directions: Take exit 8 off of I691 and get on Westfield Road. Stay there until you pass a Golf Course on your left. Go left at the stop sign. The park entrance will be there on your left (you might drive past it the first time!).

Alternatively, use my google maps page and click on the Giuffrida Park and Chauncey Peak link on the left to get directions. The trail starts near the parking lot. Walk parallel to the damn until you reach the blue blazed trail (going uphill).

Notice the grade of the mountain on the right in the image. Short by memorably steep going up and down. If you cannot make it up a hill for whatever reason you can simply hike around the lake using the white trail. I actually want to try this just so I can look up at the cliff faces from below them.

Once you hike up and around and down the mountain at the yellow trail--or across the small wooding bridge you will turn left to loop out on the other side of the lake. Follow that trail back to the parking lot.

If you so desire you could alternatively continue on the blue trail and hike up Lamentation mountain--which supposedly has some great cliff-walking---rivaling that found at Mount Higby.

 



Beautiful Columnar Basalt marks part of the ascent up the mountain.

Walking up the short but memorably steep climb to Chauncey Peak.

 

You have to navigate some rock steps here (minor climbing). I had to lift our 70lb shepard up about 5.5 feet otherwise she would not have made it. Dog lovers be forewarned as I do not think there are any ways around this.

 

View from Chauncey Peak

Steve showing off as he waits for us at the top...

 

Views from Chauncey Peak

On clear days you can see New Haven and even Long Island. Steve saw an airport on the shoreline with his binoculars! In addition, Castle craig, sleeping giant, mount higby, the hanging hills and so on are all visible from up here. Quite a spectacular view.

Quarry on the back end of Chauncey Peak

Old car in the woods. How did it get there?

Now that is a pretty picture. It got amazingly windy and cold on us up here. We think a cold front passed through which explains the wind, the temperature drop and far weather cumulus clouds.... You should be able to guess the time of year from the scenery...

Some sort of large rock cleft...

with a mysterious tunnel at the end...

Steve in the tunnel a few feet...

 

It goes back far judging by the echo when yelled into. If we had a flash light we probably would have went inside.... Next time!!!! :-)

Rock Cleft type structure from behind it. Note this is off trail. You pass right by it on a small wooden bridge so its hard to resist walking through the rock corridor until you get to the tunnel!

The back end of Crescent Lake in Giuffrida Park...where the mysterious tunnel drain out into...

Look close for the optical effect. The clouds were colored with pink and turquoise hues....(ice crystals in the clouds?)

Steve, not to be confused with the late and great, Irwin, was snake hunting or just trying to hurt himself. Not sure which one.

Up on top of that is where we came from! Cool huh? And is that a talus like slope??? Looks similar to me.

There are two lovely benches park on the return side of the lake for your relaxation pleasure. It is a beautiful scene to sit and watch the ducks or beavers or hawks or your dog play about on the water side after a nice hike...

The trail on the return side of the damn...

   
Video Files:

I recommend you right-click and

"save target as"

It will open in a new window if you just click it but you won't know how long the wait is...should be 2 to 5 minutes...

 

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