It’s arguably one of the most scenic hiking trails and series of waterfalls in Connecticut, yet it seems like hardly anyone outside of Beacon Falls has ever even heard about Spruce Brook Ravine (also known as High Rock Park). The trail’s towering trees, deep ravine, and multiple waterfalls makes it feel more like a mountainside in New Hampshire than it does the Naugatuck Valley. Whether in spring, fall, or the dead of winter, Spruce Brook Ravine should be on everyone’s list of Connecticut waterfall must-sees.
About Spruce Brook Ravine
The area is a part of the Naugatuck State Forest, which covers almost 5,000 acres and is spread across Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Oxford, Bethany, Hamden, Cheshire, Ansonia, and Seymour.
The forest originated with Harris Whittemore, an industrialist and member of the State Forest and Park Commission. In 1921, Mr. Whittemore began buying parcels of land in the Naugatuck Valley, intending to donate them to the State.
Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to realize his dream, but after his death in 1928, his family continued to acquire land, and in 1931, almost 2,000 acres were donated in his memory. Spruce Brook Ravine is just one of the gems contained in the immaculate forest system.
The trail is less than a half mile each way, making for a round trip of under a mile. Depending on how long you take to stop and enjoy the beauty of the falls, you can be back to your car within a half hour—but why rush? Bring your camera and a picnic lunch to make an afternoon out of the trek which features plunges and cascades up to 15 feet high.
If You Want to Go
To get to the trail, you need to follow a bumpy dirt road which runs parallel to a railroad track. There are two parking areas for you to choose from, though the second parking area is sometimes closed due to bridge issues. Swimming is prohibited due to safety concerns, but feel free to bring your favorite four legged friend: Dogs can go hiking, too!
The falls are free and open to the public year round, but the best time to visit is likely early spring to late fall. The winter is sure to offer spectacular views of frozen falls and wintry landscapes, though, so it all depends on what you’re looking for. Just make sure you dress appropriately for the season.
This post was originally published in 2009 but has been updated for accuracy and style.