Devil’s Hopyard State Park

Devil's Hopyard Small Falls - Photo by Kevin Pepin

Devil's Hopyard Small Falls - Photo by Kevin Pepin

What: State Park / Waterfalls
Where: 366 Hopyard Road, East Haddam, CT (Map)
Trail Map: Click here (PDF)

There are many things to do when arriving at Devil’s Hopyard State Park. Activities that are open to the public include hiking, youth camping, camping, stream fishing, bird watching, bicycling,  and picnicking.

Some of the most beautiful landscapes can be found right in the park. Vista Point, which is located at the end of the Blue Trail, is a cliff that stands 150 to 175 feet above the majestic Eightmile River. Other attractions include the “mini falls”.

Much of the wildlife at the park is worth seeing. There are two different types of deer, many species of frogs, turtles, fish, fishers and many of the state’s protected bird species.

History:

At some time prior to 1800, there was a malt house near a small tributary of the Eightmile River called Malt House Brook, on George Griffin’s farm. Although the malt house was abandoned prior to 1814, during the period of its operation, Griffin grew hops in a small clearing — the “hopyard” — beside the road running through the area now called Devil’s Hopyard. But the Devil’s presence in this hopyard is not so easily explained. The “devil” part focuses on the potholes near the falls, which are some of the finest examples of pothole stone formations in this section of the United States. Perfectly cylindrical, they range from inches to several feet in diameter and depth. These potholes were formed by stones moved downstream by the current and trapped in an eddy where the stone was spun around and around, wearing a depression in the rock. When the rock wore itself down, another would catch in the same hole and enlarge it. We know this now, but to the early settlers the potholes were a great mystery that they tried to explain with references to the supernatural. They thought that the Devil had passed by the falls, accidentally getting his tail wet. This made him so mad he burned holes in the stones with his hooves as he bounded away.

In 1919, the former State Park and Forest Commission obtained an 860-acre parcel located in the Millington section of East Haddam. The principal feature of the park, Chapman Falls, drops more than sixty feet over a series of steps in a Scotland Schist stone formation. The falls also once powered “Beebe’s Mills”, which were named after the original owner.