Directly adjacent to the scenic Mattatuck State Forest and nestled in the wooded hills of Connecticut is Black Rock State Park. Less than 10 minutes away from Watertown, CT, the land was originally home to several Native American Tribes such as the Paugussett, Mohegan, and Tunxis. In fact, tribal artifacts such as arrowheads and carved stone tools are still being found in the park today.
In the 1650s, the tribes granted early settlers access to their lands and gave them permission to mine the area for "black rock," more commonly known today as graphite lead. This dark black mineral inspired the park's name and stuck with it through the years. In 1927 this land was gifted to the state of Connecticut by a group of concerned citizens dedicated to preserving the natural forests of Connecticut.
At almost 440 acres, Black Rock State Park has plenty to offer the RV camper looking for a stop on their road trip. Hiking, camping, and fishing are just a few of the things to do in Black Rock State Park. Anglers will love fishing in the park's streams, Black Rock Pond, or even the nearby Black Rock Lake. In fact, the park is one of only 12 bodies of water in the entire state that has been officially recognized as a Trout Park. The beautiful, calm waters are shaded by large native pine and oak trees, giving guests plenty of areas where they can park the RV and enjoy the cool fresh air.
Guests should take note of the park's unique policy for pets. Pets are allowed on the hiking trails and picnic areas but are not permitted on the beach or within the campgrounds. Visitors will need to make sure that their pets are kept on a leash of no more than six feet at all times.
Navigation to Black Rock State Park is relatively easy since visitors will be able to follow paved state highways and local roads straight to the park's entrance. Once inside of the park, all major roads continue to be paved, providing a smooth ride to the campsite. Campers will want to be cautious and drive slowly as the roads can be narrow at times when approaching individual campsites. Additionally, most of the roads are shaded by large, native pine, oak, and hemlock trees, so be wary and watch for any low-hanging branches that may obstruct larger rigs from passing through. There is a limited number of roads designed for vehicles, but there are many different pathways that make it easy to navigate the park on foot or by bicycle.
Black Rock State Park has one campground with a total of 78 sites. A select number of these sites are reserved for tent-only camping. During peak season, the sites are available by reservation only. Some of the sites are located in more wooded areas, while others are located in open fields. The maximum RV length that can be accommodated is 35 feet, and there are a variety of pull-through and back-in sites. Guests will want to be careful when booking to make sure that their preferred campsite is selected.
None of the sites have water hookups, and they are all non-electric. However, bathroom and shower facilities as well as a dump station are provided and can be found on the campground in a central location. Each site includes a fire pit and picnic table which campers can use freely. There are no pets allowed in the campgrounds, and alcoholic beverages are prohibited. Campers can purchase firewood from the Park Store or from any local store within the state of Connecticut.
During a short time near the beginning and the end of peak season, all of the 78 campsites in the Black Rock State Park Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Campers can arrive and claim any available campsite after checking in with the park office.
There are four rustic cabins available by reservation only. The cabins can accommodate up to six people, and a maximum of two vehicles are allowed per cabin. A minimum two-night stay is required to book the cabin, and no one under the age of 21 is able to reserve the property. The cabins come equipped with two sets of bunk beds and a double bed. They do not include a kitchen or bathrooms, though campground bathroom facilities can be located nearby. Guests should also be aware that no utensils or linens are provided and no food can be prepared inside of the cabin. Pets, smoking, and open flames of any kind are also prohibited inside of cabins.
Doing yoga in the peaceful stillness of nature is a rejuvenating experience that will help guests relax more deeply. Visitors who bring their yoga mats can easily find a quiet spot in nature where they can meditate and re-center themselves. Black Rock State Park is aptly suited for this because it is mostly forested, meaning that there are very few places with roads large enough for loud vehicles to pass by and interrupt or cause distractions.
Swimming is permitted in designated areas of the park, and Black Rock State Park is one of the few parks that always has a lifeguard on duty. However, swimmers will want to use caution as swimming in natural waters always poses a risk of rough or uneven ground, sudden drop-offs, sharp rocks, and other underwater hazards. Swimmers should be cautious and avoid jumping or diving into waters. It is also good practice to never swim alone even when lifeguards are present.
Hiking is a popular activity at Black Rock State Park not just for the scenic views, but also because the trails are one of the few pet friendly areas of the park. The popular Mattatuck Trail leads guests on a scenic tour and has many side trails leading to picturesque meadows, Black Rock Lake, and other hidden natural wonders. The variety of paths gives visitors the option of choosing how long they wish to explore the park with some trails taking as short as 30 minutes to complete.
Filled with large, mature trees that offer tons of cool shade to rest under, Black Rock State Park is the perfect place to have a picnic. Guests can enjoy a nice, quiet spot overlooking the lake waters or pick a more forested area where they can nature watch while they eat. Certain areas of the park are designated for picnicking and offer tables and benches, but guests can also spread out a blanket and chairs anywhere in the park. Just be sure to be respectful of the natural environment and leave the area as you found it.
Tucked away from the city lights, Black Rock State Park is the perfect place to spend a night outside under the stars. There are plenty of open fields and meadows where visitors can see an unobstructed view of the twinkling night sky. Campers will want to bring their constellation atlas with them and make sure they take note of all the many different constellations. Bring a telescope or binoculars for an up close look.
Black Rock State Park is unique in that it offers both pond and stream fishing. Anglers can try their luck in the flowing waters of Branch Brook or fish for trout in the Black Rock Pond. The park is a certified Trout Park, and the waters of Black Rock Pond are annually stocked with trout. Additionally, the water is very easily accessible making this the perfect location for novice and beginner-level anglers to cast their first line.