Tucked into a quiet corner of southeastern Connecticut, you'll find Devil's Hopyard, a surprisingly rugged, forested park with gorgeous waterfalls, a rushing river and curious geological formations. The root of the park's strange name is uncertain (several theories are claimed), but what is certain is that Devil's Hopyard is a quiet, beautiful place to hike, bike, fish and more. An extensive trail network allows access to the park's rocky ridges, dense forests, placid ponds, and buzzing marshes, as well as the Eightmile, a short but dramatic river complete with rapids and waterfalls. Chapman Falls, a 60-foot multi-staged cascade, is the most famous of these, and draws onlookers and photographers from around the region.
The park, sitting at about 860 acres, contains a diverse array of habitats and flora, which in turn provides habitat for quite a variety of wildlife species. Devil's Hopyard is one of the premier birding locations in Connecticut, and the park hosts many reptiles, amphibians, and mammals too. Fishing is another big draw; anglers can pull brook and brown trout, among other species, from the Eightmile.
Devil's Hopyard has a quiet, modest campground sporting 21 sites that are suitable for RVs. Spots are in a lovely forested setting and are quite close to the river. Reservations are taken up to eleven months in advance.
Devil's Hopyard can be accessed from a variety of routes, depending on where you're traveling from. CT-2, CT-11, CT-9 and I-95 all pass within thirty minutes of the park, and there's plenty of paved, well-maintained roads leading into the park itself. Hopyard Road and Foxtown Road both cut through the park, offering access to the main trailheads and camping areas. Driving is fairly stress-free in this part of the country - there are no steep hills or sharp turns to worry about. The actual RV campground loop is gravel, but it is well-kept.
Several towns offering amenities and supplies are close by. Colchester, CT is just a 15 minute drive to the north, while the city of Norwich, CT is just half an hour to the east.
The campground road is gravel, though the rest of the park's roads are paved. The campground is arranged as a spur with a small loop at the end; there's ample space between sites so maneuvering to park shouldn't offer much of a challenge. It should be noted that spots here are on the smaller side, ranging from 25 to 35 feet in length. While no trailheads lead directly from the campsite, several are just a short walk or drive away. Trailheads, as well as day use areas along the Eightmile River, and Chapman Falls, all have parking areas available.
Devils Hopyard's quiet campground sports 21 sites suitable for RVs and trailers. Spots are set in a lovely wooded area, among stately oaks, maples, and beeches, and the campground sits just a stone's throw from the rushing Eightmile River. Camping is primitive here; there's no water, electric or sewage hookups. No dump station is available at the park either, but there are plenty within a short drive. Water spigots, a vault toilet and a trash/recycling station are available, though.
Campers should note that no pets are allowed in the campground, or at the park. Also, there are several restrictions regarding firewood, as invasive pests such as emerald ash borers (which can be carried in firewood) are a significant threat to the area's hardwood forests.
Reservations at Devil's Hopyard can be made up to eleven months in advance.
The Eightmile River's waters churn and rumble their way across eastern Connecticut. Though not far from some major cities, the Eightmile's watershed is surprisingly rural, and both forests and swamps can be found lining its banks - the Eightmile, in fact, is designated as a National Scenic and Wild River. At Devil's Hopyard, there are several great places for anglers to access this beautiful waterway. Brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, bass, and chain pickerel are just a few of the species that can be pulled from the river.
There are many miles of biking trails at Devil's Hopyard, with stretches ranging from mellow to quite challenging. Ride near the gentle banks of the Eightmile River or head towards some of the park's steeper, rockier terrain. Either way, you'll get to enjoy the sylvan scenery and some fresh woodland air. Though it's not far from bustling cities, you'll find surprisingly peaceful riding here. Riders should take care to try and avoid the early-spring season, which is often extremely muddy.
Nearly one thousand acres of woodlands, rivers, creeks and scenic rock outcroppings await hikers at Devil's Hopyard. An extensive trail network means visitors can explore nearly every corner of the park by foot, and hikes are available at all skill levels - enjoy a leisurely stroll under mighty maples and oaks or take a long day hike across more rugged terrain. You'll almost certainly catch a glimpse of the park's abundant bird life; in spring, look for newts and salamanders crossing the trail.
New England is famed for its foliage, and though Devil's Hopyard does not sit as far north as some of the more popular "leafer" destinations (e.g. Vermont) it nevertheless boasts a brilliant fall display. Sugar and red maples, beeches, red and white oaks, birches, cherries and more put on vibrant, fiery hues during autumn. Peak color for much of Connecitcut occurs throughout the month of October. Hike, bike or just enjoy a picnic and take in the beautiful but ephemeral display.
Photographers can have a field day, or two, at beautiful Devil's Hopyard. The most popular attraction is surely Chapman Falls, a gorgeous, sixty-foot, multi-staged waterfall that cascades over a series of dramatic rock outcrops before plunging into a crystalline pool. But the falls is far from the only photogenic feature; thick broadleaf forests filter sunlight through their lush green canopies in the summer, while autumn brings a blaze of color to the tree-tops. Springs sees the blooming of wildflowers across the forest floor, while winter imbues scenes with a white quietude, and it sometimes freezes part of the falls, too.
There are year-round wildlife viewing opportunities to be had in the woods of Devil's Hopyard. Deer, porcupine, cottontail rabbits and red foxes are a few of the many mammalian critters that inhabit the park. Come spring, listen for the calling and chorusing of frogs, such as green frogs, bullfrogs, spring peepers, and gray tree frogs. The park also boasts some of the states best birding - migratory visitors include ovenbirds, blue-winged warblers, yellow-throated warblers, black and white warblers, American redstart, Baltimore orioles and many, many more.