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The true origin of the name Devil's Hopyard is lost to the ravages of time. There are a couple of theories, however. This much is known: In the early 1800s, there was a malt house on a small farm, and the farmer grew hops. As far as the “devil” aspect goes, it’s believed that the local people developed superstitions about the waterfall due to the natural potholes created by erosion. Another theory is that there was, at one point, an individual whose name was “Dibble,” and over time, the name was bastardized.
Devil’s Hopyard State Park became an official state park in 1919 to preserve the old-growth trees because residents were concerned about excessive logging operations in the area.
The closest town is Colchester, CT, which is about 10 miles to the north. One of the first towns to be founded in Connecticut, Colchester was established in 1692. Today, much of the town’s center are original, and several structures are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Colchester also has been designated a “community wildlife habitat” by National Wildlife Federation.
Covering around 1,000 acres, the lush green woods is almost jungle-like. High overhead, the branches of tall hardwood trees reach out to one another, forming a lacy canopy that filters sunlight in dapples onto the forest floor. Ferns, mosses, and other greenery coat every inch of the ground. A few miles of hiking trails meander through the verdant woods, most looping back onto itself. Bring your camera. The main star of Devil’s Hopyard State Park is the Chapman Falls. At 60 feet high, the water flows over a granite ledge, and after a short drop, it fans out over several small shelves into a shallow pool. In springtime, the waterfall is a raging, dramatic froth of water. After the summer heat sets in, the flow slows to a fragile trickle though it rarely ever stops. Elsewhere in the park are two smaller waterfalls and three historic bridges that are as old as this country is.
Renting an RV makes it easy to explore other nearby parks, too. Pachaug State Forest is the largest park in Connecticut, encompassing over 27,000 acres, and boasts over 100 miles of trails, some of which are multi-use. Like many other parks in Connecticut, Pachaug State Forest has several waterfalls, some appearing only after heavy rain or snowmelt while a handful flow year-round. Hikers may notice old stone walls that slice through the woods, which attests that this region was once farmland. While exploring the woods, take a moment to sniff at the air. There are large groves of Atlantic white cedar in the wetlands, which are especially rare trees nowadays.
Skip the long drive from the closest hotel by renting an Airstream instead. Wake up surrounded by nature and embark on an adventure within seconds. Devil’s Hopyard State Park RV campground has 21 sites near the waterfall. Though there are no hookups, there are faucets with drinkable water available and restrooms. Note that dogs are not allowed at this campground.
When space runs out, which happens occasionally during the summer, there are several other options in the area. You can RV camp near East Haddam at Wolf’s Den Family Campground. The campground boasts several amenities like an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a mini-golf course, and planned activities.
Acorn Acres RV campground outside Bozrah might be a good candidate to consider, too. Set in a sprawling 100-acre woods, the family-friendly campground has a billiards room, fun tractor hayrides, and a sports field for spontaneous games of basketball and baseball.
Older than America, Connecticut has several historic sites, landmarks, and structures that stand to this day thanks to excellent craftsmanship. There will come the day, though, when they succumb to weather, age, and time. Hop into a rental motorhome and search them out while they’re still here. The area has a few covered bridges and stone bridges, Outside Colchester is the Comstock Covered Bridge, which is one of the three covered bridges still standing in Connecticut. It was built in 1785 and has been lovingly repaired a few times since.
All along Connecticut’s shore are lighthouses, which were once used to guide wary sailors into a safe harbor or to warn them away from dangerous rocks. The original New Haven Lighthouse outside New Haven was built in the early 1800s and rebuilt in 1847 (the current version). Though it has been retired, the lighthouse and the outbuildings are open for tours.
While you're enjoying the deep woods, kick up your heels outside a camper rental and listen to the hum of insects and frogs as they prepare for the night. Watch stars appear in the night sky, undiminished by the light pollution of distant towns. Book an RV in Middlesex County and enjoy your time at Devil's Hopyard State Park.