While the Connecticut Forest and Park Association has over 800 miles of Blue Blazed Trails in the state, the trail to start them all is the Quinnipiac Trail, adopted in 1929. Today the trail is 24 miles long and crosses through the extremely popular Sleeping Giant State Park. We wanted to get away from the crowds so we headed to Naugatuck State Forest and a much quieter section of the Quinnipiac Trail.
I would much rather do a loop hike over an out and back so once we parked at the trailhead on Downs Road in Hamden we set out on the white blazed Brooksvale Trail. The Brooksvale Trail is fairly easy with many smooth sections. You can tell that they have re-routed the trail along here in spots, so be mindful to follow the white blazes. Brooksvale Trail ends at the boundary for Hamden’s Brooksvale Park. We followed a forest road for a short bit before turning back into Naugatuck State Forest and Brooksvale Road.
Brooksvale Road is a wide forest road trail. It has yellow blazes and is very easy to follow.
After crossing Brooksvale Stream we met up with the Blue-Red Blazed Cromie Road Trail. Being a forest road, this was once again a very easy, smooth trail to follow. A short distance down the road there is a little spur path that leads to a Youth Camping Area. There were tents set up so we decided to not go explore, as we didn’t want to bother whoever was there. The Blue-Red trail follows Cromie Road for another two-tenths of a mile before it turns to the left and becomes a normal, single track hiking trail and starts heading upward. After around two and a half miles of easy trails, our legs were warmed up for our ascent of Mt. Sanford.
At only 890 feet Mt. Sanford isn’t a huge super difficult mountain, but it can certainly get your heart and lungs going. To get to the summit of Mt. Sanford we headed south on the Blue Blazed Quinnipiac Trail. Had we gone north we would have ended up going toward Roaring Brook Falls. We took our time with the ascent and enjoyed occasional views out into Bethany.
The summit of Mt. Sanford has an opening so that you can sit and enjoy the views to the west. We relaxed on the rocks while enjoying a snack. There was a couple that was a little bit ahead of us at the summit, and they were the only people we saw on our entire hike. It was great to feel like we had the whole state forest to ourselves.
After our break, we headed down Mt. Sanford along the Quinnipiac Trail. There were a few sections that were a little rocky and steep, but nothing really technical. Be careful to stay on the trail in this area as it goes around YMCA Camp Laurel. You will be able to see parts of the camp along the hike, but it is private property and it is important to respect that.
Altogether our hike was 5 miles. You can do a loop with just the Blue-Red and Blue-Blazed Trails that is just a little over 3 miles if you are looking for something shorter. Either way, it is good to check out the Naugatuck State Forest Map before heading out.