Black Rock State Park
444 acres in Watertown, CT
Parking: Two lots at 2065 Thomaston Rd, Watertown, CT
Black Rock State Park offers camping, swimming at Black Rock Pond, a nearly 2 mile section of the Mattatuck Trail, and about a mile of other trails.
The main trail here is the blue blazed Mattatuck Trail though most visitors of the park seem to walk the unblazed paths near the pond and around the campground. These are well traveled and easy to follow.
I used the park as a starting point to explore Leatherman Cave in the Mattatuck State Forest. Heading south past Black Rock Pond will cross over Bidwell Hill Rd and Rt 6 and from there it is just under a mile to the cave.
A note for those seeking out the cave, after .8 miles you’ll be at an expansive overlook with an arrow on the stone telling you to basically go back the way you came. You’re standing above the cave at this point. Heading back the trail will veer to the left down into the trees and you’ll see a sign for the Jericho Trail junction. Turn left at the sign and the blazes will take you to and through the cave. You can continue along the Mattatuck to the Branch Brook Trail to make a return loop to Black Rock of about four miles.
Black Rock Campground offers 75 campsites within walking distance to the beach and fishing pond. Four rustic cabin sites are also available. Each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. There are two full bath houses with showers and flush toilets. A dumping station is available for use, however electric and water hook-ups are not available.
Campsites can be reserved through Reserve America here and are typically $17/night for CT residents and $50/night for the cabins. Most sites are in open fields in close proximity to each other.
Established as a state park in 1926 when the state purchased 181 acres here and added some of a 532 acre donation to reach its current size. From the DEEP’s site,
“Both fact and legend account for the name “Black Rock.” Early settlers to the Naugatuck Valley were given rights to mine graphite lead by the resident Indians around 1657. The description given the contrasting darker-colored rock material has persisted through the years.
Early use of the area by Native Americans has been confirmed by the arrowheads and stone implements. Artifacts unearthed at the park belonged to members of the Mohegan, Paugussett and Tunxis tribes. Black Rock was given to the people of Connecticut in 1926 through the efforts of Black Rock Forest, Incorporated, a citizen’s conservation group interested in woodland preservation. Development of access roads and facilities later became part of the Civilian Conservation Corps’ economic recovery program.”
Peter Marteka – The Black Rocks Of Watertown (2014)
CTMQ – TSTL’16.6: Black Rock State Park (2016)