Devil’s Hopyard State Park
1000 acres in East Haddam, CT
Parking: Medium sized lot at 8 Foxtown Rd, East Haddam, CT. There are also a number of other small lots and pull-offs to access different trail sections.
The heart of Devil’s Hopyard is the 60ft Chapman Falls located just below the meeting of Hopyard and Foxtown Rds. There are parking areas a short distance on either side of the falls for an easy walk to a natural rock viewing platform. The falls tend to rush year round but as New England Waterfalls notes, “During extremely dry weather, the falls may lose its block formation and become weak-flowing horsetails.” People often swim in the small area at the base of the falls.
The most popular hiking loop is the Orange Vista loop that starts at the covered bridge downstream from the falls. At about a quarter mile the trail splits, though it isn’t the most obvious fork. Heading left continues uphill for quite a while in remarkably open forest. This section of the forest sustained a fire in March 2012 which burned an area of about 130 acres. You will likely notice a few scorched trees, though most of what burned was leaves and fallen timber along the ground. At almost a mile the trail descends shortly to the Vista Cliff Overlook. The view south surveys the forested hills towards Lyme and the DEEP notes the characteristic U-shape of a glacially modified valley. The return trail descends among the rocks in the sharper contours near Eightmile River amidst pines and mossy boulders. There is a short side trail up a steep hill to Devil’s Oven. The small “cave” is a three foot wide fracture in the sulfidic schist and gneiss that narrows for about 15 feet into the rock.
On previous visits, I’ve also explored the unexplored paths around the camping area and the white trails closer to Foxtown Rd. At the time they were sparsely marked and navigating them was unsuccessful. I haven’t yet explored the red and yellow trails west of Hopyard Rd though from speaking with those who have they are highly recommended and tend to be quieter than the trails east.
Fishing is allowed on this section of the Eightmile River and is mainly trout. From Foxtown Road to the dam at Mt. Archer Road the trout must be a 9″ minimum length.
Established as a park in 1919, it is the site of a 1700s mill. There are two main stories for the name of the park. First, in the superstitious colonial times the symmetrical potholes around the falls were thought to have been the devil’s footprints. He had gotten his tail wet while walking along the river and angrily clambered up the falls. The second states that a farmer in the named Deebe grew hops. Over time Deebe’s Hopyard morphed into Devil’s Hopyard.
Peter Marteka shared the scientific theory behind the potholes from Norman Gray,
a University of Connecticut professor of geology and geophysics, came up with a scientific theory of how the potholes were formed in the gray schist of the falls. It was mere grains of sand caught in forever swirling water eddies. Gray believed that the water currents could be compared to the air currents within a tornado.
Peter Marteka – Tales Of Witches And Devils In The Potholes Of Chapman Falls (2014)
CTMQ – TSTL’16.13: Devil’s Hopyard
New England Waterfalls – Chapman Falls