The main feature of Old Furnace State Park is Ross Cliffs, a tall cliff edge, rare in eastern CT. With many trails, Old Furnace is a great hiking spot in this corner of the state with great views as well as opportunities for fishing, boating, and rock climbing.
As you’ll see if you watch the movie below, I often treat this park as a kind of choose your own adventure. It is one of my favorite spots to bring someone for a couple mile hike. I’ll ask them if they want to start at the main trailhead and take the longer hike in or start near Ross Pond and take the steep hike right up to the cliffs.
From the main parking area, the trail heads downhill towards Fall Brook. An easy jump over the brook offers trails heading off in several directions. I recommend heading to the right following the brook to catch the small waterfall before following the main trail towards Lower Ross Pond. After crossing a short bridge the trail will fork. Choose the right to walk through high pines or left to get the pond view. Either will bring you to the cliffs but there will be a steep climb either way.
The cliffs are about 500 feet of ridgeline with one main viewing area and a handful of smaller spots. The view east looks over the bowl of Lower Ross Pond to the next set of hills. You can also walk the base of the cliffs for a different experience, there are rough trails thanks to the spot’s popularity for rock climbing. If you’re feeling helpful bring a trash bag and grab some of the trash thrown from the cliffs.
A CFPA maintained trail also continues to the park’s southern border along Squaw Rock Rd.
There is along history of rock climbing here dating back to the 1950s. The primary climbing here is top roping and trad as the main sport route ‘La Mesa’ was chopped by a disgruntled local after the route was featured in Rock and Ice Magazine in April 2013.
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