River Highlands State Park
177 acres in Cromwell, CT
Parking: Medium sized lot near 115 Field Rd Cromwell, CT
My first visit to River Highlands State Park was when I camped here on my paddle of the Connecticut River in August 2019. However, I landed and camped in a rainstorm and left just after sunrise so didn’t get to explore the park at all.
River Highlands is the first legitimate camping are on the river if coming from the Massachusetts border at a distance of about 32 miles. There are two campsites, one right near the shore and a second in a clearing just set back among the trees. Both have fire rings however at my last visit both the picnic tables were at the shoreline site. There is access to a slightly dilapidated outhouse. The overlook is also a steep climb uphill from the sites.
The sites can be reserved through Reserve America for $5 per night to the DEEP (plus a $9 “transaction fee” for Reserve America). Each site allows a max of 6 campers and stays are limited to one night.
My second visit was in the midst of my speed run of the 2019 Sky’s the Limit Hiking Challenge locations (movie link). I didn’t have enough time to get to the next location before sunset so I stopped for a quick hike here.
From the park entrance I hiked down the white trail connected to the red and then to the yellow. I had planned a route at the trailhead kiosk, but the trails were hard to navigate once I started hiking. I would recommend bringing a trail map. Once I made it there the yellow trail was amazing a hushed pine ravine snaking back and forth a stream as it heads towards the Connecticut River. Continuing down it would have brought me back to the campsite I stayed at, but instead I climbed up an unblazed trail to the overlook.
Unfortunately, the overlook is only a narrow vista of the river below. I was there in late fall which meant I was able to see a bit more, but was left underwhelmed. There is a weathered bench and an even more weathered info kiosk that is pretty outdated. It was close to sunset so I went back up the yellow trail taking the green blazes back to the parking lot.
I look forward to a return visit and a true exploration of the park and perhaps I’ll be able to hear the Devil’s Blowhole…
Purchased in 1995 for $1.2 million and opened to the public on June 2nd, 2001. It was almost named ‘Blow Hole State Park’.
CTMQ – River Highlands State Park (2017)
New York Times: Christine Woodside – A New Park to Open On Bluff in Cromwell (2001)