Just a short distance from the bustling downtown of New Haven you can find East Rock Park. The park is hard to miss while driving along I-95 or I-91. It looks as if it is a giant red wall protecting the city.
Encompassing 425-acres East Rock Park is a multiuse destination for locals and tourists alike. There are ball fields, basketball courts, and open spaces for kite flying or Frisbee. In the winter an ice skating rink is set up and the North Meadow becomes a prime sledding location. The true highlight of the park for most people is the open summit at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. People are drawn from all over to this 112-foot tower perched on the 365-foot summit honoring the New Haven men who gave their lives in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, and Civil War. From this location you can look out over the city of New Haven and out onto Long Island Sound.
To reach the summit you could drive up or ride your bike along the paved road. If you are looking to get more exercise in then you can hike along some of the ten miles of trails in the park making your way to the summit. Throughout the park there are 4 main trails for hiking and trail running. The White Trail makes a loop around East Rock bringing you along the Mill River and over to the Lake Whitney Dam. The Blue Trail makes a semi circle along the north end of the park connecting the Pardee Rose Garden to the Yellow and White Trails. At the south end of the park you can find the Orange Trail which brings you up Snake Rock and Indian Head.
To reach the summit of East Rock though you will want to take the Yellow Trail. This north to south trail goes over Whitney Peak and East Rock. The trail also takes you along the Giant Steps. These impressive rock steps can get you up and down the summit quickly. A fair warning though they are steep, climbing 285 feet very quickly, and you will be thankful for the metal railing to help you along. The summit of East Rock makes a great place to have a picnic too. There are some picnic tables or you can bring a blanket and enjoy the view looking down at New Haven.