Exploring Connecticut: Hopeville Pond State Park
A Historic Park in the Heart of Connecticut
Hopeville Pond is nothing if not serene, it's generally clear waters only broken by the splash of swimmers or frogs. If you are looking for a light camping experience reminiscent of the sleep away camps of your youth, Hopeville is an excellent choice for a family vacation. Located in Griswold, Connecticut, Hopeville is primarily a camping park that features swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking and easy to medium difficulty hiking trails, as well as an interactive nature center.
An Ancient Site
Hopeville Pond has a very long history, as it was a popular fishing site for Mohegan Indians. Pre-colonization, the Mohegans constructed stone causeways and weirs to direct fish and eels into baskets for harvest. At low water levels these weirs can still be seen around the pond.
Once Europeans entered the area, the river waters flowing into and out of the pond were put to different use. In 1711, a sawmill was constructed by Stephen Gates on the Pachaug River side. As ownership of the land passed hands, a woolen mill and grist mill were added. Finally a satinate mill named Hope Mills was constructed, from which the nearby town of Hopeville took it's name. The town was prosperous until the late 1800s and early 1900s, when a series of fires destroyed the mills, church and several farms. They were never rebuilt. The state acquired the lands in the 1930s and transformed them into the park we know today.
Camping at Hopeville
Camping season runs from mid-April to the end of September. Hopeville Pond is one of the best campgrounds in Connecticut for RV camping. All of it's 80 camp sites are generously proportioned and centralized around toilets, water and showers. Each site offers a fire pit, picnic table and some have electricity hook-ups. The main camping area is bordered on three sides by the pond and features a beach on the northern shore and east-side boat launch. For a more secluded experience, the F circle campsites are inland and surrounded by tall, dense forest. A recreational field and ranger station separates the two areas. Fees for camping are $17/night for CT residents and $27 for non-residents. Local firewood is provided on site for a small fee, as Connecticut is one of many states that advises not to move firewood.
While you're camping at Hopeville Pond there are numerous other activities you can participate in.
- Swimming is the most popular activity other than camping at Hopeville. As mentioned previously, there is a beach in the main campground, but there is another, larger swimming area adjacent to the day use parking lot and picnic area. This swimming area is clearly delineated with floating markers and offers diving platforms and canoe rental.
- Fishing from shore or watercraft is also popular. For avid fishers, book on the pond's edge and you can get up in the early morning and fish right from your camp site.
- Several large fields provide space for sports recreation.
- Hiking is another option. Paved park roads connect the beach and campground, and the Hopeville Park grey blazed trail runs from the ranger station and main camp area through the woods to the beach. For a more difficult experience, the Nehantic Blue Blazed trail runs north from the beach and into neighboring Pachaug Forest Preserve. A round trip on this trail from your campsite to Mt. Misery in Pachaug is approximately five miles, including open field stretches with sun exposure and steep vertical climbs, making it a medium-hard trail if followed to its conclusion. However, the Hopeville Pond stretch is easy, and if you don't want to continue into Pachaug, turn around at Roode Road.
Directions and Hours
Hopeville Pond State Park is located off Route 201 in Griswold, Connecticut. From I-395 take exit 86 and follow signs to the park. At the "Y" intersection, take a right and follow to the park entrance off Route 201.
- The park is open sunrise - sunset every day of the year. The main gate to the campground is closed from September 30th to mid-April.
- There is no charge for day use on weekdays. On weekends there is a $9/$12 fee for residents/non-residents.
- Pets are not permitted in the campground or on the beach.
- In 2010, alcohol was prohibited in the campground for the first time during peak camping, May 11 - September 7.