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Connecticut State Parks

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USA Parks
Litchfield Hills Region
Dennis Hill State Park
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Dennis Hill State Park Dennis Hill Park II © Gary Jordan
Haystack Mountain, Mt. Greylock, the Green Mountains, and a portion of the State of New Hampshire can be seen from the summit in clear weather.
Dennis Hill State Park Dennis Hill Park I © Gary Jordan
Remnants of an old structure is seen as you drive through the park.
Dennis Hill State Park Dennis Hill Park III © Gary Jordan
A unique summit pavilion formerly a summer residence,is located at an elevation of 1627 feet. It is a popular place to picnic in the fall when on weekends the gates to the park are open.
Dennis Hill State Park Dennis Hill Park VI © Gary Jordan
Old stone gate entrance to the park
Dennis Hill State Park Dennis Hill Park V © Gary Jordan
This shrub and its unique color caught my eye as I drove into the park.
Dennis Hill State Park Dennis Hill Park IV © Gary Jordan
Maple trees with their colors adorn the road into the park on fall days.
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385 Burr Mountain Road
Torrington, Connecticut   06790

Phone: 860-482-1817
Toll Free: 866-287-2757
Email: park email button icon
Hike to the summit of this 240-acre estate for panoramic views reaching as far away as New Hampshire. Fall foliage season makes Dennis Hill an autumn wonderland.
Nature of the Area

A gently sloping road leads to the top of Dennis Hill. This description of the geology starts with a walk up the road. Follow the road when it bends to the right, and the yellow trail branches off. Look for a low outcrop below a stone wall.

The rock here is a medium grained, medium gray gneiss with a fold in it. Although the rock formation in this part of the park is described as schist, here the rock has less mica, and can be called gneiss.

The next outcrop, on the right after passing a grassy parking area, is nearly flat and has glacial striations (parallel grooves) on its surface (Figure 2). The striations were caused by frozen rocks at the bottom of the glacial ice that ground across the rock surface as the ice moved south. Glaciers covered Connecticut at least two times, the most recent from about 25,000 to 15,000 years ago.

This outcrop of schist (a rock containing lots of mica) has tiny crinkle folds barely visible in the western side of the rock. Gray, quartz veins cut through the east side. Continuing on around the curve, find another nearly flat outcrop. This one has a quartz vein, about one-foot wide, running through it.

A little more walking brings you to the top of the hill, and a very large outcrop surrounded by grass. Here, you get a great view of how much this rock has been deformed over time by continental collisions. Rock can actually fold when buried, heated deeply in the Earth, and under a lot of pressure. Many miles of rock sat above the surface you are now walking on. All of it was eroded away over millions of years.

Climb the tower on the pavilion to look at the wonderful view. On an average clear day you can see at least three states, more if the air is exceptionally clear. Walk back down the road to the grassy parking area where the white trail begins. Follow it. Soon you will walk over an outcrop of folded schist (Figure 5).

Continuing on down the white trail, look for a large outcrop on the left. This rock is fine-grained, dark-gray gneiss with a steeply dipping face (Figure 6).

At the end of the white trail, turn right onto the yellow trail. When the trail branches, follow the right branch. Soon you will reach a nice overlook with a circular stone wall, a stone, and a wooden, picnic pavilion. (Figure 7).

Continuing on the yellow trail, there are few outcrops until just before the point where the trail loops back toward the south. A low, steep outcrop with distinct flat, vertical faces there is made of quartzite. This rock probably started out as a sand beach, was gradually changed to sandstone, then under high pressure, and heat, recrystallized to quartzite (Figure 8).

Head back toward the parking lot on the yellow trail you already traveled, when it completes the loop. After passing the white trail, notice a small quarry that has been cut into the gneiss on the right. (Figure 11). Look for short, drill holes, the kind made with a hand drill and mallet. These holes are smaller, and shorter than those used for dynamite. There are several areas of tumbled down rocks along this section of the trail, but it seems that only one contains drill holes. Maybe you can find some in other areas.
History of the Area
Dennis Hill, a 240-acre estate, was gifted to the State of Connecticut in 1935 by Dr. Frederick Shepard Dennis, a noted New York surgeon. A unique summit pavilion (formerly summer residence), located at an elevation of 1627 feet, is a popular attraction. Haystack Mountain, Mt. Greylock, the Green Mountains, and a portion of the State of New Hampshire can be seen from the summit in clear weather.
Connecticut has made state parks, forests, trails, historic sites and beaches more accessible to our residents so they can enjoy the many attractions and beauty they offer. Under the Passport to the Parks program, parking fees are now eliminated at Connecticut State Parks for those with Connecticut registered vehicles. You can view the CONNECTICUT PASSPORT TO THE PARKS web page to learn more.

Dennis Hill State Park offers scenic picnic areas with tables. Grassy spots are perfect for blankets and basket lunches.
- Summit Trail: A 0.6-mile trail leading to the summit of Dennis Hill, offering panoramic views; moderate difficulty due to steep incline.

- Loop Trail: An easy 1.5-mile loop around the base of Dennis Hill, perfect for beginners or those seeking a leisurely hike.

- Pavilion Pathway: Short and flat pathway that leads directly from parking area to pavilion at top of hill; less than half a mile long.

- Picnic Area Access Route: Small offshoot path connecting main trails with picnic areas scattered throughout park grounds; length varies depending on specific location accessed.

- South Slope Descent Track : Steep downhill track descending south side of hill towards lower carpark ; approximately one third mile in length but challenging due its slope gradient .

-Nature Interpretive Walks : Guided walks available seasonally , focusing on local flora and fauna within state park boundaries ; lengths vary based upon guide's chosen route .

-Winter Trails : Cross-country skiing routes established during winter months when snowfall allows it ; distances range between two miles up-to five miles dependent on selected course .

-Bird Watching Paths - Several smaller paths branching out across various parts along primary hiking trails designed specifically for bird watching enthusiasts ;
length not specified as these are more exploratory natured pathways rather then fixed distance tracks .
Area Attractions
Campbell Falls State Park Reserve Location: North of Norfolk off Route 272 Activities: Hiking Charge: None

Haystack Mountain State Park Location: 1 mile north of Norfolk on Route 272 Activities: Hiking, Observation Tower Charge: None

John A. Minetto State Park, Torrington Location: 6 miles north of Torrington on Route 272 Activities: Cross-Country Skiing, Fishing, Hiking, Picnicking Charge: None

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
June 15 Wow by R. Mathers
park review stars; one to five Very Nice
April 17 Absolutely beautiful by tcrusius
park review stars; one to five
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Area Campgrounds
White Pines Campground
232 Old North Road
Barkhamsted, CT
Lone Oak Campsites
360 Norfolk Road
East Canaan, CT
Hemlock Hill Camp Resort
118 Hemlock Hill Road
Litchfield, CT
Nearby Hotels

From the North ? Great Barrington or Pittsfield, MA: travel south on Route 7 into Canaan and take a left heading east on Route 44, then take a right onto Route 272 south. The park will be on the left.

From the South ? Greater Danbury area: travel north on Route 7 into Canaan and take a right heading east on Route 44, then take a right onto Route 272 south. The park will be on the left.

From the East ? Hartford area: travel west on I-84, take Exit 39. Continue west on Route 4 onto Route 179 going north. From Route 179 get on Route 44. Take a left onto Route 272 south. The park will be on the left.

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Connecticut State Parks