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Gay City State Park, Hebron

#48 of 66 in Nature in Connecticut
Gay City State Park is a publicly owned recreation area on the Blackledge River in the towns of Hebron and Bolton, Connecticut. The state park occupies bordering Meshomasic State Forest and is accessible from State Route 85. In addition to its deep forest, millpond, and marshland, the park bears foundations, stone walls, and ditches as remnants of the mill town that occupied the site for most of the 19th century. The park is managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The isolated hollow on the Blackledge River was first settled by religious leader Elijah Andrus and his followers in 1796. A succession of ill-fated mills marked the town's history—the first built around 1800 and the last burning down in 1879. Village history has also been burdened with tales of community tensions caused by the free use of alcohol during twice weekly religious services and of grisly murders gone unpunished.
Following construction of a sawmill and wool mill, the village became known as Factory Hollow and grew to about 25 families, many of whom bore the surname Gay. The wool mill's commercial success ended with the War of 1812; the mill burned down in 1830. A paper mill revived the village's fortunes but it too fell victim to fire, leading to the village's ultimate demise. The property was sold to the state by one of the town's last descendants in 1943, at which time the name Gay City was applied to the site. A year later the land became a state park, then entered the official roles as Connecticut's 54th state park, with 680 acres, in 1946.
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Gay City State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
15 reviews
  • A nice quiet spot that offers hiking trails, a lake with a beach (no life guards), and plenty of picnic tables and grills throughout the park.  more »
  • I hike there often. The paths are clear and marked. The views on the hike are gorgeous. Very private as well. Never too crowded. This is my oasis from the real world. I wish you could camp there. I wo...  more »
  • One of my favorite state parks to hike in. Connects to Shinipsett trail if you're interested in exploring that as well. Options of easy to more moderate/ challenging hikes. Clearly blazed. swimming area open on season. No lifeguards on duty. Great place for kids & dogs.
  • This park is a wonderful place for some light excercise. Multiple loops through the forest offer 1, 3, 5 miles. There is swimming and fishing as well. Good stuff!

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