You must be signed in to save park lists.
Your Park Lists
add New List
Add Photo
You must be signed in to add photos.
state route ranger badge

Connecticut State Parks

responsive menu icon
USA Parks
River Valley Region
Chatfield Hollow State Park
start slideshow
Chatfield Hollow State Park Covered bridge in Chatfield Hollow State Park © Angela Hansen
A classic, tranquil New England stream, complete with covered bridge
Chatfield Hollow State Park Red Covered Bridge © Tony Barbuito
Chatfield Hollow State Park
Chatfield Hollow State Park © craig m zacarelli
Chatfield Hollow State Park © craig m zacarelli
Chatfield Hollow State Park © craig m zacarelli
Chatfield Hollow State Park © craig m zacarelli
Chatfield Hollow State Park Pausing to watch dragonflies © Angela Hansen
A child peers over the swamp walk, watching dragonflies perched below
Chatfield Hollow State Park © Kirstin Peterson
Chatfield Hollow State Park Pond © Carrie Weeks
Chatfield Hollow State Park Covered Bridge © Debra J. Stepnowski
Covered Bridge reflected on the country stream
Chatfield Hollow State Park © Kirstin Peterson
Chatfield Hollow State Park © Kirstin Peterson
Chatfield Hollow State Park © Kirstin Peterson
Chatfield Hollow State Park Sleeping Indian Rock Formation © Debra J. Stepnowski
Looking back leaving Indian Trail, silhouette of sleeping indian in rock formations appears Can you find it
Chatfield Hollow State Park Indian Cave © Debra J. Stepnowski
Indian cave hidden amongst rock ledges along Indian Trail
Chatfield Hollow State Park Beautiful Ledges in the Sunlight © Debra J. Stepnowski
Colorful ledges lead to hidden Indian Caves
Availability Search
381 Route 80
Killingworth, Connecticut   06419

Phone: 860-663-2030
Toll Free: 866-287-2757
Email: park email button icon
Hike the trails in search of Indian caves, explore the jagged rocky ledges and recesses or relax by the cooling waters, or picnic in the soft pine woods at Chatfield Hollow State Park.
Nature of the Area

All of the bedrock found in the park is a hard, light-colored granitic-type rock called the Monson Gneiss. Originally it was a granitic igneous intrusion formed at the edge of the North American continent as the Iapetos Ocean, which was roughly in the area now occupied by the Atlantic Ocean, was being forced down under the North American continent. Africa and Europe/Asia were moving toward North America. As the ocean floor plate was subducted under the continental plate, some of it melted and forced its way toward the surface. The rock we now see as the Monson Gneiss was the molten material in the magma chamber, which didn?t make it to the surface and slowly cooled to form a granitic pluton. Later, as the Iapetos Ocean continued to close, either a microcontinent or Africa collided with North America and the pressure and high temperatures produced during this collision and subsequent folding of the rocks caused the metamorphism of the former granitic pluton. Millions of years of erosion of the overlying rocks has now exposed this rock, the Monson Gneiss, at the surface.

Gneiss is a metamorphic rock, which means it formed at great depth where pressures and temperatures were much higher than here on the surface. As the rock reaches the surface due to erosion of overlying rocks, the pressure is released and the rock tends to break in many places. Tree roots widened these fractures, as did water freezing in them and expanding. Glacial ice flowing over the rocks moved some of them. Those rocks moved only a short distance are still angular, just as they broke originally, while those moved a longer distance become more rounded as their corners and edges are broken or ground off.

For a detailed description of the geology of the park, follow the Chimney Trail, blazed in green. Begin near the Nature Trail, on the south side of the road. Almost immediately the trail encounters a large outcrop of Monson Gneiss. This large gneiss outcrop contains a number of small rock-fall caves, one with two entrances. Some of these may have been used as shelters by native Americans. The trail climbs over the south end of the outcrop then runs along its eastern side before crossing the road. Notice all of the fractures in the rock.

The Chimney Trail has large amounts of exposed, all of it named Monson Gneiss It is a medium- to coarse-grained rock, light in color, made up mainly of the minerals plagioclase, quartz and biotite. In some places there are traces of garnet, epidote or magnetite. If you look closely at this rock, so that you get used to how it looks, you can then try to find loose boulders of other rocks in the park. These loose, rounded rocks were moved here by glacial ice between 24,000 and 16,000 years ago. Many of these rounded rocks, called glacial erratics, are also Monson Gneiss, as the ice usually didn't move rocks very far. But you may find a few other rock types.

Rounded rocks found in the forest, especially away from outcrops, were deposited here as the glacial ice melted around 17,000 years ago. Rocks moved by water or ice lose their sharp edges and corners from abrasion and become rounded. These rocks which the glaciers moved are called erratics. Most of the erratics in the park are Monson Gneiss, but sometimes you may find a rock which looks different. At one point along the Chimney trail a reddish-brown rock containing small pebbles can be found. It is a piece of the Portland Arkose which is found to the northeast of Chatfield Hollow, in Durham and farther north. Portland Arkose was quarried in Portland for many years and shipped all around the United States, even to California, to be used as the building stone called "brownstone". The piece seen in the picture is a little hard to identify because of its moss and lichen covering, but a careful examination will reveal the small pebbles it contains. Arkose is a type of sandstone, a sedimentary rock made by the cementing together of grains of sediments.
History of the Area
Chatfield Hollow Brook flows toward Long Island Sound between two high ridges covered with oak, beech, and hickory. In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps built an earth and stone dam across the brook, creating seven acre Schreeder Pond. Pines planted at the same time now form a green setting around the pond.In pre-Colonial times, Indians frequented the valley in considerable numbers for purposes of fishing and hunting. Many artifacts found in the vicinity of Indian Council Caves indicated that Native Americans sought refuge in the jagged ledges and held tribal gatherings amid the rock recesses and overhangs. An Indian trail paralleled the brook, winding through the trees and along what is now the park road.

Early settlers made use of the stream for waterpower. Descendants of three Chatfield brothers, who arrived from England about 1639, were believed to have operated a gristmill along the brook. Occasional chunks of oddly shaped metal fragments found near the watercourse are evidence that an iron smelting furnace worked native ores into metal for implements. Other reminders of early history include several old building foundations, a restored waterwheel on the upper pond, and the covered bridge reproduction spanning Chatfield Hollow Brook
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.
Nearby Accommodations
businesss listing main photo
BBs / Inns
Located along the CT Shoreline midway between New York City and Boston, and only one hour from Hartford, with tons of local attractions both on the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River.
12.5 miles from park*

Area Attractions
Haddam Meadows State Park, Haddam Location: 3 miles south of Higganum off Route 154 Activities: Boating, Fishing, Picnicking Charge: None

Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison Location: 1 mile south of Exit 62 from I-95 (Connecticut Turnpike) Activities: Camping, Nature Center Programs, Picnicking, Saltwater Swimming, and Fishing Charge: Daily in season

Wadsworth Falls State Park, Middletown Location: 2 miles southwest of Middletown on Route 157 Activities: Cross-Country Skiing, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Picnicking, Stream Fishing, Swimming Charge: Daily
Things To Do in the Area
businesss listing main photo
Explore the Connecticut River aboard the R/V River Quest, an environmentally friendly 64', 60 passenger vessel docked at Eagle Landing State Park, Haddam, CT.
7.2 miles from park*

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
May 27 A Fishermans Paradise by Lorenzo Reyes
park review stars; one to five Dont get your trophy trout eaten by a snapping turtle! It has happened to me! BEWARE!
August 24 Go there often by Bear
park review stars; one to five Nice local state park with a lake, stream, hiking trails, and barbeque pits. Great place to hike, swim, or just relax. Good for family picnics too. Quiet atmosphere. One sore point is the removal of some of the outhouses in key locations.
April 29 Fishermans Paradise by Lorenzo Reyes
park review stars; one to five Cool big trout!!
write a review read more reviews
Share On

Area Campgrounds
Riverdale Farm Campsites
111 River Road
Clinton, CT
Wolf's Den Campground
256 Town Street
East Haddam, CT
Markham Meadows Campground
7 Markham Road
East Hampton, CT
Totoket Valley RV Park
244 Foxon Road
North Branford, CT
Nearby Hotels

From Route 9: take Exit 9. Follow Route 81 south to Route 80 west and watch for park entrance signs.

From I-95: take Exit 63. Follow Route 81 north to Route 80 west.

state route ranger badge

Connecticut State Parks