HAMDEN — Sleeping Giant State Park opened to the public Friday for the first time after being closed for more than a year after a tornado ravaged the landscape.
Instead of downed trees, the trails were lined with hikers, families, people walking dogs, and nature enthusiasts. Dozens of area residents visited Friday starting at 8 a.m., when the park officially reopened.
Wallingford resident Amy Sward visited the park with her dog Luna.
“I’ve missed it. This is like my workout,” Sward said. “I’m glad it’s open again.”
The park has been closed since a storm on May 15, 2018, downed thousands of trees.
Southington resident Jennifer Dunne used to hike at Sleeping Giant with her husband before the tornado. She noticed a lot of changes in the landscape and was glad the trails were finally cleared.
“I think its better. Cleaner, neater, easier to get around,” Dunne said.
Sleeping Giant Park Association President Mike Miller issued a statement about the opening.
“I want to thank all of our association members and volunteers who invested so much time and effort restoring the extensive trail network at the ‘Giant’ to a safe condition, and I want to also thank the state and (Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) for allowing our association to have played such a significant role in this important work,” Miller said.
Julie Hulten, Sleeping Giant Park Association community outreach coordinator, walked along the main path and the Tower Trail. Hulten was excited to see people of all ages visit the park on its opening day.
“The turnout is amazing,” Hulten said. “For a Friday, we didn’t expect this many people.”
Hulten said the day was significant because of the work that SGPA members did leading up to the opening. Every Sunday, a group of 50 to 60 volunteers would work to clear and blaze trails.
“I’m excited to see so many people. So many young kids and it’s sort of generational. It’s very cool,” Hulten said. “We’re excited, we’re very excited.”
The park will be open everyday, 8 a.m. until sunset.