Beaver Brook State Park is a state park in the town of Easton, Connecticut. The park’s 1,100 acres (430ha) include ponds for fishing and ice skating as well as forests that provide habitat for white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, eastern gray squirrels, red foxes, mink, muskrat, otter, beavers, bobcats, coyotes and river otters.
It is managed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. In May 2013, DEP officials announced that they were considering allowing oil and gas drilling within certain parts of the state park. On September 10, 2013, Governor Dannel P. Malloy said he had worked with legislators to pass an agreement under which the state would borrow $52 million to set aside 300 parcels of land, 200 of them in Fairfield County, for future oil and natural gas exploration.
A provision was inserted into the bill barring any drilling taking place on or near the park grounds before 2022. However, following public outcry over the prospect of fossil fuel extraction beneath the park, including from one section directly above the campground, drill-free zones were put in place for the next phase of exploration. Additional protected areas were added to the park through legislation passed during the 2014 session of the General Assembly. Included among these are 150 acres in Ansonia, 100 acres each in Bethany and Mystic, and 20 acres in New London. Similar legislation expanding the park’s protection was considered but not enacted last year.
There are ten miles (16km) of trails open to hikers, skaters, and cyclists, plus seven miles (11km) of horseback riding trails. The park also has extensive picnic facilities, including three pavilions. Two boat launches are provided for canoeing and kayaking. Three large parking lots allow for group tenting, as well as individual tents for those who prefer more privacy. Campsites range from modern with all amenities to rustic, meaning no electricity or running water. Half of the campsites are available on a first come, first served basis while the remainder must be reserved.
Beaver Brook State Park offers two primitive trail sites, one of which may accommodate up to six people in two separate sites. To ensure adequate space for everyone, groups larger than six persons should reserve both sites. No pets are allowed. Amenities include access to a sanitary dump station, restrooms, showers, playgrounds, playing fields, and a soccer field. Parking fees are in effect during the summer months. Seasonal permits can be purchased at the park office. Fees are approximately $8 per vehicle per day. Group campers/RV campers will need to have their permit verified by the park staff. For verification purposes, a valid CT license plate number is required. This requirement is in effect year round. Pets are permitted upon designated spaces. Permits may be obtained at the park offices. Space is limited, so permit holders are encouraged to arrive early.
During the winter season, some of the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. Snowshoeing and ski touring are popular activities. The park hosts numerous events, including weekly walks, guided hikes and nature programs throughout the year. The Friends of Beaver Brook State Park organization holds periodic fundraising events. Like most parks in the region, Beaver Brook State Park suffers from acid mine drainage caused by illegal mining activity during the 19th century. Although the mines have been capped since 1882, acidic runoff continues to flow through underground drains and seeps onto the surrounding farmland. As of 2009, about 40% of the surface area of the park had severe to very high levels of acidity.
The park includes portions of four watersheds: the Farmington, Westford, Naugatuck and Fourteen Mile Rivers. Groundwater in the vicinity exhibits low permeability, resulting in relatively stagnant waters except during periods of heavy rainfall. Stagnant water bodies such as Lake Lubbers and Arnold’s Pond exhibit significant amounts of toxic algae growth, due to excessive nutrient pollution from agricultural run off and urban sewage overflows. These algae blooms deplete oxygen in the water, suffocating aquatic life and contributing to the overall toxicity. Algae blooms are exacerbated during pe
riods of heavy rain, when excess nutrients are washed into the lakes and streams. Despite recent efforts to improve lake water quality, significant improvements are still needed. Levels of mercury and PCBs found in common species of fish in the region indicate ongoing environmental contamination despite government regulations and cleanup efforts. Several bald eagles nest along the park’s waterways. Black bears are occasionally spotted, though they are rarer than in former years. Coyotes and foxes are often sighted around the park. Visitors encountering groundhogs should remember that these are protected animals.
Bobcat tracks are frequently seen around the park. Coyote calls are heard periodically. Otter scurries are sometimes sighted. Ruffed grouse once inhabited much of southern Connecticut but became extinct during the 1800s; however, several individuals have recently returned to the woods around Beaver Brook State Park. Deer hunters may encounter whitetail deer during the hunt, though the presence of other species ensures there will always be enough game to go around.
The park features two main entrances, one on Mountain Road and another on Rocky Hill Avenue. Entrance signs direct traffic away from the park entrance to prevent out-of-state vehicles from entering illegally. Motorists needing additional directions may contact the park headquarters via telephone. The park provides ample parking for trailers and RVs. Owing to its proximity to Interstate 95, the park receives a considerable amount of vehicular noise, particularly overnight. A quiet zone is in effect between dusk and dawn. Pedestrians using the sidewalks bordering the roadways are less likely to be disturbed by traffic noise. Because of the highway noise, we recommend that campers use the park only during daytime hours.
A camp store is located centrally in the park, offering food, drink, gifts, and basic camping supplies. There are ten miles (16km) of trails open to hikers, skaters, and bicyclists, plus seven miles (11km) of horseback riding trails. The park also has extensive picnic facilities, including three pavilions. Two boat launches are provided for canoeing and kayaking. Three large parking lots allow for group tenting, as well as individual tents for those who prefer more privacy. Campsites range from modern with all amenities to rustic, meaning no electricity or running water.
Recreational opportunities at Beaver Brook State Park include:
- cross-country skiing
- pond swimming
Animals that live in the park’s wetlands include:
- Eastern gray squirrels
- red foxes
Other animals that inhabit the park include:
Other birds observed regularly include:
- owls such as screech owls
- herring gulls
- double-crested cormorants
- snowy egrets
- brown thrashers
- wild turkeys
- marsh wrens
- pileated woodpeckers
- northern flickers
- Carolina chickadees
- Baltimore orioles
- American kestrels
- red-tailed hawks
- bald eagles