Hopeville Pond State Park is a state park in the town of Easton, Connecticut. The park’s 1,400 acres (5km2) include a pond for fishing and ice skating as well as forested land with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hunting. Hopeville Pond is used as a location for fishing, especially for largemouth bass, crappie, perch, bluegill, catfish, sunfish, pumpkinseed, channel catfish, bullhead, and sucker. Ice fishing takes place mostly in the months from January until March, though it is popular all year long.
Plans call for construction of a bathhouse/concession stand, picnic areas, parking lots, boardwalks, bike paths, and a pier/platform for fishing and ice skating. There are over five miles (8.0km) of trails open to hikers, including a mile-long trail around the pond. The park has facilities for playing tennis, volleyball, disc golf, and horseshoes.
Hopeville Pond also serves as a starting point for kayaking tours around the Sound. The park offers a boat launch and mooring facility for non-motorized watercraft. Boats may be launched into the pond or moored along its shores. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and pedal boats are common sights. Motorized boating is prohibited. The park has two playgrounds, several soccer fields, and a basketball court. Campsites range from modern to rustic. Some sites have access to electricity while others rely solely on generators. Water is provided at all campsites. Modern restrooms with hot showers are located near the campground. Tent and trailer sites can be found farther out in the campgrounds than the traditional tent only sites. Toilets and shower facilities are shared between the sexes in the main campground. The single sex campground contains only men’s restroom facilities.
The “Hawk Ridge” campground is designed specifically for large group tenting and includes a full service kitchen. The campground opens with trout season on April 15 and closes on December 14. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Walk-in campsites are available throughout the rest of the year. Reservations made after November 14 cannot guarantee admission on any given day. Hopeville Pond State Park accepts DEP pass holders for a fee. Annual passes are not offered.
Snowmobiling takes place mainly on the south side of the park. Riders share the road with cars and trucks, using four-wheel drive if necessary. No special permits are required, although registration with the state is encouraged. Approximately 500 acres (20km2) are dedicated off-road vehicle riding area. Bikes are not permitted within the motorized waters, however, riders are allowed to ride along the shoreline. Hunting is limited to small game, primarily rabbits, pheasant, and ruffed grouse. The hunting of groundhogs is prohibited. Hopeville Pond does not allow guns or bow and arrow. Gunfire must be reported to the proper authorities. Bow and arrows can be brought onto the grounds provided they are not more than twenty-four inches in length. All hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Connecticut Game Commission.
Hopeville Pond allows for primitive, backpacking style camping. Tents and RVs are not recommended because of the wet conditions. Two lean-to shelters are available. Group shelter areas contain three separate family shelters, each accommodating up to six people, plus a central gathering area. Each family shelter comes equipped with electric heat, lights, and outlets. The central gathering area lacks windows and has a different set of electrical demands; it accommodates up to 40 people. Backcountry campsites are accessible via a trail that loops through the woods surrounding the pond. These sites require a hike of .75 to 1.0 miles (1.2 to 1.9km), depending on where you decide to leave your car. Half of the sites are reserved, the other half are open on a first come first served basis.
Four additional sites are available just outside the park boundary, accessible either by foot or bicycle. These sites are designated as multi-use, allowing horses and motorcycles to use them as well. Horses are not permitted inside the park. Dogs and bicycles are welcome at these sites. Hopeville Pond State Park has become very popular among tourists seeking to avoid the crowds at neighboring Rocky Neck State Park. The smaller size of the park, coupled with its proximity to downtown Mystic, makes it attractive to visitors who would rather explore a quiet seaside village than party in the towns center.
Hopeville Pond features prominently in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The film stars David Carradine as Santa Muerte, a death-obsessed desert god figure based on the folkloric figure of the same name. At the end of Act I, he visits the Earthling children living in a cave on the north bank of the pond. He gives them his blessing and instructs them to burn incense for him. The kids ask what will happen next, and he replies: “Dinner time.” Santa Muerte returns in Act II, scene 2, arriving in a flying machine and landing in the ocean. This sequence was shot entirely on the east bank of the pond, opposite the direction of the flow of the current. On the west side of the pond, there is a steep embankment preventing easy access. On the east side, there is a level sandbar extending approximately one third of the way across the width of the pond, beyond which the water becomes shallow again.
This bar extends approximately halfway across the eastern half of the pond. Beyond the sandbar, the water deepens considerably. The top of the embankment on the west side drops off sharply, forming a bluff above the water. On the east side, the dropoff is less severe. The bluffs offer views of the entire park and adjacent lands. They were formed by sedimentation, not by volcanic activity, since no volcanism occurred at Hopeville Pond during the last glacial period. Views of the bluffs are obstructed somewhat by vegetation growing atop them.
Hopeville Pond State Park is managed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Hopeville Pond was created when Hurricane Diane swept through the area on September 6, 1982, causing $11 million damage. Prior to this, there had been discussion about damming the pond for hydroelectric power, but that idea was dropped following the storm. In 1996, DEP officials announced plans to create a 900-acre (3.6km2) lake at the site as part of an expansion plan for nearby Rocky Neck State Park. However, due to opposition from local residents and conservation groups such as Save Our Seashore, the project was dropped in 1999.
A year later, DEP officials began work on creating a 650-acre (2.6km2) lake for use as a public swimming beach, which opened to the public in May 2006. The original shoreline was destroyed by erosion caused by storms and rising sea levels during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, so DEP officials decided to build a new one.
Other activities available at the park include:
- bird watching
- cross-country skiing
- general winter sports
The park provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife, most notably:
- black bears
- red squirrels
Common game fish include: