Mount Tom State Park is a state park in the town of Killingworth, Connecticut. The park preserves an area known as “The Bowl,” which includes most of the peak and central ridge of Mount Tom.
Its principal feature is Mount Tom Tower, which offers views of Mount Katahdin in Maine (the northernmost peak visible from Mount Tom), the Adirondacks Mountains in New York, Long Island Sound, and the Providence River valley. The park has several peaks; the main ones are North Peak (which has a fire tower at its summit), Dome (officially unnamed), and South Peak.
On clear days, four additional mountains can be seen across Long Island Sound: Spruce Peak near Sandy Hook, Jersey Shoreline near Montauk, Napeak Point near Block Island, and Buzzard’s Head near Martha’s Vineyard. A lesser but still significant feature is Devil’s Nose, a rocky outcropping that projects northwesterly from the main summit area. This formation stands adjacent to Taconic State Parkway, and may be accessed via an entrance located just past Killingly exit 38.
The park also contains Camp Hero, a former military installation that housed artillery batteries during World Wars I and II. During excavation prior to construction of the Wethersfield Reservoir, two 16-inch guns were found buried in what became Lake Naraneka. One gun remains exposed, while the other has been recovered. Both are displayed outside the park office. There is no charge to enter the park or view the exhibits. The park is open year round, though access is limited in the winter months due to snow. Parking fees are in effect all season long.
The park averages about 30,000 visits per day. Some notable peaks nearby (all right angles): Mount Megunticook (140 miles distant) Mount Scenic (108 miles distant) Bear Mountain (103 miles distant) Note: All distances below are straight lines over land. Mt. Tom rises some 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape. From Prospect Road parking lot, hike 2.5 miles up Mount Tom Trail through hemlock gorges then 3.2 miles along the summit trail. The parkway to the left leads you back down the hill. Hikers need to be wary of loose gravel and stones that make their way down the slope during late fall and early spring.
Access is good all summer long except July 15 – September 5. View south from the top of Mount Tom showing Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, and the Bristol Ferry Boat Harbor. East vista looking towards Bear Mountain. Northeast vista showing Redding hills, including Signal Hill. Northwest vista showing Conanicut Islands & Mystic Seaport. Summer 2012 Mount Tom from the west side of the park
Visitor center and museum
- Open May – October 9:30am – 4pm
- November – March 10:00am – 3pm
- April, September, and October 10:00am – 2pm
Admission charged $4/car, $8/RV, $10/Trailer. Free admission for those under age 13 accompanied by an adult. Annual Passport required. No dogs allowed on mountain. No horseback riding permitted anywhere in park. Equestrian camping only accessible via permit. Group campground available by reservation. Amenities include restrooms with hot showers, picnic tables, playground equipment and a basketball court. Modern campsites have electric hookups and there is a modern trailer dump station. Half of the campsites are available on a first come first served basis, the remainder require reservations. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system. Prices range from $20 a night for a regular tent site to $40 for a yurt, and $80 for a shelter.
Tent sites with water are half price. Unreserved walk-in sites are also available. The visitor center and museum exhibit rooms are open daily. Exhibits focus on the history and natural resources of Mount Tom, as well as presenting information about the people who have lived around the mountain. The park provides extensive trail networks allowing visitors to cover a wide variety of terrain and elevation. Over 300 acres of woods open to hunting are part of the Mount Tom State Forest. Deer, wild turkey, black bear, moose, pheasant, squirrels, and rabbits may be taken with a bow and arrow. Hunting groundhogs is prohibited. Hunters are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The following state parks are within 32 miles (51km) of Mount Tom State Park:
- Acton Memorial State Park Natural Area (CT)
- Bennington Battlefield State Park (VT)
- Bradley Palmer State Park (CT)
- Chaplin State Park (CT)
- Cretaceous Era GeoPark (CT)
- Eagle Cliffs Geologic Area (CT)
- Groton Nature Center (CT)
- Kent Pond State Park (CT)
- Litchfield Hills State Park (CT)
- Mansfield Grove State Park (CT)
- Mount Tom Summit Trail (CT)
- Mount Tom West Ridge Trail (CT)
- Myles Standish State Forest (MA)
- Pachaug State Park (RI)
- Pawcatuck State Park (CT)
- Quarryville Gorge State Park (CT)
- Ragged Rock Geological Area (CT)
- Stony Brook Reservation (NY)
- Suffern Bluffs State Park (NY)
- Valley Falls State Park (CT)
- Wavertree State Park (CT)
- Woodstock Peninsula State Park (CT)
- Yawl Harbor State Park (CT)
- Young’s Cove Beach State Park (CT)
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 for its surviving Civil War-era buildings, and for its association with the mountain itself. In addition to being named after Thomas Mount, it is sometimes called Mount Tom State Park because it is operated by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection rather than by the state’s parks department. The park opened in 1891, making it one of the oldest state parks in the state.
Other activities include: