King Philip Mountain rises 975 feet above the town of Simsbury in northern Connecticut. As part of Talcott Mountain State Park, many people - including the locals - do not know that King Philip Mountain exists. To most people the mountain is simply known as "Talcott." King Philip Mountain lies 1 mile north of Talcott Mountain
and though both King Phillip and Talcott may look as though they are simply one mountain, they conjoin to form the 2.5 mile long Metacomet Ridge.
A view of the valley bellow at sunset
The mountain was named after a local Indian tribe leader named Metacomet, called King Philip by early settlers.
From the Simsbury Town Website:
"In 1676, Indian disputes erupted into King Philip's War, and in March Simsbury was attacked by a group of Philip's warriors and burned to the ground. According to legend, their leader, King Philip, sat in the large cave on the Mountain to view the spectacle. It is still called the Metacomet Ridge."
King Philips Cave is the most famous part of the mountain. I've heard that the town does not allow people to climb up (or down) into the cave but I did this past summer with a buddy of mine with no problems at all.
The Arrow shows where King Philip's Cave is
Getting to Talcott Mountain State Park is relatively easy. If you're coming from the south, take the Trumble Street exit off of I-91 and follow the road a short ways until you get to the intersection with Rt. 44. Make a right onto Rt. 44 and follow it through Hartford. After roughly 3.5 miles, watch for signs for Ct. 189. Veer right onto Ct. 189 and pass the University of Harford on your right about 1 mile up. At the first stop light past the University veer left onto Ct. 185 and drive straight for 5 miles. When you reach the top of the mountain on Ct. 185, Talcott Mountain State Park will be on your left.
To get to the trailhead for King Philip Mountain drive all the way up the road in the park to the Lifestar Helipad.
Don't park your car past the posted sign however. For more of a challenge, park your car along the side of the road right after you turn off Ct. 185. From here, hike the road up to the helipad and then look for the true trailhead - you will have to walk .5 miles gaining 200 feet before you get to the trailhead if you decide opt for this "route."
If you're coming from the north, take Ct. 10/202 S and make a left onto Ct. 185. In three miles the entrance to the park will be on your right.
Coming from the West or East on I-84 take exit 49 in Hartford. Turn left onto High Street then another left onto Rt. 44 then follow the direction listed in the first paragraph of this section.
Of course there are many other ways to get to Talcott Mountain State Park via backroads but these are the easiest.
Dont Park Beyond this Sign
The State Park closes at sunset.
A view of the Valley and surrounding Hills
"The Eastridge Trail" - The Trailhead, located just beyond the Lifestar Helipad at the top of Summit Ridge Road, lies 600ft up on the mountain - you can't miss it. The trail is relatively short at only .27 miles but it is steep and you will constantly find yourself navigating around trees and over rocks - be careful not to trip on the roots, its a long way down.
Continue Southward up the trail taking time to admire the view from the rocky ledges and outcroppings.
The view from King Philip Mountain
Keep your eye out for the trail leading to King Philip's Cave, on the right, roughly half way up. Once you get to the top of the trail at 800 feet, immediately you will hit a trail junction. From here continue straight along the yellow marked Tower Trail. To get to King Philip Mountain's true summit you must hike the Tower Trail over Talcott Mountain. In 1.5 miles keep an eye out for the Metacomet trail off to your left (just after passing the 80 foot Basalt Rock wall). The Metacomet trail is a Connecticut Blue Blazed trail which I have described HERE
Follow the Metacomet trail northward for half a mile until you come to a clearing/cliff. This is the "Upper Ridge and the true "summit" of King Philip Mountain at 975 feet. The view is great and there generally are not many people along this trail so here is a great spot to sit down and relax for a while.
The Tower Trail - This is the much more traveled route up the mountains. It is steep and just under .6 miles in length. The Tower Trail trailhead is just across the street from the main parking area (.25 miles down the road from the helipad. Follow this trail and you will eventually get to the trail junction described above.
Another view off Metacomet Ridge
King Philip's Cave
King Philips Cave can be a bit tricky to get to. There are two different ways to reach it. The first is by hiking the trail that branches off the main trail heading up the ridge. This trail is thin and runs right along the cliff line and can get a little hairy at times. I wouldn't recomend taking this trail if it has just rained and the leaves on the ground are wet - you can easily slip and fall. You'll know when you've reached the cave. It's just around the corner right after you hit the bottom edge of the ridge. The cave is roughly 60 ft up from the trail along the lower ridge up a class 4.7 rockface. Be careful climbing as its 500 ft to the bottom of the mountain.
The second way to to the cave is to climb down to it. I've only ever climbed up into it from the trail but have seen a few people climbing down. I'm not sure you're supposed to do this but people do anyways...just like you're not supposed to hang-glide off the mountain but many people do. The picture to the right shows the cliff that you need to climb down to get to the cave.
Rapel down this Cliff down to get to the Cave