Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 41.43071°N / 72.89044°W
Additional Information County: New Haven
Activities Activities: Hiking, Trad Climbing, Toprope
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 739 ft / 225 m
Sign the Climber's Log

History of this Famous Mountain

From the New Haven Harbor the outstanding landmark on the skyline to the north is the silhouette of the Sleeping Giant lying on his back, feet to the East, head to the West and his prominent rocky chin thrust upward to the sky. One wonders if he opened a questioning eye when Theophilus Eaton in 1638, for eleven bolts of cloth and a coat, purchased 130 square miles (including the Giant) from chief Montowese of the Mattabeseck Tribe. One Indian legend tells how a spell of eternal sleep was cast on the spirit Hobbamock because he had diverted the waters of the Connecticut River. Another recounts how an ancient chief ate so many oysters he was overcome with drowsiness, from which he never recovered. Interwoven with the legends was evidence that the Giant of old was honored by the Indians as the abode of the spirits of their race. Whichever story you subscribe to, the slumbering old man has a very definite living personality, which those who scramble over him or picnic in the shadow of his protective bulk, soon come to love. Here you will find distant views from rocky crags, remote quiet woods, pleasant pine groves, and mountain streams with tumbling waterfalls ... many sports both restful and challenging. Explore the Sleeping Giant to discover for yourself what a wondreful old fellow he really is.

Overview of trails

This is one of the most picturesque locations in southern Connecticut. Connecticut is not known for it's mountain peaks, however, this particular location is known for it's views, and over 30 miles of trails summitting in two popular destinations. The first destination is the Head of the Giant. This summit point is at an elevation of 670'. You can easily reach this peak within a mile to mile and a half. There are several methods of reaching this summit trail (known as the blue trail) however this is the only labeled path to the top. The blue trail is ranked as the most difficult trail. The trails leading up to this blue trail vary in difficulty. The second most popular destination is the tower. This can be reached by continuing on the Blue trail for the most difficult route, or it can be reached using the Tower Trail which is the easiest route on the mountain. This trail is 1.6 miles and is wide enough for a jogging stroller in both directions. When compared to the peaks of the west, this is considered an easy hiking location, however, one of the most enjoyable in the area. On a clear day, you can see the Long Island Sound. Trail Map can be found at Trail Guide can be found at

Getting There

It is located largely in the town of Hamden, on Mt. Carmel Avenue which runs between Hartford Turnpike in North Haven and Whitney Avenue (Route 10) in Hamden. From I-91 take exit 10 which is Route 40 which will drop you off on Whitney Avenue. The park is just a few miles north on Rt. 10. Map can be found at

Red Tape

There are no fees to speak of, and dogs are allowed on leases. Cutting or marking trees, picking or gathering shrubs or flowers would , of course, detract from the old mountain's natural beauty and is therefore prohibited. No fires are allowed anywhere in the Park except in the picnic and camping areas. Tables, fireplaces, water, restrooms and a shelter for rainy day comfort are available for picknicking.

When To Climb

Fall is the most beautiful. The view of the fall colors is incredible. Any season is great though. The winter will provide you with wonderful snow filled vistas.


There is no camping on the mountain or even near it. This is just a day destination.

External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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Aaron Johnson

Aaron Johnson - Oct 13, 2003 10:45 am - Voted 10/10

Untitled Comment

Sleeping Giant's trails are now marked on rocks and trees with painted rectangles, diamonds, circles and squares. The trail map that illustrates the maze of options isn't the greatest, but it is sufficient to get you around the park. Be sure to get a copy if you plan on hiking the giant extensively.

cliff_hanger - May 23, 2007 8:54 am - Hasn't voted

Early Rock Climbing

People have been rock climbing at sleeping Giant for many years. The “Chin” has the distinction of hosting the first girdle traverse ever done in this country: “The Warehouse Run” in the early 1930’s by William House and Wilson Ware. Some other notable early climbers were Fritz Weissner, Hassler Whitney, Sam Streibert and John Reppy. It was here that John Reppy pioneered the use of nuts for protection instead of pitons – al least in this country. For years, the Yale Mountaineering Club used these cliffs. David Hurrah published the first known guidebook which was a collection of “potential” routes that he saw as he walked along the base of the “Chin”. While researching “Dead Man’s Cave”, I’ve personally see photos of people standing on the top of the free-standing pinnacle – Chimney Rock – that were dated from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. There are also photos of houses that once were built on the Chin and looked to actually overhang the cliff. In the early 1980’s, I began work on a real guidebook with assistance from Alex Catlin and Bob Schrader. It included boulder problems and route descriptions for the Chin, the Chest, the Tower Area, Hezekiah’s Knob, the Right Knee and some other small boulders. In total, we found and documented about 200 routes of varying quality and difficulty. By documented, I mean actually climbed. These were not “potential” routes. There were only a few copies released in 1986-87. But, I still have the original manuscripts. In addition to climbing there for several years, for research we talked to many of the locals who were currently climbing there and posted requests for information at the local climbing shops. I personally contacted Fritz Weissner, Hassler Whitney, Sam Striebert and some others. However, many routes had been done many years before and were long forgotten. For example, Sam spoke of a 5.8 he called “Vineland” but could only remember that “it was somewhere to the left of Weissner’s Rib”. The route description for Warehouse Run was obtained from an old issue of Appalachia magazine. Bob Schrader and I confirmed it’s description by climbing it in May 1986 in what may have been the first free ascent. But, because of the lack of reliable history, it’s even hard to claim that. As development on the guide continued, we began to discover routes that had clearly been climbed years before we arrived. This was evident by the many rusted pitons we found as we explored the cliffs. Some of these had been in place for 50-70 years. I have some from “The Warehouse Run” that I pulled out with my fingers. For identification purposes and because we had little hard information we began to give some of these routes “working names” until we could learn more. It’s amusing to see how some of our “working names” have stuck and were adopted. “That bolted route” became “Bolted 5.9” on the Chin. “That route with the rusty pins” became “Rusty Pins 5.8” out at the Tower Area. And there are lots more examples. Because of this long history, I suggest that people currently climbing at Sleeping Giant and future guidebook authors should be really careful about claiming first ascents. Bill Ivanoff

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Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.