Chris Fletcher remembers when he first experienced Peter’s Rock.
“As a Boy Scout in the Montowese section of town, we would hike there,” said Fletcher, who now serves as president of the which maintains the park’s five miles of trails. “It was an open space parkland in our back yard.“
“We have a hidden gem here in North Haven,” said Fletcher, whose parents still live close to the park and whose father Michael serves as the association’s treasurer. His brother Kevin and mother Eileen are also members. The entranceway to the park is roughly across the street from the
The steep, basalt formation off Middletown Avenue is part of the Metacomet Ridge that runs from the Long Island Sound north through Massachusetts.
Early on, Peter’s Rock had a residence. Built by Peter Brockett, a member of a family that first came to North Haven in 1638, the house went up around the time of the Revolutionary War.
According to , his ancestor Peter was crippled in the war, and he subsequently built a house on what Brockett believes is the Rock’s north side. “I remember going there as a Cub Scout in elementary school for an overnight camping trip,” Brockett said of his first experience at Peter’s Rock. “I’d heard about it from my dad. I don’t think we know the location of [Peter’s] hut.
Brockett said there used to be a stagecoach road that ran across the formation and he suspects that Peter Brockett built the residence for himself and his family close to that.
What beguiled many who came to Peter’s Rock was an observation tower built on a pavilion constructed by five businessmen from New Haven who at one time leased the land. The view, according to Brockett, was 360 degrees and then, as now, included Long Island Sound.
That pavilion was demolished, but the Peter’s Rock Association and Walter Brockett joined forces to construct a second—this, not at the summit but the base of the park. The association completed the pavilion, and last year Brockett completed the cupola that mimics one that was atop the original structure.
Brockett concedes that he was not heavily involved in the park until recently, when the Association contacted him about the invasive plants that were infesting some sections of the park.
“I’m retired,” said Brockett, who is a master gardener. “I thought, ‘why not'?”
Since that time, Fletcher and other association volunteers have joined forces with Brockett to clear out the invasives.
“There’s autumn olive, burning bush, barberry, a tree of heaven ...,” said Brockett. “They tend to be very aggressive,” he continued, adding that these are frequently woody plants that tend to be perennial.
“It’s a constant battle,” Fletcher said.
This spring, Brockett spent five hours climbing the mountain with a representative from the state to check for the , whose presence in Connecticut was detected last week. Luckily, no ash trees were found. What concerns Brockett is the , a second predator now close to the state, because it invades maples and other hardwoods that grow at Peter’s Rock and also throughout the town.
“I wonder if the job is bigger than I bargained for,” said Brockett of the work he and others do to minimize the invasive vegetation. “There aren’t a lot of people who want to get out and do that kind of work.”
Fletcher said anyone who would like to help clear the trails or donate tools to aid the battle against the invasive plants can contact the association.
And while Fletcher has a 5-year-old son named Owen he said the boy has yet to tackle an invasive.
“He hikes,” Fletcher said.
The park is open until sunset every day. No motorized vehicles are allowed.