Devil in the Hopyard **  LbNA # 8168 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateMay 8 2004
LocationEast Haddam, CT
Found By slimjims
Last Found Oct 1 2007
Hike Distance?

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Devil's Hopyard State Park
East Haddam, CT
366 Hopyard Road
East Haddam, CT 06423
Open Year-Round - Free Entry

This should take about an hour if you do nothing but find the box, with some moderate climbing along a blazed trail. We do reccomend following the yellow trail around as there is an excellent vista further along after you've found our little devil. All bearings in our directions are magnetic.

From CT Route 9: take Exit 7, then a left at the end of the exit ramp onto CT Route 154 north. Take a right at the first traffic light and follow the signs.

From Interstate 395: take Exit 80 west. Take a right onto CT Route 82 west. Take a right onto Hopyard Road and follow signs.

From I-91S: take Exit 22. Take Route 9S, Exit 10. Take Route 9AS to Tylerville. Take Route 82E over CT River for about 3 miles. At the stop sign take a right, and then take immediate left. Follow that road for approximately 8 miles, then follow the signs.

We come in on Hopyard Rd. turning north off of State Rt. 82. Scenic little drive along the northern part of Eightmile River.

History & Lore:

In 1919, the former State Park and Forest Commission obtained an 860 acre parcel located in the Millington section of Haddam. The principle feature of the park, Chapman Falls drops more than sixty feet over a series of steps in a Scotland Schist stone formation. The falls also once powered "Beebe's Mills" which were named after the original owner. The mills operated until the mid 1890's.

The explanations for the name "Devil's Hopyard" run quite a gamut, from ghouls reportedly seen among the hops vines to weekly dances, or hops, run by a man named Devlin. The explanations don't satisfy historians, but they do say something about the imaginations of New England's early settlers.

One tale interests both geology and history fans. At the base of 60-foot Chapman Falls are a number of perfect cylinders, called "potholes," bored into the stone by pebbles caught in eddying water. Early settlers speculated that the Devil was so angered by getting his tail wet in the falls that his hooves burned holes in the rock as he hopped around in distress.

The "Connecticut Outdoor Recreation Guide," published by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association; "Connecticut Place Names," by A.H. Hughes and M.S. Alien; and "Connecticut, A New Guide," by William Bixby, recount several theories on how Devils Hopyard gots its name.

The name Devil's Hopyard was first used in connection with Devil's Kettle, a large circular hole on Kettle Hill. A large cavelike opening in a ledge on the opposite bank of the river was called Devil's Cave or Devil's Oven.

At one time, a quarter-acre field of hops grew alongside the road. The Hopyard portion of the name could have come from the malt house of Malt House Brook, 3 miles to the south. Historians also speculate that hops may have been soaked in potholes that were worn in rocks below Chapman Fails.

But, where did the devil come from? Supposedly, a man named

Dibble grew hops in the area. Converting his name to Devil wasn't a large stretch, but more fascinating are the spine-tingling tales told by early residents. One is of a minister's son who was abducted by a man with formidable horns. Another tells of a boy who was seized by a man with a head like a bull and taken on a wild wagon ride down Kettle Hill. Residents also believed that the devil sat above Chapman Falls, playing his violin, while directing witches as they mixed magic potions -beer?- in the potholes.

Devil's Hopyard may have a folklore devil, but it had a real angel: Miss A.G. Willard of Colchester. In 1919, she urged the state park and forest commission to do something to stop a logging operation in the area. Within a month, the state bought the land, the logging stopped, and it became a state park for all to enjoy.

There are more than 15 miles of hiking trails (mostly also suitable for mountain biking), which lead through a variety of terrains, from hemlock forest to marsh to river shore. One trail leads to a scenic vista; another extends outside the park to the town of Millington.

The park is used by cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

While the sounds of Moodus will intrigue visitors, the setting of Devil's Hopyard will truly tap into the deep recesses of visitors' imaginations. The craggy landscape is the perfect setting for the supernatural and a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. For centuries, the 860 acre State Park was used by Native Americans as a meeting and gathering place. According to some local legends, the park is named for Satan himself, who reportedly played in the house band while the Black Witches of Haddam held sabbat. The Dark One reportedly enjoyed a perch atop Chapman's Falls, a 60 foot waterfall in the park's center.

Whether or not you choose to believe these legends, the tales certainly provide fodder for guests in search of legends and settings that inspire the imagination.

Of course, the real truth is that there is a devil in the hopyard, and below you'll see how to find him...

Find your way to the main entrance on Hopyard rd., and park by the picnic area along the river by the wooden covered bridge. Walk back along the road as if you are going back out of the park, and when it takes a sharp right-hand turn, proceed strait along under the gate along an old forest road.

Proceed down the road, the river will be babbling to your left and pine bowers to the right. Cross a brook on a dilapidated wooden bridge, then cross a second brook shortly thereafter. A little ways on you will cross a fallen “porcupine” log.

The path then forks, take the right-hand fork. Follow the path up to the road and cross to the “ No parking emergency stopping only ” sign. Then follow the trail at the left hand side of this sign, bearing 210 degrees. This is a yellow blaze trail. Here you will do some significant climbing, passing a rock split by a log on the left, through a field of moss covered boulders, and up a series of large, plate like rocks, up and up and up.

After you curve to the left, you will pass between Mama boulder and baby boulder, curve back around to the right and as the view is improving you pass by a woodpecker tree and the “big L” by a bolder on the left.

Continue up to the summit of the ridge where the trail begins to flatten out. You will pass by stone ledge on the right, find the big stone chair. 13 paces past the big chair, stop before the trail starts a steep descent, and bushwack along bearing 100 for 12 paces over 2 fallen logs. Count carefully and don’t go too far, as there is shortly a steep drop off and you could end up head over tea-kettle. Stop at 12 paces and the little devil is under a flat rock on the southeast side of the boulder to your right.

Be sure to look for other letterboxes in nthe Devil's Hopyard while you are there, Curious George and the Giant's Chair, the Birthday Cake letterbox, and the Hopbox are not far away!