Although plagued by sharp, frigid winters, Connecticut skaters are resilient, and lucky enough to have a plethora of great local skate parks. Connecticut’s best skate parks offer challenging elements, good size and flow, and access to skaters at any level. CT’s rich skate history has evolved.
“It’s definitely changed,” says skatepark designer Jeff Paprock. “When I was younger it was more of an underground scene, you know, backyard ramps and everything.” Paprocki has been building, updating, and shredding for over twenty years. Since breaking ground on his first park in 2001, he’s been all over Connecticut.
“He is the Godfather of skateboarding around here,” claims Troy Hannon, a regular of Groton skatepark, who’s been skating for twenty years. We’ll start our list of top parks with Paprocki’s first, and Hannon’s home, Groton Skatepark.
Groton Skatepark, Groton CT
A do-it-yourself masterpiece with ginormous elements accompanied by ornate graffiti, make this park a must-see. “Groton is definitely the f*ckin best place,” says Jason Williams, a veteran skater of eight years. He takes a hit from his joint, shuffles his leg out. “I mean, I’ve got it tattooed on my leg,” He gestures towards the ink on his lower calf. Groton is an interesting combination of park and street, featuring massive walls, huge drop-ins, ample flatground, and my favorite, a mini-ramp. This park is clearly attractive to any Connecticut transition rat. You can spend your time in Groton practicing boardslides on a flat bar, racing your buddies around the various bowls, walls, and elements, or test your nerves by stepping up to the Groton wall, and attempting a twelve foot drop-in. My only piece of advice, wear a helmet! The large elements of this park provide a great time, but the concrete must be respected. Big things are coming to Groton Skatepark. Paprocki is currently working with the town to come up with exciting renovations. “It’s gonna be completely different,” he says, however, he emphasizes that these renovations won’t be happening until 2024.
Rockwell Skatepark, Bristol CT
A red rocked plaza, with bountiful street elements, a swimming pool, and various transition features, this park is home to many shredders. Designers included an abundant flatground section with boxes, stair sets, banks, manny pads, a grass gap, and even a pump track that goes around the park. Skaters won’t be dissatisfied spending an afternoon carving in the sun on the red rocks. “For me, what makes a good skatepark is something where you can go there day after day and you can just look at something and be like, wow I didn’t think about skating it like that,” says skate veteran Mason Shimanski. Spinning his wheel absentmindedly, he goes on, “Rockwell is still, probably the best around.” The opportunities to improve your bag of tricks at Rockwell are endless, and skaters of all caliber will have no trouble finding their own line through this elaborate skate park. Easily accessible and equipped with an expansive parking lot, there isn’t much to improve upon at Rockwell Skatepark.
Hunter Daniels / Dan Dombroski Memorial Skatepark, Moodus CT
A concrete masterpiece, highlighted throughout with blue accents, Hunter Daniels/Dan Dombroski Memorial Skatepark (Moodus), is the skate hotspot of the lower Connecticut River Valley. A centralized bowl cuts through the middle of the park, topped with a granite pool style coping on one end, while the other features a daring carve over a sewer drain. The bowl is surrounded by boxes, hips, quarter pipes, and a pole jam, with a simple yet powerful pump track that propels you towards your next trick. Although large, the bowl provides easy access points for less experienced skaters to get their carves in too. Moodus is another park built by the Godfather, Jeff Paprocki. The park’s addictive design makes it difficult to leave in your rearview mirror. The alluring bowl always finds a way to pull skaters back in. Situated just out of the center of town, right next to the Police Department, this park isn’t too far off the beaten path and is easily accessible. Ample parking, good carves, and police protection, what else could you ask for in a skatepark?
Edgewood Skatepark, New Haven, CT
Edgewood is a classic blacktop skatepark that is hard to leave off the list of CT’s top venues. It boasts street and vert elements, complete with a concrete bowl section. It features multiple spines, quarter pipes, banks, and more, adorned with beautiful graffiti all throughout. Skaters flow through the spines and ledges on the blacktop, up and over the bank and into the pool/transition area, where they piece together intricate, yet simple lines. The fusion of blacktop and concrete components provide a diverse park full of opportunities. Although the upper section of the park is undermaintained, it does not take away from the virtue of this park. Frequented by many, you may first be intimidated, but the culture at the park is genuine and accepting, much like any other park you may find in Connecticut.
Nate Robida is a staff writer for Blue Muse Magazine
Header Image: Hunter Daniels/Dan Dombroski Memorial Skatepark, courtesy of Nate Robida for Blue Muse Magazine