The Black Dog of West Peak

November, 2008 by Ray Bendici

The Damned Story: Animal lovers, beware!

Looming over the city of Meriden are the scenic Hanging Hills, allegedly the highest spot on the East Coast that's within 25 miles of the shoreline. A range of rocky peaks created by an ancient lava flow, they have drawn countless visitors over the years to Hubbard Park thanks to their rugged beauty and spectacular views. The distinctive Castle Craig (yes, that castle thingy you see from I-691) is a century-old stone observation tower and sits atop East Peak, over 1,000 feet above sea level. On a clear day, you can literally see from Long Island Sound to the south all the way to the foothills of the Berkshires in Massachusetts to the north.

But it's not the panaromic beauty you see from Castle Craig that's the problem. It's the supernatural canine of West Peak that can cause you despair -- and possibly death -- if it comes your way.

Over the years, people have told of encounters with a small, vaguely spaniel-like, short-haired black dog. Often, it is described as having come out of nowhere, and despite its sad eyes, being quite happy to have human companionship. Like any good phantom, it leaves no footprints and makes no sound when it barks or howls, yet it leaves quite an impression. For it is said of the Black Dog: "If a man shall meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time, he shall die."

As you might expect, there are numerous tales of those who have met their end after seeing the Black Dog a third time -- it wouldn't be a proper legend if there wasn't, right? Stories of the Black Dog's victims go back as far as the 1800s; as many as a half dozen people are believed to have been cursed to death by the creature, including as recently as the 1970s.

Our Damned Experience: I've hiked stretches of the Metacomet Trail, which runs through Hubbard Park, and have visited both peaks as well as Castle Craig. I can't recall ever having seen a black dog in my visits, but I do know that the Hanging Hills can be a hazardous hike if you don't pay attention -- there are dramatic elevation changes, deep gorges and treacherous rock formations, all of which can be quite treacherous even under ideal conditions. It's not hard to picture someone getting seriously hurt or killed while hiking, especially if they are distracted by a friendly dog and don't watch their step.

If You Go: Hubbard Park is open to the public year-round and offers over 50 miles of blue-blazed hiking trails. For the lazy, a road runs up the Hanging Hills between East and West Peak and right to Castle Craig, and is open during daylight hours from April to October. Make sure whenever you visit to bring a camera -- if you don't see the Black Dog, you'll at least get some great images from a gorgeous vantage point.

By the way, as far as we know, the Black Dog of Meriden is not related to the "Black Dog" of Led Zeppelin fame. Although with spectral creatures, one can never be sure.
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Submitted by Shellie Holland (not verified) on
I have been here a couple times having family in Meriden as well as my hubby's job and I have never encountered the black dog.I also heard a story a long time back that supposedly a spirit of a young girl is seen or heard in this park,I don't know if there is any proof or merit to this rumor since I have not encountered her either. =)

Submitted by steve (not verified) on
I have lived in meriden most of my life, I've seen the dog once, and have heard the little girl, hers is a sad story.

Submitted by Ravenna K. (not verified) on
is there any more info on the kidnapped girl? Or about what happened to her abductor?

Submitted by ray manchisi (not verified) on
um what if its just a dog?a normal dog?okay a normal dog with no voice but other than that normal.some dogs,especially the annoying ones can have a surgery to remove there voice box so they cant bark/howl. im just saying look at it from a " its not real " point of view.

Submitted by Mandee Lee (not verified) on
It's not a real dog cause a friend and I saw it. It makes no noise when approaching you, makes no.sound when it barks or howls, and it was after a rainy night and no paw marks were made. When it seemed to run nothing under foot moved, so explain that?

Submitted by Brian (not verified) on
Oddly enough my brothers dog jumped to its death at this site.. For some reason it just leaped off the cliff. My brother went to the bottom and try to save the dog but it was dead on arrival. Strange coincidence I guess. This was the mid to late 80s. It was quite sometime before I heard the legend.

I've never seen it yet, but have seen the city council walking the streets that's a truly bad omen.

Submitted by Rick (not verified) on
I have been hiking there for the last 2 years. In Winter after work I hike On the trail above the res. at nite since it gets dark so early......A couple of times I started getting the creeps being so far out there at nite alone. I have not seen the dog and don't want to... after learning of this story I will only be hiking there during the day now. If I ever see a dog like that I will never hike there again!!!

Submitted by Stacey (not verified) on
My children and myself hiked up the mountain to the castle. We never saw the black dog but I can sure say that one wrong step and it could be your last!. It was a nerve wracking hike on the rocks with my two children. If I had known of this black dog story we may have not gone it alone. Since this hike we have driven up to the castle and I will tell you what breathtaking sights!

Submitted by Brian (not verified) on
Went hiking up there one November evening around 5:00pm and saw what looked like a black dog peering down at me from a rocky ledge. I called out to the dog but it just stood still looking at me so I picked up a stick that was near my right foot and when I looked back where the dog was it was gone. Huh? I thought, so I threw the stick in the direction where I saw the dog and when I got up there to see where it was the dog was nowhere in sight. It seemed strange to me because I would of definatly been able to see where he was by the time it took me to retrieve the stick where it was watching me. I shrugged it off and began to head back down the trail and about 10 minutes later I thought I felt like I was being watched and when I turned my head back to look there it was again just looking at me from a distance of about 100' up the trail. This time I quickly grabbed my pistol from my side and pointed it at the black dog and yelled to it to see if it would come at me but it turned and walked up the trail. I was a little scared cause it was just getting dark and it looked like it was a wild dog. I left and never seen it again. Hopefully I see it again cause I will kill it next time or maybee it will kill me.

Submitted by julianne (not verified) on
I have lived here all my life and i really haven't seen a black dog until two years ago. I was hiking up the hill with my mom and i saw a black dog staring at us. Of course, i went up to greet it because it seemed friendly, but when i got up were it was it was gone. And just remember the ground was wet and there were no paw prints there. I freaked out and told my mom, but she said she saw nothing and I forced her to go back down with me. I'm not sure if it was a ghost, but it sure scared me half to death. Now that i hike there without my mom i don't really see it......

Submitted by Jenny the Black Dog (not verified) on
One time I went hiking on the trail, and all was normal, until I felt a cool breeze brush past me, and to my surprise, and small timid black dog walked out from the behind a tree, and just stared at me like it had half a brain. I through a stick at it because I thought it was cute, and it peed, AND THEN IT WAS GONE. So I decided to leave the site as quickly as possible, and I whistled for a cab and when it came near the liscence plate said "Fresh" and there was dice in the mirror. If anything I could say that this cab was rare but I thought "naw forget it yo holmes to bel-air!". I pulled up to a house about 7 or 8 and I yelled to the cabby "Yo holmes smell ya later!" I looked at my kingdom, I was finally here, to sit on my throne, as the prince of Bel-Air. I never saw the dog again.

Submitted by Dom (not verified) on
Supposedly it is the following, see the dog once: good luck is upon you; see the dog twice: a bad omen/curse is set upon you; the third time - your death is imminent. Now, I am an avid hiker, and have been to practically every state park, and hiked almost every trail that is supposedly haunted. Including the trails that link near Dudleytown. Castle Craig is beautiful but have never even seen or confronted a dog. People have claimed to have seen a dog walking aimlessly, and thats fine, the only time I have ever seen a dog is when a guy and his wife were walking a black pug down the mountain. The dog came over and sniffed my leg. I haven't really felt any more luck, nor a bad omen, but maybe thats just me...

Submitted by jim (not verified) on
Its strange to have stumbled upon this story because I have hiked this trail several times and never heard of any rumors. About 5 or 6 years ago a couple of my friends pushed for the summit to have a breakfast at Castle Craig before graduating high school and had encountered a black dog. Being so early we had assumed it stray, it never bothered us just sat in the distance on the other side of the closed off parking lot (from the castle). Naturally, hiking in the dark gives one the spooks but the creepy sensation of feeling like you are being watched was with me until we had finished and headed back down. It isn't uncommon for a dog to follow but keep their distance so I didn't really find this to be too abnormal. I normally don't buy into this stuff, but I thought I'd share this experience.

Submitted by Tom (not verified) on
The most famous account of the Black Dog was written by William H. C. Pynchon and published in the April-June, 1898 issue of Connecticut Quarterly (Volume 4), which is on Google books. Link: http://books.google.com/books?id=n_8aAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_similarbooks and go to page 153. but could not find easily when I tried again. Pynchon recounts a long tale that ends with his friend and fellow geologist slipping to his death after seeing the dog three times on Feb. 5 of an unspecified year. Since it was Pynchon's second sighting, "it shall be for sorrow" and for Marshall, "and the third time he shall die." Fanciful stories would like to say that Pynchon returned to the site at a later time and slipping to his death on the same spot. Pynchon actually died Jan. 2, 1910 in Oyster Bay, L.I., information I verified from two different websites, one of which is here: http://www.americanancestors.org/novelist-thomas-pynchon/ There are a couple of oddities about the Pynchon article in Connecticut Quarterly. One oddity is that he refers to years as 18--, a literacy style of the time used in stories to keep them somewhat timeless. The other oddity is that the article is full of pictures of the ill-fated trip, yet there are no pictures of the black dog, which supposedly followed them the whole day. From a lack of common sense point of view, they were up there in February in icy and snowy conditions, presumably without any sort of crampons. I will not hike at West Peak under anything but dry conditions because there are far too many places to slip and go over the edge. I have never seen the legendary black dog up there and I have a friend who does trail maintenance there, and he has never seen this mysterious mutt either.

Submitted by Nano (not verified) on
FYI - there are also surgeries available to remove the fingers and brains of annoying humans. "...Barking is a dog's means of communicating many feelings—fear, frustration, pain, boredom, or even happiness. This cruel procedure strips dogs of their natural ability to vocalize and communicate. Depriving them of their primary means of expression is unjustifiably cruel. Debarking, or devocalization, is an invasive surgical procedure that involves removing a large amount of laryngeal tissue. It involves a great deal of postoperative pain. Because this procedure is unnecessary and inherently cruel, many veterinarians condemn it and refuse to perform it. If your dog has a barking problem, don't accept debarking as a solution. Instead, deal with the problem for what it is: a symptom of boredom and loneliness! There are lots of simple and effective solutions.."

Submitted by Avalo (not verified) on
Nano, ray mentionex that as he said a not so real prospective. This dog is reportedly a spirit with history not a debarked dog that suffered through a surgery unnecessarily

Submitted by Heather A. (not verified) on
F.Y.I... there are many dogs at this park, and on the trails. Also not so uncommon, well behaved dogs with out leashes, Lmao! It is an awesome hike though with amazing views! I was there last with my boyfriend and his dog this past January. we're both familiar with the "legend dog" and agreed it's quite likely just a common dog in a common park with out a leash. guess i should go back some time. Another great place to hike near by, Sleeping giant! It's beautiful there, the whole Quinnapiac campus is just gorgeous.

Submitted by Babs (not verified) on
1992 walking in Hubbard Park a black dog came running out of the woods to the path/clearing. He stopped for a time and just stared at me. This was what I found strange, my dog didn't react one way or another. She just looked at the Black Dog, who turned around and slowly trotted back to the woods. I read online. Somewhere that the dog is a ghost dog who is looking for his owner who fell to his death in the late 1800's. The story goes that the dog's master fell to his death after surveying the area, and the dog stayed by his side, eventually dying himself. BTW, never been back and didn't know about the story until a few years back. OooooWeeeeOoooo

Submitted by Yaznellie (not verified) on
My story it a little different , when I was 16 me and three other friends we dicide to go up there , it was day time when we got there but when it got darker the car wouldn't start but the light work , we saw a dog go in front of the car, so I got out and call call the dog , the dog was black and white a little smaller then a golden , I remember looking at his face and I jump on top of the car , the dog didnt made a noice but he was deform , his teeth look like a vampire teeth , I was so scare my friends stood inside the car and they got scare also , after we all saw that dog the car starter back up , I thought that was crazy and I never when back there ,,now it been 28 year since that day and I never when back and I never will,,,,

Submitted by Tanner (not verified) on
I saw this dog twice looked just like what the guy said Jess thereearlyer today was my second time seeing it never going there again

Submitted by tjw (not verified) on
I lived nearby and walked in the woods all around the Metacomet trail (aka the Blue Trail) as a kid back in the late 60's and on into my teens. Sometimes by myself and often with friends, and sometimes camping overnight. I did hear about the legend of the black dog but had never seen it. Coming upon this website reminded me. I'd love to see it. The hiking and views from the ridges along the mountain from Castle Craig all the way down towards the area above East St. in Southington are some of the best.

Submitted by jefferson delorean (not verified) on
hello there, my name is jefferson delorean. i have a quite a story here for all of you members of this website. i went out in the woods behind my house and came across a four wheeler path. so i followed it until it came to a sudden end. of course, i was hunting squirrels with my step step half brother in law, so i had a saiga fully automatic 12 gauge magazine fed shotgun loaded with dragons breath and buckshot. of course, i had my drum mag in it. anyhow, i started hearing noises from in the woods near the end of the path. i drew back the bolt on my saiga and let it go. one round chambered. hehe, what ever was making that sound was about to have about 3600 flaming holes in his body. so i began firing. after i had fired 13 drum mags of dragons breath, the barrel was cherry red. i had mowed down the bushes for a quarter mile but the was no blood. then a little puppy came out of the bushes. he was all black. he barked at me but made no sound. well, maybe he did but i just fired about 7000 rounds of 3 and a half inch 12 gauge shells so i couldnt here anything. within secondes, connecticuts finest were on the scene. i told them the story of what i had seen. they pulled out theyre pistols and began combing the woods. the teams commander stayed back so i asked him what are they doing? he said, you havent heard of the black dog? of damned conecticut? i obviously hadnt. he asked if id seen it before. i had twice before so i told him that. he said to get into the nearst armored van possible. my saigas barrel was still cherry red and fire begand protruding from it. i heard a scream. so i cocked my saiga and went hunting for it. then i was far away from the police when i felt like i was being watched. so i turned around a firing. well i killed all the cops that had followed me thinking they were black dogs. my gun caught fire for real. it was burning. so i called mr. sargent snuglypuss, a friend of mine to come help out. read his story below.

Submitted by No (not verified) on
You may be awesome, but I don't know it

Submitted by Phil (not verified) on
I went to the park for the very first time today, after being a lifelong CT resident. Beautiful park. We did not see anything abnormal, but my dog slipped from my hands and took off for a few minutes. She happens to be black, so I apologize for potentially scaring the wits out of any of fellow hikers this afternoon.

Submitted by David (not verified) on
I grew up on the mountain rode my horses up there all over that Mountain it is a beautiful place regardless of the Famed Black Dog. Legend has it from the oldest source I know to be true and accurate is that way back a civil war soldier was injured during is duty and did not want any further contact with people a hermit if you would, so he and his four legged companion retreated to the safe unspoiled at the time confines of the west peak of meriden mountain he loved the veiw to the west as his love one and only was from that direction. He was a hard man to track as he would avoid people as best he could. Well he passed away in his cabin which was at the site on the edge of the sheer drop part of his foundation is still there today but most would never know this well his Black dog Badger is said to still Roam the area to this Day mostly foggy Days you can see him He will not harm you he is just looking for his master Bill is all I know He was very old and I do know the old man who told me this story up there was a friend of his he used to bring him supplys way back when he was young he was up the with me on the mountain in the late 70s it also is said that he was a top soldier and did not want any records of that. Someone should find out more about Bill and Badger I am very old now as old as the old gentleman who had passed this information on to me so many years ago. Ive seen Bills dog a few times in my life something like 5 to 8 times I think its time for me to check on the site again as it may be the last time I could make the trip alone. I hope you find this info helpful God Bless

Submitted by Tristan (not verified) on
My girlfriend and I saw a stray black dog on our hike down from Castle Craig. We were walking back on the road that leads up to the castle when we saw the dog about a hundred feet in front of us. We decided not to approach until the dog left the trail and went into the woods. It was probably a stray black dog because people walk up there with their dogs all the time, but it’s creepy to consider the alternative explanation.

Submitted by Tim (not verified) on
I grew up in Meriden and was a local in this town. I have investigated the paranormal in this state and was intrigued by the legend of the black dog of hanging hills. It was night and I was with my brother and a friend. We decided that we were going to walk the trails at night in Hubbard Park. At one point we all got separated from one another and I ended up on the bridge over the highway. I cross from one side of the bridge to the other and when reaching the other side I came in contact with a black dog barking at me from on top of a boulder. I looked directly at the dog and then turned my head away for a second to look back toward the bridge. When I looked back to where the dog was, he was gone. There was no way with in one second could a dog just disappear without me seeing it leave. There are so many stories that surround the Hanging Hills and it is possible that the black dog could be linked to paranormal or ancient Native American Legends that surround those mountains. The hanging hills extend from Hubbard Park (Formerly known as West Peak State Park) straight through to Giuffrida Park in Meriden, CT. So this legend has a long range of mountains to hide and roam.

Submitted by Robin (not verified) on
They say the legend is that the dog dosent bark though

Submitted by Robin (not verified) on
I Live on the meriden berlin town line and my house is right next to the park my family even owns property over there but we have never seen it some people may have seen my old dog sometimes because he is just like the dog that they described ive been to castle creig and hubbard park a miillion times although there was a man in 2011 and he fell off the cliff at castle creig it may or may not be conected but i have heard about things like that before.

Submitted by Joe (not verified) on
The black dog appears to exist and there has been cases of suicides and deaths in Hubbard Park over the years...