This incredible, hidden Massachusetts canyon is worth a visit before the season is over. Filled with enchanting brooks, massive glacial boulders and dramatic cliffs, walking through Purgatory Chasm is like entering another world.
This hike is tucked away in the town of Sutton, and leads through one of the state’s most underrated parks. Be sure to bring your spirit of adventure and plenty of trail mix.
You'll start your journey at the Purgatory Chasm State Reservation visitor's center.
Little ones will be happy to find a playground here, fully-equipped with swings and a merry-go-round. The center also can provide plenty of information regarding the best hiking routes for your needs, safety tips, and access to bathroom and water fountains.
From there, you'll head out into the park. The hike through the main portion of the chasm is about a mile, though you can make it a longer, 2-mile loop trail if you wish.
Wear sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and pack a picnic lunch. There's no better place to stop for a break than on one of the massive boulders strewn throughout the park. The trail can get a little rough during the 0.5-mile stretch that runs directly through the chasm, so take extra care in that area.
You'll marvel at the rocky walls of the gorge that rise over 70 feet in the air on either side.
One of the coolest things about this place is how accessible and explorable it is. Not a professional rock-climber? No problem. You can scramble all over these crazy boulders without needing to gear up. Just be sure to watch your step and take a buddy along.
This hiking destination is surreal for so many reasons. Enchanting brooks gurgle between the rocks, and lush ferns carpet the landscape in the spring and summer.
The chasm is always much cooler than the surrounding area, sometimes by a full ten or 15 degrees. That makes it the perfect place to escape the heat and get a bit of adventuring in at the same time.
Some of the granite boulders have otherworldy names, such as Fat Man’s Misery, Corn Crib, and the Devil's Coffin.
Depending on the season, Purgatory Chasm comes to life with all manner of bizarre and wonderful flora.
Keep an eye out for colorful mushrooms and mosses. The damp nooks and crevices of the rocky valley are perfect for fungi. Just don't touch the mushrooms unless you are completely sure of the species.
The tiny rivulets of clear water that run between the larger stones are like something from an enchanted forest.
Visit during the springtime to see the streams of Purgatory Chasm looking their best.
The twisted roots and gnarled branches of ancient trees reach down into the chasm. They provide the perfect foothold for climbing or shade for a quick rest.
It's hard to believe that some of these huge trees are seemingly growing right out of the hard, stone shoulder of the rocky valley.
This place can be safe and fun for kids, as long as you keep a close eye on them.
Tip: if you're planning on visiting with children, make sure it hasn't rained in a few days. The rocks can be very slick when wet, and some of the shady places can stay damp long after the showers have ended.
You won't regret a visit to one of Massachusetts' most dramatic hiking spots. Unless you forget to bring your camera.