Massachusetts Nature April 12, 2018
5 Little Known Canyons That Will Show You A Side Of Massachusetts You’ve Never Seen Before
Most people don’t think “Massachusetts” when they think of beautiful canyons. However, this state actually has some impressive gorges and valleys that are unexpectedly lovely. Here are some of our favorite canyons in the state.
1. Chesterfield Gorge, Chesterfield
Chesterfield Gorge is a stunning nature reserve that doesn’t look like something you’d expect to find in the coastal state of Massachusetts. The canyon itself was originally carved from the earth by glacial meltwater and is now filled with calm water. The gorge is surrounded by hemlock, oak, and pine forests with the occasional prowling bobcat or turkey. Though there’s no trail leading down to the bottom of the gorge, there is a half-mile trail along the cliff tops that offers dramatic views. This is a great place for a solo wander or excursion with friends, but the park is probably best suited to families with older children. (River Road, Chesterfield)
2. Purgatory Chasm, Sutton
Purgatory Chasm is a surreal place that looks like something from another world. Strewn with huge boulders that have odd names like Fat Man’s Misery, Devil’s Coffin, and Corn Crib, the canyon is surprisingly accessible even for novice hikers and casual explorers. You can reach it via a one-mile trail from the Purgatory Chasm State Park visitor’s center, though the trail can also be turned into a longer two-mile loop trail if you’re in the mood for a longer expedition. Be sure to wear sturdy, non-slip shoes and pack a snack to enjoy on one of the chasm’s cliffs. (198 Purgatory Road, Sutton)
3. Blackstone River Gorge, Blackstone
Located in Blackstone, this beautiful gorge is actually a public park with a rushing river and gorgeous waterfall. It offers a picturesque hiking trail that will reward you with spectacular views of the water from the top of the gorge’s cliffs. The trail is about 1.2 miles round-trip and is good for all skill levels. It’s a great place unwind after work or spread out with friends for a picnic by the rapids. Kids love climbing on the rocks (away from the cliffs, of course) and the park is small enough that you won’t be in danger of getting lost. Dogs are welcome on-leash. (County Street, Blackstone)
4. Cook's Canyon, Barre
Cooks Canyon is a small ravine through which the Galloway Brook flows. It was actually once a very popular tourist destination in the early 1900s due to the charming waterfall that can be found here. The cascade tumbles over a series of rocky ledges and is a beautiful spot to relax. The canyon area also offers stone walls that were once part of Barre’s old town "pound" and a one-mile trail that will take you through some of the park’s prettiest scenery. (South Street, Barre)
5. Hemlock Gorge, Newton
Hemlock Gorge is part of the Hemlock Gorge State Reservation in Newton. The gorge is a small wild area with the Charles River running through it. With just 23 acres of space, it’s great place to go for a short wander through nature. Be sure to check out Echo Bridge and the platform beneath the structure where you can enjoy a unique echo phenomenon. There’s free parking available in a small lot on the corner of Hamilton Place. (Hamilton Place, Newton)
These spots are sure to take your breath away. If you’re looking for another beautiful hidden spot right here in Massachusetts, check out this
gorgeous little slice of heaven.
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Massachusetts Nature Lovers Facebook group for more inspiration and your chance to have a nature photo featured!