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Hike to it: Purgatory Chasm

by Ashley Arnesen

If you’re looking for a not so typical hike through the woods but a great adventure, check out Purgatory Chasm State Reservation.

Located in the town of Sutton, Massachusetts is a quarter mile long, 70 foot deep chasm of granite rocks featuring very steep rock faces and boulder caves.

This reservation is open to hiking and picking; rock climbing is allowed but only with a special permit.

There are a few safety precautions to take care of before you hike. This reservation is closed during the winter months to hikers and rock climbers due to ice hazards. Also, make sure to wear the proper shoes, granite rocks are very sleek and it’s easy to slip even when the rocks are not wet. But, if you’re up for a challenge and hike this place early enough in the spring, you may still see ice formed in the caves. The chasm itself is only about a quarter mile long but there are five other trails that lead around it, along the edge of the 70 foot high granite walls, and in the park area. You can walk, climb, and crawl directly through the 70 foot deep chasm (definitely recommended) and explore all the nooks and crannies it has to offer. There are plenty of caves to slip into if you dare find out what’s inside. During the summer months you can also feel the immediate difference in temperature when walking at the bottom of the chasm on top of the granite rocks. (They also have an ice cream stand during the summer) The trails also lead to a wide variety of rock formations, with unusual names such as Devil’s Corn Crib, Devil’s Coffin, Devil’s Pulpit, Lover’s Leap, His Majesty’s Cave, and Fat Man’s Misery (all of these areas are marked by plaques). If you enjoy small spaces and finding yourself standing at a 70 foot drop, and aren’t claustrophobic, trying squeezing yourself through Fat Man’s Misery. Or, if you like to explore small caves, and aren’t afraid of possibly getting stuck, then there a few unmarked caves (for safety reasons) that can be explored, you just need to find them. This is a place where you’ll be climbing through the quarry, leaping off granite boulders, dealing with jagged rock edges, sliding down stone faces, and encountering deceiving and slippery rocks. If this sounds exciting, this place is for you. This isn’t a relaxing hike through the woods; it’s a dangerous and thrilling climb.