Sunday, November 18, 2012

In My Footsteps: Purgatory Chasm

            One of the most incredible spots I have visited thus far is also one of the most dangerous.  It is located in the town of Sutton, Massachusetts tucked in the picturesque Blackstone River Valley.  It was designated a state park in 1919.  The basics are that Purgatory Chasm is a naturally formed, quarter-mile long granite gorge.  The walls on either side of the chasm rise as high as seventy-feet.
            It does not take very long to see how imposing Purgatory Chasm is.  The wooden sign pointing to the beginning is within sight of the opening.  The scattered boulders around the entrance make it seem virtually impassible, and at some points I thought it was.  There are warnings as soon as you begin your journey.  I highly recommend only attempting this during nearly perfect weather.  Even the slightest inclement weather would make hiking through the chasm a dangerous nightmare.
            There are some safe patches where you will walk the bare ground, but those are offset by large boulders that must be traversed as well.  Most of the dangerous work has been done, there are blue lines marking the safest route to take along the floor of the chasm.  One thing to watch for are the stream of chipmunks darting across the chasm floor, it became a game for me to see just how many of them I caught sight of.  There are spots along the chasm route that have unique names to them.  They include: His Majesty’s Cave, Lovers Leap, Devil’s Pulpit, and Devil’s Corn Crib.
            Though hiking the cliffs of the chasm is discouraged there is nothing stopping someone from trying.  I witnessed several people doing just that.  Seeing them make it safely to the top of the sloping rocks I decided to find my own place to try the same.  Since I am writing this I obviously succeeded.  The climb was not overly difficult, especially since I chose an easier path to the top.  I wanted to see the chasm from above but not kill myself attempting it.  For those of you wishing to see it from above but not willing to risk life and limb fear not, I shot a video of my time there and I am including a link to it.
            An incredible natural spot, Purgatory Chasm is somewhere that everyone should visit.  In addition to the gorge there are two miles of hiking trails around the gorge as well.  There is also a playground near the visitor’s center for kids who might not be able to safely navigate the chasm.  Of course the chasm itself is the main attraction as it should be.  Use care and caution when crossing the quarter-mile granite chasm, but also take the time to enjoy the natural beauty as well.  This is a true gem in the Blackstone River Valley.  Have fun and happy traveling!

Purgatory Chasm:  198 Purgatory Rd., Sutton, Massachusetts
            Take I-495 to Exit 13B for I-95, take Exit 4 to get on I-295.  Take Exit 9B for Rt. 146, take Exit 6 for Purgatory Rd.  Keep left at fork for Purgatory Chasm, destination will be on right.

The entrance

Lovers Leap

How the chasm looks from the inside.

People I saw rock climbing before I tried it myself.

Looking down from above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting name...