Massachusetts has many interesting and beautiful outdoor spaces to explore across the state, including more than 45,000 acres of state parks. One popular state park to visit is Purgatory Chasm State Park, which is on Purgatory Road in Sutton, close to Worcester, Massachusetts. It was declared a state park in 1919. The main feature of the park is a 0.25-mile chasm of granite that is 70-foot deep. Along the chasm, there are boulder caves and precipices. Although there are several theories of how the chasm was formed, the most popular theory is that bedrock blocks were ripped out by meltwater from a burst idle dam at the end of the Ice Age. If you are visiting Sutton or the surrounding area, then set aside a day to visit this unique landmark. Entry to the park is free, although there are daily fees to use the park’s parking lots.
1. Hike Through Beautiful Scenery
Most people who visit Purgatory State Park do so to enjoy a walk around the park, taking in the unique scenery. There are two miles of hiking trails to explore within the park that take visitors through and around the chasm. Along the way, hikers go through rock formations, wooded areas, and elevated sections that offer views over the chasm. However, some sections of the park trails are closed during the winter months due to icy conditions.
2. See Unusual Rock Formations
According to Mass.gov, one of the best reasons to visit Purgatory Chasm State Park is to see the unusual rock formations. Some of the most famous rock formations in Purgatory Chasm are Lovers’ Leap, The Coffin, and The Corn Crib. Each of these rock formations is a fantastic photographic opportunity. In addition to the rock formations, other interesting features of the chasm include boulders and caves.
3. Take the Children to the Playground
A say out at this state park is a suitable activity for people of all ages. If you have children, then they can have a lot of fun in this outdoor space. Not only can they enjoy a walk and scrambling over the rocks, but there is also a children’s playground. If you want to sit down and have a rest but the children want to continue having fun, take a seat on one of the benches where you can watch the kids playing on the equipment.
4. Enjoy a Picnic or BBQ
If you decide to spend the day exploring the outdoors, then pack a picnic to enjoy during your day out. There are several picnic areas within Purgatory Chasm State Park where you can sit down for a break and grab a bite to eat, including a covered picnic pavilion. There is also the option to enjoy some hot food while you are at this park, as there are grilling facilities for visitors.
5. Take Your Dog for a Walk
If you are a resident of the area looking for somewhere to walk your dog, or you are a visitor that has brought your canine friend along on your travels, then Purgatory Chasm State Park is an excellent option for dog walkers. According to Bring Fido, well-behaved dogs are permitted at this park, although you must keep your dog on the leash at all times. It is also expected that responsible dog owners will clean up their dog’s mess.
6. Have Fun Rock Climbing
A popular activity in Purgatory Chasm Park is rock climbing. Mountain Project says that the climbs are most short, as the chasm is only 70-foot at its deepest point. However, the climbs are fun as the rock faces pose various challenges. It is important to note that rock climbing is not permitted during the winter months when the chasm becomes icy. Another important point to note is that a permit is required to enjoy rock climbing within this park.
7. Try Cross-Country Skiing
If you visit the park during the winter months when the conditions are icy, rock climbing is not allowed, and some sections of the hiking trails are closed. However, this does not mean that you cannot enjoy the park at this time of the year. An alternative activity that is offered during the winter is cross-country skiing, which is a fun way to get around the park and enjoy its unique features.
8. Take Part in the Educational Programs
Throughout the year, the park management runs various educational programs that give an insight into the park. These relate to the park’s history, the geographical features of the park, the wildlife, and the park’s ecosystem. Some are aimed at adults, while others aim to educate children and are suitable for all the family. Check what is on before your visit, as you may need to book a place to participate in one of these programs.
9. Learn About the Park at the Visitor’s Center
Within the park, there is a Visitor’s Center. It is the starting point for many visitors, as it has maps of the park and its trails, and the staff can offer guidance about how to get the most out of your time at the park. There is also a small exhibition about the park’s history, geography, and wildlife in the park.
10. See the Wildlife
Purgatory Chasm State Park is a fantastic place for nature lovers to visit as the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife. There are many woodland animals and multiple bird species, so it is a popular spot for birdwatching. At the end of the chasm is a pond that is home to frogs, fish, and turtles, says New England Nomad. Spotting the different creatures is something that adults and children alike can enjoy.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson