Among other outdoorsy offerings in Sutton, MA, Purgatory Chasm, though modest in size provides a richly diverse landscape. Anyone from the appreciative and leisurely strollers, to the hikers who are kids at heart can find their niche in this reservation. Bouldering and lung pumping terrains dominate the core, as rolling rock formations lead you through Chasm Loop Trail like a natural jungle gym. Towering along the sides are small cliffs that meet the heads of trees, leaving rays of sun to break through and lightly shade your climb.
What Makes It Great
You may be curious how the reservation came to bare names like Devil’s Pulpit, The Coffin and Fat Man’s Misery. As the legend goes the Native American devil dragged a woman who murdered another man through the chasm. Bowl-like depressions mark where she supposedly hit the boulder. The legend is much more treacherous than your visit will be, Purgatory Chasm is especially serene.
You can find small differences in the reservation depending on the time of year. In the early spring months, the glaciers create two small waterfalls along the Little Purgatory Trail. Our visit was a bit late in the season, so you’ll want to make it between early April and July to appreciate the winter’s aftermath. If you find yourself exploring during the winter months, Chasm Loop Trail is closed, but snowshoes and cross country skiing are welcome on all other trails. Charley’s Loop is the easiest, and lengthiest of the trails. Its walkability makes it ideal for cross country skiing without too much strain. Forrest Trail Road and Little Purgatory have some steeper sides for those looking for a bit of momentum to keep your blood moving.
Who is Going to Love It
The favorite among our group, and the favorite of many is the Chasm Loop Trail, which proves to be the most challenging of routes. Although with the right shoes and an adventurous attitude we found this moderately difficult climb can be taken on by anyone. For those looking to add more thrill to their visit, keep your eyes out on the left inside the half mile Chasm Loop. You’ll find dark but playfully named Lover’s Leap lookout point. Though steep and at times slippery it is a worthy detour.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Purgatory Chasm is located off of Route 146, exit 6 in South Central MA. The entrance will be 1,000 feet away on the right. Parking is generous, though I recommend visiting on weekdays— there’s half as many people. MA plates are charged $5 to park, out of state are charged $6.
Purgatory Chasm is dog friendly if they’re on leashes. Bathrooms are available and picnic tables line the park.
Right outside the visitor center is a playground and ice cream truck making for a family friendly environment. There’s no alcohol, but restaurants can be found 5 to 10 minutes away by car on Main St. and Boston Rd.