A Visit to Purgatory Chasm State ReservationA unique adventure climbing rocks and boulders
This unique natural landmark, Purgatory Chasm is different than any other state park around. Instead of just walking through the woods, it's about climbing rocks big and small. Lots of free parking. Grills and picnic tables, bathrooms, as well as a terrific playground for the little ones.
This unique natural landmark, Purgatory Chasm is different than any other state park around. Instead of just walking through the woods, it's about climbing rocks big and small.
Popular with picnickers and rock-climbers alike, the Chasm is believed to have been created by a sudden release of dammed-up glacial meltwater near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 14,000 years ago. Pretty amazing.
Again, this trail is for the surefooted and sneakers or rugged adventure sandals are highly recommended if you plan to traverse the rocky trail.
"...Hikers beware of the dangers of this trail...." Our kids really enjoyed exploring this park.
The chasm trail runs for a quarter of a mile between granite walls rising as high as 70 feet. Trails lead to a wide variety of rock formations, with offbeat names as The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lovers' Leap and Fat Man's Misery. Let's take a quick tour!
The trail runs for a quarter of a mile between granite walls rising as high as 70 feet. It's a really cool place to explore, and unlike any other in the area.
As you can see, there will be lots of climbing over, around and through a variety of large rock formations.
For the not so adventurous and nimble, the park also offers an opportunity to watch rock climbers or just walk around on a regular wooded hiking trail.
Make sure to look up, and all around to see just how large and interesting the rock formations are. It really is an amazing place.
Fat Man's Misery
Fat Man's Misery is a thin path that cuts through a giant rock. You can see it in the background here, the gouge running across the rock face across the three trees to the left. More photos below will give you more perspectives.
Here's a view from above Fat Man's Misery. You can see that the crevice is only about 2 or so feet wide. Definitely an experience to walk through.
Here's another view from above - it's fun to sit up here an watch as people make their way through it. Getting to the opening is a little precarious, as it sits on the edge of a ledge.
Reverse view of me IN Fat Man's Misery as I make my way to the exit.
Here's one last view of Fat Man's Misery from afar after I made it through.
The terrain is moderately challenging and really interesting and makes for a very cool experience.
Can you find the silhouettes of two people in the picture below? Gives you a sense of the scale of the crevice and the giant boulders.
There are lots of little caves, and crevices to discover, with intriguing names, like Devil's Coffin and Lovers Leap. Some areas are a little scary to walk through, as there are a few spots with somewhat steep drops, without any safety rail.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of cool photo ops, so make sure you have your phone or a camera to capture some of these unique formations.
Up the hill from the parking area, you'll find this giant rock face that is fun to clamber up and down. It's steep so getting down is more of a scooting down than climbing. Worth doing once for the experience of it, or just watching others take a turn.
It's not as easy as it seems. Especially when you have to make your way back down! You'll have to scoot yourself down - at least I did!
Climbing up these roots to a fun little natural perch.
So many nooks and crannies to climb around as well as a waterfall of tree roots that have spilled down through the rocks to the earth.
There is lots of parking, grills and shaded picnic tables are available, as well as a terrific playground for the little ones.
You'll find a marvelously fun merry go round, large climbing structure with slides, bridges, and a really cool log rolling simulator. It's free, has a place to picnic, play ball/frisbee, go the bathroom, and get water. Truly a wonderful day trip.
This play area offers lots of shade and lots of fun equipment for kids to let off some steam. We brought a picnic in and enjoyed that at one of the many picnic tables. We also noticed that there are a number of BBQ grills that others were using.
**Please be advised the hiking the chasm is recommended for sure-footed visitors ages 6+. Rubber soled shoes are highly recommended. The rocks are large, and can be slippery and hard to navigate. Some areas (for instance, the entry point to Fat Man's Misery) have a dangerously steep drop with no safety rail. Know your limits**.
Parking Rates & Info
MA resident $5
Non-MA resident $20
Daily parking fee is charged Memorial Day weekend through November
Stacey Sao has been the Managing Director of the family-friendly events and activities website, BostonCentral for over 20 years. She continues to enjoy discovering and exploring new places to visit in the Greater Boston area.