Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

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Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
Massachusetts State Park
Purgatory chasm view 2.jpg
Looking south into the chasm
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Worcester
Town Sutton
Elevation 472 ft (144 m) [1]
Coordinates 42°07′45″N 71°42′43″W / 42.12917°N 71.71194°W / 42.12917; -71.71194Coordinates: 42°07′45″N 71°42′43″W / 42.12917°N 71.71194°W / 42.12917; -71.71194 [1]
Area 100 acres (40 ha) [2]
Established 1919
Management Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Location in Massachusetts
Website: Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation is a Massachusetts state park located off Route 146 on Purgatory Road in the town of Sutton. The park, managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, is notable for its .25-mile-long (400 m), 70-foot-deep (21 m) chasm of granite bedrock[3] featuring abrupt precipices and boulder caves in which ice lingers into the early summer.


Several theories have been proposed to account for the chasm's creation.[4] According to one, the chasm was created when glacial meltwater from a burst ice dam ripped out blocks of bedrock at the end of the last Ice Age (14,000 years ago).[3] Purgatory Chasm was declared a state park in 1919.


The reservation is open to picnicking and hiking; rock climbing is allowed by special permit only. There are 2 miles (3.2 km) of hiking trails around the chasm. Although the park is open year round, the chasm itself is closed to hikers and climbers during the winter months because of ice hazards.

The reservation includes picnic areas with grills, a visitors center, and playground.

In art[edit]

A book of poems by Susan Edmonds Richmond titled Purgatory Chasm, a song by Holly Hanson of Neptune's Car titled "Lover's Leap (The Purgatory Chasm Song)," and the Steve Ulfelder novel Purgatory Chasm were inspired by hikes in the chasm.



  1. ^ a b "Purgatory Chasm State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "2012 Acreage Listing" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Purgatory Chasm State Reservation". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 
  4. ^ Pelto, Mauri S. "How did it form?". Dudley, Mass.: Nichols College. Retrieved August 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]