Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

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

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
Purgatory chasm view 2.jpg
Looking south into the chasm
Looking up at Lovers Leap
Looking into His Majesty's Cave
Map showing the location of Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
Map showing the location of Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
Location in Massachusetts
LocationSutton, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Coordinates42°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]
Area100 acres (40 ha)[2]
Elevation472 ft (144 m)[1]
OperatorMassachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
WebsitePurgatory Chasm State Reservation


Various 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). Purgatory Chasm was declared a state park in 1919.[3]

Activities and amenitiesEdit

The park is open year round, although the chasm is closed to hikers and climbers during the winter months because of ice hazards. There are 2 miles (3.2 km) of hiking trails around the chasm; rock climbing is allowed by permit. The reservation also includes picnic areas, a visitors center, and playground.[3]

In popular cultureEdit

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 Purgatory Chasm, a novel by Steve Ulfelder, 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 c "Purgatory Chasm State Reservation". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  4. ^ Pelto, Mauri S. "Purgatory Chasm State Reservation: How did it form?". Dudley, Mass.: Nichols College. Retrieved August 14, 2013.

External linksEdit