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Purgatory Chasm: Its Geology

 

JUNIOR RANGER PROGRAM AND SCHEDULE

JUNIOR RANGERS AT PURGATORY CHASM The Junior Rangers program has been updated for 2008. The children will take part in a series of hands-on activities meant to develop a better understanding of our geological and water resources and why we need to use them wisely. Participants will be given a workbook to keep. In addition, participants can earn a patch and a certificate.

The program for 6 - 9 year old children will begin Monday, July 7th. It will run from 1 PM to 2:30 PM for five consecutive Mondays (July 7th through August 4th).

The second session will be open to 10 - 14 year old children. It will begin Friday, August 1st and will run from 1 PM to 2:30 PM for five consecutive Fridays (August 1st through August 29th).

The programs are free. Registration prior to the events is required. A parent or guardian must accompany participants to this program.

The events are sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. Diane Romano, Park Interpreter, will lead the program. Contact Diane at 508-234-9610 to register for the programs. Questions should be directed to her at the above phone number. 

July Events

All Programs are free and open to the public.  An adult must accompany children. Reasonable accommodations available upon request. For more information call Diane at (508) 234-9610.
                                   

Thursday

July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Kidleidescope Kids Story Hour, 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Meet at the Purgatory Pavilion

 

Kidleidescope Kids is a reading-based program suited for youth from 3-6 year olds.  The program features a story, a short walk and a craft that focuses on nature. Parents/Caregivers are asked to accompany their child/children to this program.

Friday
July 4

Smokey Bear, 1 PM

Hike to Purgatory Brook, 3 – 4:30 PM

 

Smokey visits the park to celebrate the 4th of July and meet park visitors.

Later, join our park interpreter for an introductory hike along the new Purgatory Brook trail. We’ll discuss the flora and the fauna and look for geologic evidence of the ice age. The hike is suitable for anyone who is able to withstand a moderately strenuous hike. Sturdy footwear with non-slip soles recommended. Meet at the Purgatory Pavilion.

Saturday

July 5, 19

Going Bats!, 2 – 3 PM

Meet at the Visitor Center

 

Explore the myths and misconceptions about bats. Find out about how these shy, intelligent creatures live and why they play an important role in our ecosystem. Participate in a theme related activity. We promise lots of family fun that won’t drive you batty!


 

coming eventsSunday

July 6, 20

Chasm Tour, 2:00 – 3:15 PM

Meet at the Purgatory Pavilion

 

Learn about the mysteries of Purgatory Chasm, both geologic and historic. How was the chasm formed?  Why do chasm features have names like “Lover’s Leap” and “Devil’s Pulpit”? The tour is suitable for anyone who is physically able to withstand a fairly strenuous hike. Sturdy footwear with non-slip soles recommended.

Saturday

July 12, 26

Rock Detectives, 11:00 AM – Noon

Meet in the Visitor Center

 

Find out about the different rocks found at Purgatory Chasm and take the “rock detective” test. Accompany the Park Interpreter on a short hike to find examples. The activity is appropriate for anyone, and the hike is suitable for anyone who is physically able to withstand a short, fairly strenuous hike. Sturdy footwear with non-slip soles recommended.

Sunday

July 13, 27

Hike to Purgatory Brook, 2 – 3:30 PM

Meet at the Purgatory Pavilion

 

Join our park interpreter for an introductory hike along the new Purgatory Brook trail. We’ll discuss the flora and the fauna and look for geologic evidence of the ice age. The hike is suitable for anyone who is able to withstand a moderately strenuous hike. Sturdy footwear with non-slip soles recommended.

 

 

 

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation by Kara Howland


Finally, the snow and ice has cleared-it's beautiful out once again. The long and hard winter has given way to clear blue skies and bright warm sunshine and temperatures of nearly 60. How refreshing it is to feel the sun on your face and to finally be able to go outside with just jeans and a t-shirt on. It's time to put your heavy and bulky winter coat away for the season. A great place to enjoy the wonderful weather is the Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in Sutton. It's a leisurely drive through windy country back roads dotted with beautiful homes nestled amongst the deep woods, or a quick trip down Route 146 and it is right off the exit.

You may not even be aware that this gem of a state park even exists. It is almost hidden in the spacious and towering forest. So, if you are looking for an inexpensive and fun way to spend a spring or summer day, just pack a lunch, invite some friends along, or load up the kids in the car and take a nice drive to an interesting and beautiful spot. It makes for an adventurous daytrip. The parking is free, and there are places to sit and rest and eat a picnic lunch, or to bring hamburgers and hot dogs and use the grills and stone fireplaces that are there. You'll need a good lunch after a long day of hiking through the woods and caves!

According to Department of Conservation and Recreation's website, www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/central/purg.htm, Purgatory Chasm is a natural landmark, and stretches a quarter of a mile in between granite walls that can rise as high as 70 feet. There are some interesting names to the numerous rock formations, such as The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lover's Leap, and Fat Man's Misery. Although geologists will disagree on how the Chasm was formed, a popular theory is that almost 14, 000 years ago, dammed up glacial melt waters suddenly broke through and created the chasm.

Although people differ about the Chasm's origin, one thing that's not in dispute is its beauty. The area is picturesque and serene. The birds are singing and chirping, happily announcing the new arrival of spring. The air is crisp and clean here and it's a good place to clear your head and to appreciate Mother Nature and what she has to offer.   The towering pine trees and other trees grow tall and lush in the state park, some even are growing sticking out between two huge moss covered rock formations. On a sign at the park, visitors learn that Peter Whitney, "America's First Frontier", wrote in 1793 that the Chasm "is the most stupendous place, and fills the mind of the beholder with the most exalted ideas of the infinite power of the great Creator of all things". You just might agree with Whitney after visiting the Purgatory Chasm.

At the entrance to the park, Smokey the Bear, complete with cuffed jeans and his yellow hat, greets visitors with a friendly fire level danger sign, and urges you to prevent forest fires. The parking lot area is neat, tidy, and attractive, accented with white birch trees and tall dark red lampposts. Further down, there's a covered stone structure which houses picnic tables. The American flag whips proudly in the wind. In one area which abuts another parking area, flat and smooth rocks makeup big slanting wall covered with dropped pine needles and spotted with pine cones. The steep rock formations throughout the park are breathtaking. There are signs which point out the various areas and trails to visitors. There is also a sign warning visitors of the Chasm's "bold and unique landscape". It warns of the possibility of "slippery and deceiving rocks", so be careful while hiking.

The day that I visited, there were a fairly good number of visitors. A group of teenagers parked their car, got out, and bounded towards the caves. I could hear their whoops of laughter and shouting as they descended down into the caves and made their way through. I could hear them calling back and forth to each other as their voices echoed off the rock walls. I also saw some more dedicated hikers: two young men decked out with backpacks and sturdy boots quickly trekking over the jagged rock formations. There were also those there visiting the park who were just there to enjoy a quiet and relaxing stroll through the wooded trails that wind through the park or to take advantage of the more tame rock formations, like the young couple who walked out of the park holding hands and drinking from plastic water bottles, or the older man who brought a bag lunch and soda with him to enjoy quietly at one of the picnic tables.


The Purgatory Chasm is peaceful and quiet but not staid and boring. It is an ideal spot for people to go to enjoy the outdoors, appreciate the beauty of nature, or for a fun, adventurous and exciting outing.
 

 

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