Purgatory Chasm – Sutton

Our family feet have been eagerly dashing around, but not anywhere that was worth blogging about.  This weekend, summer officially began in our household as Evie’s gymnastics schedule changed and Saturdays are officially free for the whole family. We celebrated by heading somewhere where Evie could explore and adventure – Purgatory Chasm State Reservation.

This was not a hiking trip, it was an exploring trip.  Our goal was to let Evie climb rocks, wriggle through caves, and feel the freedom of summer.  It was a clear success.

Parking at the reservation is $5, and we saw plenty of cars being ticketed. We have a state parks pass, which covered us for the day — very nice.  We had to drive around for a few laps to find an empty parking spot; evidently nice summer days are a good time to visit one of the state’s most popular properties.

We started exploring some of the rocks around the entrance, including this massive one which Evie compared to the famous “Warped Wall” of Ninja Warrior fame.


But, Evie quickly dashed into the chasm itself.



We explored the chasm for a while, venturing off on side paths and climbing over and under a great many rocks.



At the end of the chasm, we continued straight along the Little Purgatory trail, which covers some wet woodlands before reaching another rocky area.




After exploring the rocky area near the end of the trail, we followed it back to the chasm.


From there, we followed the Chasm Loop Trail which climbed up some rocks and then hugged the southern rim of the chasm, providing some intense views down.




Along this part of the trail is “Fat Man’s Misery”, a crack in the rock which our brave daughter had no trouble traversing.  I didn’t try it, myself.



Not far from there, we stumbled onto some wild blueberry bushes.  Someone is in for a treat in a couple weeks…


After finishing the exploration, we headed back to the entry of the chasm and bought popsicles from the ice cream cart.  Not a bad way to finish the day!


Before we had even gotten home, Evie was asking when we could go back….

Alden Bryan Brewster River Trail – Cambridge, Vermont

This Memorial Day, we took a long weekend trip to Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont with some friends. Vermont is a great state; they’ve really figured out quite a bit about what makes New England great (other than, I guess, beaches), their mountains are more inviting and approachable than New Hampshire’s, and they have some of the best beer in the country.

On Saturday, we had breakfast in town and then browsed at a farm store across the street. Our friend Sean talked up someone selling local honey, and found out about a nearby short hike that would lead us to a waterfall. We made it our next stop.

Immediately off Route 108, there’s a small turnoff with a covered bridge that goes over the Brewster River. There’s a small parking area and picnic table overlooking the river here (“Brewster Park”), and we paused for a moment to stretch our legs and admire the scenery.



The water was shallow and inviting, but cold.  Not cold enough to keep my girls out, though….053

After posing for some pictures and skipping some rocks, we headed back up to the parking area and then across the covered bridge, and entered the trail.079

The kids were fascinated by the trail heading off into the woods, and took off at a run.  I can think of few sights more welcome!


The trail hugs the river and is fairly easy-going for most of its duration. It crosses a few little streams with small log bridges; these were fun and interesting, especially for the kids.  Periodically, the trail would expose beautiful views of the river.


On the opposite bank you can see a tent site; we weren’t clear if this was someone’s private property or a nearby campground.


Here you can see some of the erosion at work where the river has changed the shape of the boulders in the river over many years.

Before too long, we reached a fork in the trail.  Down would lead to the base of the falls, up to the top.  We started by heading down.


The falls are at the base of a steep and rocky gorge where fallen trees have collected over the years.  We paused here and soaked in the sun (the shady forest path had been fairly cool, but the rocks here which had been baking in the sun made an excellent recharging station). We explored, watched little fish dart around in the water, and skipped more rocks.  It was a beautiful quiet time, undisturbed and natural.



After a good chunk of sunny recharging time, most of us headed back up to the top of the gorge.  It was a short but steep climb, less than 5 minutes but our legs were feeling it by the end.  From the top we had incredible views of the gorge from the other side, as well as some roaring waterfalls leading into the gorge.




We stayed at the top for a shorter period of time, because our friend and her daughter were waiting for us at the bottom.  We returned back and the kids ran all the way back to the trailhead.

It was a great hidden treasure and I’m so glad we paused to talk to the locals and find it.  Next time we head to Vermont I will try and do more research on smaller trails ahead of time; it would have been a shame to miss this!