Purgatory Chasm — Another of Newport’s Hidden Treasures

purgatory_chasmAre you looking for something new to do while visiting Newport…something that is off the beaten path?  Summer is the perfect time of year to take a hike around Purgatory Chasm in neighboring Middletown.

The chasm was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers, and has been slowly eroded by seawater ever since. Today the chasm is about 10’ wide at the top, 120’ long, and over 50’ deep.

Upon arriving at the park’s entrance, you’ll take a short, 100 yard walk to the chasm area. And once you’re there, you can enjoy the beautiful view from the cliff overlooking Second Beach, the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, and Sachuest Bay or walk to the small pedestrian bridge, allowing you a view straight down into the center of the chasm.

Purgatory Chasm Folklore

One of the legends about Purgatory Chasm describes a beautiful but giddy young woman, heiress to a large estate, who had for some time received special attention from a young man, in all respects her equal, and whose affection, notwithstanding her actions to the contrary, she warmly reciprocated in her heart. But her passion for mischief was so strong, that she could never resist the temptation to torment her admirer.

One day, as they stood together on the brink of Purgatory Chasm, and he was pleading, with impassioned eloquence, for some pledge or token of love from her, she said, “I will be your wife if you will show the earnestness of your devotion to me, and your readiness to obey all my wishes, by leaping across this abyss.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the young man sprang to the other side of the rock, and then, politely lifting his hat, he complimented her beauty, told her candidly what he thought of her character, bade her final adieu, and she saw his face no more. After this, as the tale goes, she went mourning for the rest of her life.

How to Get There From the Cliffside Inn

Purgatory Chasm is only a five minute drive from the inn. For those looking for a nice walk, you can opt to begin your hike right from the inn and arrive at the chasm in about 35 minutes on the two mile walk.

Whether you’re driving or walking just follow these simple directions:

  1. Head West on Seaview Ave. toward Cliff Ave.
  2. Turn right onto Cliff Ave.
  3. Turn right onto Memorial Blvd
  4. Slight right onto Purgatory Rd
  5. Turn right onto Tuckerman Ave.

For more detailed directions on how to get to Purgatory Chasm from the inn, check out the directions provided by Google Maps or ask the innkeeper.

Photo Credit: CC Image Courtesy of Paul Irish

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