Hike to Purgatory (Falls)

June 8, 2013.

A Saturday afternoon free and what to do? With all the recent rain why not a trip to Purgatory, falls that is. Can't explain why it's called Purgatory as it is definitely not a place one goes to suffer. There is also no info on the internet as to where the name derives from. The temps are in the 70's and a bright sunny day.

On the trail at 12:20 and the beginning in the summer is a green tunnel.

It only takes a few minutes and I reach the lower falls and they are flowing in good spirit thanks to mother nature.

Supposedly there are remnants of an old mill around this area but with the high water it is impossible to explore both sides of the brook. There is part of an old dam on top of the falls.

This trail is actually quite a gentle walk through the woods that for the most part follows right beside the brook. It changes quite a few times from a raging swollen brook to a melancholy slow moving stream.


There is one spot a little over a mile in that even in the dryer season is wet but today, unless you want a good shoe soaking, is impassible. Luckily there is a little herd path around this section. Shortly after I pass Janet's Bridge, which leads to a short trail on the other side of the brook, and then a curious and definitely challenging crossing to the middle of the brook. I chose not to take the challenge.


Passing another flooded section that used to be an old logging road and is now part of a snowmobile trail the trail starts to climb up from the brook. Heading down where there is no trail into the ravine to reach the middle falls

Heading back up the embankment and then to the top of the middle falls and a shot looking down.

A short ways up and there is a trail that leads down to the base of the upper falls but it is hard to get a good picture of how dramatic it is from this vantage point.

From the top of the falls it can be a little more appreciated as to the power of the water as a sluice has been cut through the bedrock.


Looking across and the Devil's Footprint and Pot can be seen. These were created by the swirling action of the water at one time long ago.

Instead of taking the usual out and back today I am going to take some of the other trails that are out here and loop my way back. So heading up the trail and reaching the point where Upton and Purgatory Falls Roads meet there is no way to get across that.

Continuing on I keep heading straight along this path that goes back into the woods and after following it a bit I realize this is not the correct trail. Looking at my GPS track on the first picture above it is the tail on the right side. Another day I'll follow this but it looks like a dirt bike trail more than a hiking trail. Back to Upton Road and I make the left onto it and start heading up in elevation until I reach the junction with Purgatory Road. Turning right onto this and it is a rutty flooded mess and just short of reaching the parking lot a vehicle is trying to make its way down it. He stops to ask how much further down it is to the falls and I recommend that he not try to take his car all the way in as the road is really not suitable for vehicular traffic. He turns around and I make my way to the Purgatory Road parking spot and head down the next section of trail that was logged out not too long ago. There is a great cleared out section that almost looks like someone was going to build a home there as the views are pretty good. Pack and North Pack Monadnock are visible from this vantage point.


Also Winn Mt can be viewed from here, another recent hike.


Back down the logging road and nature does not seem to have any issues with inter-racial relationships.

The rest of this trail is a quiet and peaceful walk thru the woods and makes it way back to Purgatory Brook Trail. And just after the swamped section a left turn onto the Upland Loop Trail and back to the car.

Final numbers: 8 miles, 4 hours.