"Glen" is a Scottish word for a narrow, rocky ravine, and "Parfrey" is after Robert Parfrey (1816-1883), an Englishman who acquired the Glen property in 1865.
A series of saw mills, for sawing timber, and grist mills, for grinding grain, was built in or near Parfrey's Glen over a 20-year period, beginning in 1846. Parfrey inherited one of these, a grist mill. The foundations can still be seen just south of the first major stream crossing. The earthen log dam for the millpond was located at the lower end of the gorge, where the trail ascends along the base of the west wall. Water was carried from the impoundment to the mill via a long flume supported on trestles. Parfrey worked at his mill, grinding grain and refinishing mill stones as they wore from grinding on each other, until 1876 when he moved to Minnesota.
Milling in the Glen was replaced by hiking and picnicking. People were visiting in sufficient numbers by the late 1800's to prompt an 1882 rumor that a large hotel was to be built at the Glen. Parfrey's Glen thus had a long history of public use before the State began acquiring land at this locality in 1947. In 2008, most of the trails and bridges were washed out during the June floods. Some have been replaced, but the groomed trail extends only about half way to the gorge and falls. One may proceed beyond the "Trails End" sign, however the journey is over rocks and at times, through the shallow stream. If you stop at the trailís end sign, you will have missed 90% of the fantastic beauty of the glen. So, go for it! You wonít be disappointed.
And a river runs through it. Well, not exactly, more like a stream
Many miniature water falls greet visitors
The quiet beauty of the glen has attracted visitors since the late 1800's
Quartzite boulders weighing over a ton were washed into the glen in ancient times
One hundred foot walls tower over the visitors, lower right
Gnarled tree roots, weathered by wind and water, evoke interesting shapes
The walls of the Glen are sandstone with embedded pebbles and boulders of quartzite. Pieces of quartzite up to about 1500 pounds must have been broken from nearby sea cliffs and swept by water for at least a quarter mile in ancient times in order for this formation to be here. The quartzite conglomerate is a "plum pudding" stone, in which the quartzite "plums" are cemented in sandstone "pudding." The sandstone represents an ancient sandy beach.
The falls at the end of the trail
The soothing sound of falling water is music to the soul