CURRENT ACCESS ALERTS

Maryland Heights, MDSeasonal Cliff Closure for Peregrine Falcons. See our recent post
Franklin, WVIssue: No Trespassing signs have been posted on the property during hunting season. It is recommended to avoid climbing during the hunting season September 27 to December 31. Please respect this private property, practice Leave no Trace, help remove litter and trash, do not camp, and respect any future wishes of the landowners regarding access.
Governor Stable, PA Issue: BACK AREA (past Pyramid Boulder) CLOSED indefinitely
Latest News/More Info: South Central Pennsylvania Climbers secured a year-to-year lease that grants bouldering access for January-August 2016 from the entrance through the Pyramid Boulder. See their website and Facebook page for more information.
Coll’s Cove, PAIssue: Parking payment required; no parking allowed on entrance to gas road
Latest News/More Info: Please follow the Coll’s Cove Facebook page for the latest info on parking payment. The current situation is described here.

CLIMBING IN THE MID ATLANTIC

Here are some of our favorite places to climb in the region:

MARYLAND       VIRGINIA     WEST VIRGINIA    PENNSYLVANIA

Carderock, MD

Why we love it: The 2 minute approach, and the techy slabs!

Area tips: These routes are hard for their grade, especially at the start. This is due to the era in which the climbs were put up and the polishing effect of the silty soil on the soft rock.  Don’t let the ratings discourage you Carderock has great climbing from 5.3-5.13! Bring a 30’-60’ section of static rope to set up a top rope. 

Additional beta: Carderock Guide by PATC-MS, Mountain Project, Rock Climbing Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland by Eric Horst.

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC and the PATC-MS are the official “Canal Stewards” of this section of the C&O Canal Historic Park meaning that these two organization are responsible for much of the maintenance of the area. MAC also hosts an annual Adopt a Crag at Carderock focusing on mitigating user impacts, trail work, trash pick-up and occasionally graffiti removal.

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John Gregory climbing Elsie’s, Carderock. Photo credit Chris Irwin.

 

Northwest Branch, MD

Why we love it: Bouldering and a little top roping within minutes of Washington, DC. Often one of the only accessible spots in the region shortly after a snow storm.

Area tips: Hot and humid in the summer. Unfortunately, a few boulders have been covered in paint, making the problems quite difficult. 

Additional beta: Robin’s Bouldering Page and Dr. Topo

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC hosts annual Adopt a Crags at Northwest Branch, and we are continually working to remove graffiti.

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Long Wall at Northwest Branch. Photo credit Robin Close.

Rocks State Park, MD

Why we love it: Strawberry Jam Pillar is a free-standing spire with several great routes. The park also has a great collection of top-ropes, trad lines, and boulder problems to keep all sorts of climbers interested.

Area tips: A standard single rack for leading. Top roping will require some gear anchors and ~30ft of static rope or webbing.

Additional beta: RSP Bouldering Guidebook by Crank Climbing, Climb Maryland! by Mark “Indy” Kochte, Mountain Project, Rockclimbing.com

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC hosts adopt-a-crags at the park. In 2012 and 2013, MAC hosted Rockfest at Rocks State Park working to improve climber access trails, “unearth” the parking lot boulder and assisting the park in the creation of natural play space.

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Moby Dick (V10), Rocks State Park. Photo credit Katelyn Dolan.

 

Sugarloaf, MD

Why we love it: A beautiful mountain setting, with great top ropes and some hidden boulders. Due to the abundant cracks, solid rock and moderate grades, Sugarloaf is a favorite spot to learn to place traditional protection.

Area tips: Bring a 40+ section of static rope for rigging top ropes. Obey the closing times posted by the Stronghold Corporations (land owner).

Additional beta: Climb Maryland! by Mark “Indy” Kochte, Mountain Project, Rockclimbing.com

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC has hosted several Adopt a Crags here to address the serious erosion problems on the Green Trail, remove graffiti and pick up litter.

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Sugarloaf bouldering. Photo credit Robin Close.

 

Patapsco State Park, MD (Ilchester, Friction Wall, Woodstock, Alberton, and more!)

Why we love it: Great after work cragging, and a nearly endless supply of exploratory bouldering. Blue Rose (5.8+) at Ilchester is a regional classic.

Area tips: At all areas in the park, stay off of the train tracks, they are owned by CSX.

Additional beta: John Kelbel’s Detailed Google Map, Mountain ProjectRockclimbing.com.

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC has done several Adopt-a-Crag events at Ilchester and is actively working with the State Park Service about on access to other climbing areas within the park. Read more in our recent blog posts

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Woodstock Cave, Patapsco State Park. Photo credit Robin Close.

 

Catoctin Mountain Park/Cunningham Falls State Park, MD

Why we love it: A number of high quality boulder problems less than an hour from metro DC.

Area tips: Catoctin is now open to bouldering, but there are still restrictions on roped climbing. The park is closed to ‘technical roped climbing’ with the exception of Wolf Rock. To climb at Wolf Rock you must obtain a permit from the park office.

At Cunningham Falls State Park, the Jonah Boulder is easily accessible and contains 10+ quality problems. There are no restrictions to climbing and bouldering at Cunningham Falls State Park.

Additional beta: Rockclimbing.com, Mountain Project

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: In 2016, Mid Atlantic Climbers and the Access Fund worked with Catoctin Mountain Park to open the park to bouldering. MAC will work to maintain a good relationship with the park through upcoming stewardship events and work to reducing restrictions on roped climbing.

 

Maryland Heights, MD (Harper’s Ferry, WV)

ACCESS ALERT: Sections of Maryland Heights cliff face and cliff top are closed to visitors to protect peregrine falcons 2/17/17

Why we love it: Maryland Heights is the tallest cliff in Maryland at ~300ft and it boasts long trad routes and a handful of hard sport routes.

Area tips: The rock at Maryland Heights is very dark and faces south making it ideal for sunny winter days but scorching during August. Climbers must sign-in at the ranger station located in Harpers Ferry, WV (across the pedestrian bridge) before climbing, and sign-out afterwards.  The park has issued seasonal closures of the cliff for nesting peregrine falcons in the spring since 2015.

Additional beta: Mountain Project, Rock Climbing.com, Climb Maryland! by Mark “Indy” Kochte

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC has hosted two adopt-a-crag with Harpers Ferry NPS. We are currently in discussions with the park service about establishing an official access trail to the base of Maryland Heights.

 

Frederick Watershed, MD (Bushwhack)

Why we love it: About 70 boulder problems from V0- to V8.

Area tips: First timers should go with someone with knowledge of the area.  It’s called Bushwhack for a reason.

Additional beta: Robin’s Bouldering Page

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Flipping the Switch, Bushwhack. Photo credit Robin Close.

Great Falls, VA

Why we love it: Longer and steeper routes than Carderock, and climbing right over the Potomac River in Mather Gorge.

Area tips: There is an entrance fee of $5 per vehicle, but consider buying a National Parks pass which will allow you to enter any National Park for free. Don’t get stuck in the traffic during peak visitor season (late spring, early fall), show up before 11:30am on the weekend and you should be good.

Additional beta: Mountain Project, Rockclimbing.com, Great Falls Guide

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: MAC hosts an annual Adopt a Crag at Great Falls and we stay in contact with the park about issues throughout the year.

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Climbers on Romeo’s Ladder (5.7), Great Falls. Photo credit Chris Irwin.

 

Shenandoah National Park, VA

Why we love it: Little Stoney Man provides some single-pitch traditional and top rope climbing with a short approach off of Skyline Drive.  Old Rag offers the only true granite splitter cracks between North Carolina and New Hampshire. The routes at Old Rag run the gamut from runout slabs, to steep sport lines, to parallel sided cracks with ratings from 5.5 up to 5.13.

Area tips: Old Rag is a backcountry area and extreme care should be taken when accessing and climbing there. Old Rag granite is sharp; taping up for the cracks is a must. Old Rag Mountain is a designated wilderness area, so no motorized equipment may be used. Backcountry camping permits are required in the park.

Additional beta: Mountain Project

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: In 2012 MAC hosted our first Rockfest event with more than 80 volunteers coming out for a weekend of clean-up, trail work, and climbing. MAC also provided input to the park’s Rocky Outcrop Management Plan (ROMP), a document that balances resource preservation and recreation.

 

Buzzard Rock, VA

Why we love it: Great slab mixed climbing within an hour and a half of the DC area, ranging from 5.3 to 5.10.

Area tips: Parking at the Buzzard Rock trailhead is limited.  Consider carpooling.

Additional beta: PATC-MS, Mountain Project

 

Talking Headwall, VA

Why we love it: Moderate sport climbing within an hour and a half of the DC area.

Area tips: This is a small crag. Play nice, share, and watch where you throw your gear.

Additional beta: Mountain Project

 

Coopers Rock State Forest, WV

Why we love it: Some of the best sandstone bouldering in the region.  Also popular for top roping and trad.

Area tips: Park gate is closed Dec. 31 – April 1 of every year, but area is still open if you don’t mind a 2-3 mile hike in.  Camp in the forest, or at Sand Springs or Chestnut Ridge about 10 minutes away.

Additional beta: Coopers Rock Bouldering Guide and The Coopers Rock Foundation

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: We held our 2014 Rockfest and 2015 Rockfest events at Coopers Rock, with volunteers completed trail work, brush clearing, graffiti removal, and other activities.

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Mountaineer’s Route, Coopers Rock State Forest. Photo credit Arthur Hsu.

 

Seneca, WV

Why we love it: Excellent multi-pitch traditional climbing with lots of exposure.

Area tips: Seneca is a traditional climbing area.  For a majority of the routes, you will need to place your own protection, and build a gear anchor at the top of the pitch.

Additional beta: Mountain Project, Rockclimbing.com, and of course Tony Barnes’s Guidebook

 

Franklin, WV

ACCESS ALERT

Why we love it: A variety of sport climbing (5.8-5.13) and closer than the New River Gorge. This is often where many local climbers cut their teeth on sport climbs.

Area tips: Carpool and exercise Leave No Trace practices. DO NOT PARK IN FRONT OF THE GATE.

Additional beta: Mountain Project, Rockclimbing.com

 

Safe Harbor, PA

Why we love it: Primarily sport, primarily slab, this spot has some great routes in many grades.  This area receives great sun and is an excellent winter crag option.

Area tips: Safe Harbor “South” was recently reopened.  Safe Harbor “North” is still closed.

Additional beta: Mini-guide provided by Eric Hörst

What we’re doing to preserve access:  Mid Atlantic Climbers and Earth Treks Columbia raised money to support the bolt replacement initiative at Safe Harbor.

 

Governor Stable, PA

ACCESS ALERT

Why we love it: A very concentrated area of quality diabase boulder problems.

Area tips: Friends of Governor Stable secured a year-to-year lease that granted bouldering access for January-August 2014 from the entrance through the Pyramid Boulder.  A year-long paid membership or day pass was required.  Follow their website and Facebook page for news on whether a new lease is negotiated for next season.

Additional beta: Friends of Governor Stable and the Governor Stable Bouldering Guide (currently sold out)

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The Egg, Governor Stable. Photo credit Arthur Hsu.

 

Governor Dick Park (aka Mt. Gretna), PA

Why we love it: A forest full of diabase boulders.

Area tips: Some of the areas are a bit spread out and there are many trails criss-crossing the forest.  The Visitor Center has trail maps if you need one.

Additional beta: Governor Dick Bouldering Committee and the Governor Dick Bouldering Guide

What we’re doing to preserve climbing access: Mid Atlantic Climbers has partnered with the Governor Dick Bouldering Committee on trail work and clean-up events including cleaning off new slabs in the Emerald City area in 2015.

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Coleflesh, Mt. Gretna. Photo credit Arthur Hsu.

 

Coll’s Cove, PA

ACCESS ALERT

Why we love it: Some of the best sandstone bouldering in the region.

Area tips: Parking payment required; no parking allowed on entrance to gas road. Please follow the Coll’s Cove Facebook page for the latest info on parking payment. The current situation is described here.

Additional beta: Coll’s Cove Facebook page

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Thumb Wrestling, Coll’s Cove. Photo credit Arthur Hsu.