Your Voice Is Essential to the Future of Climbing at Seneca, Smoke Hole, Reed’s Creek, and Other Nearby Areas in the Monongahela National Forest

Credit Damon Yeh.


The Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, part of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, contains some of the most outstanding trad and sport climbing opportunities in the mid-Atlantic region. The lands within the National Forest are publicly-managed, meaning that YOU have a say in the future of climbing at Seneca Rocks, Smoke Hole, Reed’s Creek, and other areas. Whether you climb at these places multiple times per month, a few times a year, or just hope to someday climb there in the future, your input and perspective is valuable as the U.S. Forest Service determines how climbing will be managed for years to come.

Recently, the Forest Service started to seek public input on the development of a new climbing management plan for this region. A climbing management plan is a document that may direct which types of climbing are permitted and where, provide guidelines for trails and other infrastructure such as parking or camping areas, address the impacts of recreation to natural and cultural resources, manage future commercial and non-profit use,  and affect many other aspects of the outdoor recreation experience. Anyone, regardless of your background in climbing management, can provide useful input to Forest Service staff as they move this process forward. Some of the initial questions they are hoping to answer are:

  • Why does the public value these climbing locations?
  • What do we hope these climbing areas will look like 20 years from now?
  • What issues could the Forest Service and the climbing community address to improve future climbing experiences?

As one of the local climbing organizations in the mid-Atlantic region, Mid Atlantic Climbers recognizes the value of hearing perspectives from community members as we continue to participate in this process.

For that reason, we want to hear from YOU! Please fill out this survey to share your ideas for the future of climbing at Seneca Rocks, Smoke Hole, Reed’s Creek, and other crags. And, if you are interested in participating in future MAC conversations or Forest Service workshops on the climbing management plan, we’d love to hear that too.

MAC has worked with our partner Friends of Seneca for many years to assist with stewardship at Seneca Rocks through Adopt a Crags and other volunteer activities. As climbing continues to grow in popularity throughout the region and more people seek opportunities to get outdoors, it is increasingly important for climbers to both help take care of climbing areas and to get involved in access and management conversations. Even if the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area doesn’t contain one of your favorite crags, the results of this process could impact the future of climbing access on other public lands both in our region and throughout the country as other climbing management plans are developed.

We encourage everyone interested in the future of outdoor climbing in the mid-Atlantic region to participate and add your voice to the process.

2 Responses

  1. Raj L Richardson

    Almost entirely indoor climbing so not the right person to ask. But deeply appreciate the effort to plan ahead. The key “what do we want these areas to look like in 20 years”. I tend to support conservative use and would err on the side of moderate use and protecting the climbing routes so that they can be used consistently for 20 years.

  2. Dana

    I think the most important thing to consider here is how to manage the use of this area so that the ecosystem remains healthy and that there is not overuse by climbers. This can be achieved through a combination of educational efforts, waste and facilities management and combined environmental stewardship to protect the nature of the area. This area provides a place where people can gain valuable outdoor leadership skills, challenges themselves physically, and develop connections to the outdoors. Efforts to improve safety and maintain trails while still keeping the nature of the area healthy are very important. This may be achieved by clear designations of different use areas to protect the ecological communities from overuse and direct climber users to appropriate areas. It really is a privilege to climb at Seneca Rocks and engagement with of the stewards of the climbing community and supporting community efforts to maintain the routes and areas that climbers use will be an effective way to protect climbing and natural resources.