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Franklin Gorge

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About Franklin Gorge:

Located just east of the town of Franklin, WV, Franklin Gorge is unique among America's sport climbing areas, in that, while it is privately owned, there are no fees for climbing or camping.

First discovered and developed by John Burcham and friends during the early to mid 90s, Franklin has traditionally been the first place many Mid-Atlantic climbers cut their teeth on bolted routes before going on to challenge more renowned areas like the New River Gorge.

This crag is located on a group of private properties and should be treated very gently. Access is open at the moment, but impact has increased exponentially over the years, most of it being climbers and their pets, many of whom have not been the best ambassadors of our community. Because of this, local party activities and vandalism, as well as the publication of unauthorized (usually incomplete and inaccurate) topos and guidebooks (including but not limited to the m. greeby/mindspring maps, Tim Toula's "Rock and Road' and the esteemed Mr. E. Horst's "WV, VA, and MD Guide"), there has been recent discussion among the landowners and local law enforcement of closing the entire crag/access road to the public.

Do NOT block the signed gate to the left of the Parking Lot wall unless you'd like your vehicle jerked out of the way by a logging truck and then towed to Petersburg or Moorefield.

Please leave your dog at home (since this is not the National Forest and you do NOT have any "right" to bring your pets onto someone else's property). Try to minimize group sizes, stay on the trail, tread lightly regardless of your numbers, and be polite to every local person that you meet at Franklin... they could be the landowners or their families..

Nearest town or city: Franklin
Directions: From Harrisonburg, VA the distance is about 41 miles, driving time is just over an hour.

To reach Franklin: Drive west on Rte 33, through Rawley Springs, into the National Forest and over Shenandoah Mountain, with great views all along the way (about 15 miles to the top of Shenandoah Mtn from Harrisonburg).

Stay on Rte 33 through the small town of Brandywine, making a right turn before passing over a bridge on the way out of town. Watch for deer along this stretch of road near sunset.

Pass through Oak Flats to climb over the next mountain and descend into Franklin, past a welding shop and State Police Headquarters. The Roadside Crag lies along this stretch of road, as well, directly across from Delta Road 31.

2.8 miles after the State Police HQ, slow down as you approach the obvious bridge over the South Fork of the Potomac River, with Kemper's Store on your right. Please patronize this local business, whose owners have always been welcoming to climbers of all types.

Between Kemper's entrance and the bridge is 5|11 River Gap Road (dirt). Turn right. Maximum speed on this road should be about 10 mph- it is narrow and rough, and large 4x4s can appear from the opposite direction.

Follow dirt road to obvious parking, exactly one half mile in. Park in consideration of other parties and traffic. Please do not block the gate going up the mountain, or your car may be towed.

To reach the new trail, new bouldering, and upper walls: Hike up the log/stone steps leading to the "Parking Lot Wall" (Obvious, about 10' right of a huge, bullet-riddled hemlock trunk). Head right from here along the new (and still improving) trail. For the River's Bend crags, park as you would for anything else, then hike downstream to where the road ends and continue along the riverbank for another 2/10s of a mile. Coming from Seneca, the Franklin Gorge turn off is one mile east of the town of Franklin on Route 33. Camping is available at Thorn Springs campground, although no pets are allowed. ( Call (304) 358-7737.

Latitude, Longitude:
Access Issues: Privately owned by numerous locals.
Camping: Yes
When to Climb:
Quantity of Climbs: Month

Topo Images

No route specified No route specified No route specified

Forum Discussions (See all 43 posts )

  Subject Author Replies Last Post
No Replies Treasure Mountain Festival, Franklin, WV roninthorne 0 Sep 16 2013, 9:08 AM
No Replies Forgot shoes near creek mlovely1979 0 Aug 21 2013, 10:12 AM
With Replies Dog critical injury or death on 4/14/13 saucerer 2 Sep 16 2013, 12:10 PM
No Replies road closure / bridge work david_n_raines 0 Aug 04 2012, 12:55 PM
No Replies Left La Sportiva Miura VS imtryinjt 0 Jun 01 2012, 11:45 AM
With Replies Left Evolv Talons apc3n 1 Oct 24 2011, 8:09 AM
With Replies Wet weather climbing in Franklin? Dip 2 Apr 12 2011, 7:13 AM
With Replies DANGER: Anchors Away jackwill 11 Oct 27 2010, 8:44 AM
With Replies camping wolfpackman409ataoldotcom 6 Oct 07 2010, 8:01 AM
No Replies Franklin Rocks skandl 0 Aug 15 2010, 8:19 AM
With Replies Callin' Bullsh*t on Franklin's current crop roninthorne 5 Jul 14 2010, 8:01 AM
No Replies Conditions report: Broken glass, loose rock, and damage to trail below "Raised by Sasquatch" roninthorne 0 Apr 15 2010, 7:34 AM
With Replies top-rope? climbercat 1 Mar 05 2010, 9:01 AM
No Replies Winter conditions at Franklin- ICY and Dangerous! roninthorne 0 Jan 22 2010, 11:59 AM
With Replies Which routes are still "closed"? CrazyPetie 2 Nov 09 2009, 7:26 AM