All of the top-rope and most lower-off anchor areas are accessible from Upper Ledge Springs Trail. Trying to walk the rim while hollering to people below is a common method, enjoyed by many "trad" climbers. So many other visitors walk the rim as to have made many wandering "pig trails" through the sparse woods. However, if you want to get on with top-rope climbing and comply with Park conservation goals, you might want to know where to go and how to get there. |
At the climber sign-in station the display board includes an area map which is also in the pocket guide and follows those area names, which this guide does not. The letters are in reverse order from routes in the pocket guide and Kelley's book. For a few upper areas, those letters are posted along the Trail for Park purposes, not yours, and this guide ignores them. In sight of the permit station is a gate at an offset of the three-rail fence, with a red-lettered sign in both American languages. Going through that gate, you will come to a large slab boulder. To get to the Parking Lot area anchors, go around this boulder to your left, and follow the footpath to the sculpturely wind-shaped pine tree at the rim.
The next offset opening in the fence will lead to a fence blocking access to a major gully and previously common climber cut-off especially to the Parking Lot area back uphill on Lower Ledge Springs Trail. All entry to that gully has been closed, so we should not violate park rules. Besides, it isn't all that easy with a gear pack, or if wet.
The third gap will lead directly to what is only an overlook area. Head to the right of there to find a triangular platform. That is the top of Big Arete, with two active routes topping there. Many people visit that vista point for reasons including meditation and reading poetry and the usual snapshots of themselves blocking the scenery, besides smoking and tossing more or less empty containers into space.
At the end of the fence you can take a left, or angle downhill along a path and wash. To the left is the Golden Wall area, marked by a single boulder looking like a large layered pile. Getting down to the top anchors is a risky scramble on slippery pine needles. If from the end of the fence you angle downhill along a wash and path, there will be a fallen tree at the rim for the Tall Gray Wall area, with 'Black Rain' directly below. The anchors for 'Husband/Start the Car' are best reached from that tree and down to the right. That short straight path forks right to the rings for Amphitheater Right.
Continuing down the Trail, there is a set of twenty-five timber steps. At the twelfth one there is a labelled path to your left. Coming uphill, look for a horizontal tree suspended in branches. Going to that either way will take you to the rim and lower-off anchors for the Amphitheater areas. Trying to top-rope from any of those is hazardous, and will give a swing to a great distance from the wall after a fall; but people still try to avoid leading the sport routes there.
Next downhill with many timber steps that zig-zag will be a minor-looking trail to the Annex area. At the end of the zig-zags with a set of four timber steps will be a bare scruffy area. To the left is a path that will show an overlook where rappelling is done. The one at an angle leads to the rim for the School Room area wall with its three sets of anchors.
At the sign for Three Bears Gully, do go left but do not go down the steep stone steps if you want to find the anchors for the Dudes area. There is a footpath along that rim to the only two sets of anchors for that uphill section. To get to the Three Bears anchors, many do clamber over the boulders to continue along the rim; but the Trail is easier and takes no more time. Passing beyond the large slab boulder, at the last timber step you will see a path to the left. To its left is a drop gully to the Bears anchors; straight and down some will be a boulder for the 'Goldilocks' anchors.
A short distance farther down the Trail will be a stump and two old logs. Beside them is something of a path to a boulder that overlooks the rim at the Copper Top wall, with all natural anchors. To get down to the anchor area, you should carefully work around to the right. If you next watch through the trees, there will be another path to one large leaning tree that has fallen across the bare top for the End Zone tower with two sets of face rings. The top for 'I Gotta Wear Shades' is to rim-right; or you can go directly to 'Shades' from the main Trail. If you know you want Cowboy Gully cut-off to the cliff base, that path has a particular stob to mark it. The trees used as "natural anchors" for that particular climb are to the left and the actual gully is to the right.
At about 200 yards down past the Bears boulder, you will see Cave Boulder up to the right, and Trailside Boulder just down the Trail. If you missed the path to Cowboy Gully, there is another path just uphill from Trailside Boulder that will angle back and down to connect. From there, it is about 120 yards to the long Trail switch-back reversing to your left. From the bottom of that, count ten long steps to see boulders retaining the present Trail with the old Trail down to the left. Past the hollow stump is a faint path that will lead straight down to the rim for the Beach area starting from the upper part at 'Spindrift'. The old Trail of rock steps will go past another path that would take you to the lower Beach area and Pool Hall Gully and that last climbing area. You can miss that path, unless you watch for a large boulder down to the left of the old Trail, and go left there. Hiker paths continue, but do not lead to climbing access: if you feel lost, you may be.
Unless you came to hike, that is as far as you will hike down Ledge Springs Trail. At the low point for this first part, Grindstone Trail will connect from the right. From there, it is about 700 vertical feet back up to the car parking lot. Taking the sharp left turn to stay on Lower Ledge Springs Trail, note that the Trail will continue to slope down. After a while, there will be Mountain Trail joining from below to the right, then the little stone-bordered trickle that is Ledge Spring, from which all dogs hope to drink (and some hikers too, with no ill effects). The Pool Hall climbing area is a short ways uphill with the first set of stone steps.
The classic Kelley Guide started listing climbing routes from the Pool Hall area going uphill, as does the pocket booklet. The new map at the sign-in kiosk (download 2.1Mb pdf) has letters for areas starting there and going downhill (lower case on the map, upper case posted at some upper areas). This website uses the Three Bears Gully cut-off as the basis for listing Climbing Areas with area names intended to be helpful. The various possible Bouldering locations are listed going downhill on either Upper or Lower Ledge Springs Trail.
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Copyrights by and Comments to:
Lloyd Ramsey, Climb Pilot NC USA
4948 Old Baux Mtn. Rd., Winston-Salem NC 27105-1504