Asheville, Climbing Areas

Asheville Rock Climbing + Bouldering Guide

climbing-2Looking for the best Asheville rock climbing adventures? The WNC Adventure Guide’s Best Rock Climbing + Bouldering Guide features some of our favorite climbing and bouldering areas in and around Asheville, NC and is presented by Climbmax Climbing Mountain Guides and the Smoky Mountain Adventure Center.

Our guide to the best Asheville rock climbing areas and Asheville bouldering spots will help get you out and on the trail exploring some of the absolute best rock climbing areas the Asheville area has to offer. Whether you’re looking for overhanging sport routes near Asheville or searching for some fun and exposed trad climbs deep in Pisgah National Forest or just looking to get in a fun bouldering session at one of the area’s great bouldering spots, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll try to give you all the beta you need to get to where you want to go, but keep in mind that a trusted guidebook and real world rock climbing experience go a long way. There’s no better way to learn the ropes than with an experienced climbing guide. We recommend the folks at Climbmax Mountain Guides for guided outdoor rock climbing adventures in Asheville. If you’re looking for a great workout and a fun time, stop into either Climbmax Climbing Gym in downtown Asheville or head over to the new Smoky Mountain Adventure Center to take advantage of some great, high-quality indoor routes and boulder problems in a fun and welcoming climbing gym environment.


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Local Climbing Expert: Climbmax Mountain Guides

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Climbing At Rumbling Bald (Chimney Rock): Splitter cracks, well-protected climbs and more than 1000 boulder problems make Rumbling Bald one of the most popular climbing areas in North Carolina. The climbing area, which is part of the Hickory Nut Gorge State Park, is home to classic crack climbs like Shredded Wheat and Frosted Flakes at the Cereal Buttress, as well as the difficult Hanging Chain (5.12b). Popular boulder problems include Shady Grove (v2), Rotator Cuff (v4) and Leprechaun Roof (v4+). For roped climbing, we recommend picking up a copy of the newly released guide to Rumbling Bald and find the bouldering guidebook useful in navigating the many areas. In 2008, the state parks system acquired a tract of land for Chimney Rock State Park that assures public access to this climbing wonderland.

Directions from Asheville: Take 1-26 E to Exit 36. Take a left onto NC 108 towards Columbus/Chimney Rock/Lake Lure and continue 4 miles. Take left onto NC 9 and continue 10 miles. You will see Lake Lure in front of you. Turn left onto Hwy 64/74/9 and go 4 miles. After the beach and marina on your right, take a right onto Boys Camp Rd. Continue 1.5 miles to the top of a ridge, and look for a newly graveled (likely unmarked) road on your left. Parking is just down this road.

Stony Bald Boulders (Blue Ridge Parkway): The Stony Bald Boulders are on the south face of Stony Bald, NC at over 4000′ and up the hill from the Shut-in Ridge trail. The area was developed about five years ago, but still has opportunities for further development. Generally, the area features overhanging rock with There is a range of boulder sizes and difficulty, overhangs, large wall, tall and short. The rock is sometimes loose and uncleaned by lack of frequent use. The area is full of wildlife so exercise caution and respect.

Directions from Asheville: Head south to the Blue Ridge Parkway and travel south to around MilePost 402 on the Parkway. Park on the corner of 151 and the Blue Ridge Parkway cross the parkway and turn left onto the Mountain to Sea Trail and follow the MST blazes, a white circle, and walk along the trail about a half mile. The boulders will be on your left. There are two sets of obvious boulders along the trail. The best climbs are found in your second set of boulders. Hiking around the boulders is difficult because it is steep and there is a lot of undergrowth.

 Climbmax Climbing (Downtown Asheville): Climbmax Climbing in downtown Asheville is one of the area’s oldest and most popular climbing gyms. As the region’s premiere center for rock climbing programs and outdoor adventure, Climbmax is a great destination.  Whether choosing to climb indoors on one of our many varied and challenging climbing structures or take a guided adventure outdoors on the real rock, Climbmax Climbing has something for everyone.  Climbmax Climbing Gym is a family friendly facility and provides services and adventure opportunties for everyone, from the most basic climbing to the most challenging terrain.

Directions from Asheville: Head downtown to parking in the Wall Street Parking Garage for the easiest and least expensive parking option for your visit to ClimbMax. Climbmax is located at 43 Wall Street, Asheville, NC.


The Chimneys (Linville Gorge): The short approach hike to the Chimneys atop the Linville Gorge is worth it for the views alone. Throw in some top rope climbing and bouldering on the rocky outcroppings and you have a great combination. While it’s around a 1.5 hour drive from Asheville, it’s definitely one of the best “Asheville rock climbing” crags thanks to the stunning beauty the Linville Gorge provides and is certainly worth the trip. We believe the area has one of the most beautiful vistas in North Carolina, amidst one of the most remote areas in the Blue Ridge. The steep climbs are a great area to set up top ropes, with slightly overhanging big pockets to climb. The ascents are full of cracks and features and with the ‘Grand Canyon of the East’ as your backdrop, the view over your shoulder is breathtaking. More experienced climbers will enjoy venturing into the nearby Amphitheater to attempt the Mummy, the Daddy and the Prow in a day – a trio of 500-foot traditional routes that is renown as a great test-piece for up-and-coming trad climbers.

Directions from Asheville: Take I-40 E 50 miles to Exit 103 (Morganton). Turn left onto US 64 N, go 2 miles to left onto NC 181. Follow 30 minutes, past the town of Table Rock, deep into the National Forest. Turn left at the Table Rock Picnic Area (Rose Mtn. Rd.) and follow 13 miles to the access point.

Smoky Mountain Adventure Center AshevilleSmoky Mountain Adventure Center (Asheville): Asheville’s newest climbing gym features a 34-foot high rock climbing wall that is the first permanent climbing wall in the up and coming River Arts District in Asheville and is the only lead climbing wall in Asheville. The new adventure center also features outdoor gear rental businesses and is home to Earthsports Design, an Asheville-based backpack manufacturer. It also is home to The Hangout, a cafe with locally made offerings, a Yoga studio space and event space. Future plans include an outdoor climbing wall, an elevated adventure course with a ropes course and zip line element, and a few outbuildings that will rent outdoor recreation gear in partnership with local businesses.

Directions from Asheville: Smoky Mountain Adventure Center is located at 173 Amboy Road between the French Broad River Park and Karen Cragnolin and Carrier parks.

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 Looking Glass Rock (Pisgah National Forest): Perhaps the quintessential southeastern US climbing spot, Looking Glass Rock features enough routes to occupy many a full day of adventure. Steeped in history and set in the most beautiful part of the Pisgah NF, the massive, white granite dome includes climbs of all varieties and grades, providing challenges for first-time novices and experienced veterans alike.

Directions from Asheville: Take I-26 E to Exit 40. Turn right on NC 280 towards Brevard for 16 miles to Hwy 276. Turn right on Hwy 276 N into the Pisgah NF. Go 5.3 miles to left at the State Fish Hatchery sign. Continue straight on the gravel road to the fork, then bear right 1.2 miles. The first parking area is for the South Face, the second for the Nose Area, and the third for the North Face.

North Side Boulders (Pisgah National Forest): Tucked away beneath the 500-foot-tall North Face of Looking Glass Rock are a handful of classic boulder problems well worth a visit. Thanks to the blocky granite of Looking Glass, the boulders have a unique style unlike most other areas in WNC. Other nearby areas include the Nowhere Boulders and Garden of the Gods.

Directions from Pisgah Forest: Follow directions to Looking Glass above and park at the North Face parking area. The boulders are located 1/4 mile before the base of the cliff on both sides of the trail.

Ice Climbing (Various Areas): When conditions are right, aspiring ice climbers will find some of the lower 48’s best ice in western NC. From top-roping short pitches to multi-pitch adventures, Whitesides Mountain offers a full, world-class package. For smaller climbs, head out along the Blue Ridge Parkway or check out the Sam Knob region of the Pisgah NF along Hwy 215 for icy waterfalls.

Directions from Asheville: (To Whitesides) Take I-26 S to exit 40. Follow NC 280 to Hwy 276/64. Continue 35 miles, then stay on Hwy 64 after Lake Toxaway. Continue 13 miles to Cashiers. Continue 4.6 miles on Hwy 64 to left at the sign for Whitesides Mountain Rd. Take this road to the parking area.

Cedar Rock (Pisgah National Forest): With a vast difficulty range that accommodates all skill levels and over two dozen varied climbs, Cedar Rock is a popular yet typically uncrowded climbing spot. The dome’s main wall features classic climbs like Cedar Pie and Toads R Us, requiring delicate face climbing, but numerous smaller climbs abound in the vicinity. At about 1,000 feet higher in elevation than Looking Glass Rock, air temperatures are typically cooler, and the views are stunning.

Directions from Asheville:  Take I-26 E to Exit 40. Turn right on NC 280 towards Brevard for 16 miles to Hwy 276. Turn right on Hwy 276 N into the Pisgah NF. Go 5.3 miles to left at the State Fish Hatchery sign. Continue straight on the gravel road past the road to Looking Glass Rock parking area for about three miles. Turn left onto Gloucester Gap Road and head 2.2 miles to the parking area on your left.

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Local Climbing Expert: Climbmax Mountain Guides

 828-252-9996 /

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