Park at River Gap Rd, Franklin, WV (GPS: 38.66551,-79.32474)
Main attraction: Great collection of sport climbing routes
Activities: Rock climbing
Approach hike length: Up to 1.5 miles out and back
Best time to visit: Spring & Fall sunny days
Map and Directions
Last weekend we visited Franklin Gorge in West Virginia to climb in its fabulous limestone wall, with about 80 sport climbing routes. The South Fork of the Potomac river runs through this small gorge, a great spot to cool down after a day of climbing.
On saturday morning we packed our tent, climbing gear, food and water, and drove 3.5 hours from Washington DC to Franklin Gorge. On Saturday morning we packed our tent and climbing gear and drove to Franklin Gorge. The road became scenic once we crossed the West Virginia border, with many forested mountains and fresh breeze.
We climbed some of the best moderate routes: Blood, Sweat and Chalk (5.9+, 70'), Shipwrecked (5.9, 75'), Aloha (5.9, 60'), Aqualung (5.10a, 60') and Jump Start (5.8+, 30'). We climbed some routes by the parking lot too, but they were not worth it. For detailed information about the routes, check out the book “Rock Climbing in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland”, from Eric Horst and Stewart M. Green.
About the climbing gear, all we needed was a 60m rope and 10 quickdraws (apart from the belay device, harnesses, climbing shoes and chalk).
Usually there are some climbers around, mostly from Washington DC and Harrisonburg areas. This is not a climbing destination per se, but it's a great spot for moderate sport climbing.
Cool down in the river
Before it started to get dark, we went to the river to swim and cool down. It feels very nice after the workout. The stream was not very strong so we could do it easily.
After swimming we looked for a camping spot and found one close to the Potomac River (South Branch), protected by trees and shade. We cooked pasta for dinner and went to sleep early.
Sunday morning we woke up in the nature surrounded by all those green colors, had breakfast and packed everything for another day of climbing.
We finished our trip with a last bath in the river and talking about the cool experience on our way back to the city.
What we did last weekend? We had fun in nature!
This trip is featured on the book 20 Weekend Trips Close to Washington DC.