Smoke Hole Canyon and Reed’s Creek [rock(sport,trad)]


Introduction

Smoke Hole Canyon can be found in Pendleton County WV, near Upper Tract.  Just 10 miles North of Franklin, WV, the crags in and around the canyon are only 3 hours from Washington D.C. and boast 150+ (and counting) trad and sport climbs of varying grades and heights.  Drive as if you’re going to Seneca Rocks (66 W to 81 S, take exit 294 to follow 55 W through Moorefield and to Petersburg) but once in Petersburg turn left (instead of right) to follow 220 South for 17 miles.  Cross the South Branch of the Potomac river and make a choice.  Turn right onto Smoke Hole road, follow the river for 9 miles to reach Long Branch and The Guide Walls.  Alternatively, continue South on 220 for another 2 miles, through Upper Tract, and park in the obvious commuter lot where Reed’s Creek road intersects 220.  The rock is the same limestone found at Franklin Gorge, with climbs established by many familiar names, dating back to the ‘90s, at least.

 

Access

The Guide Walls, Long Branch, and Reed’s Creek are on public land, part of the Monongahela National forest.  The tops of the cliffs, however, are private land and not easily accessed, making these areas not ideal for non lead climbing groups.  Stay on the trails, practice leave-no-trace ethics, and park sensibly/courteously.

 

Guidebooks

Local climber, developer, and crag steward Mike Gray self-published “A Climber’s Guide to Smoke Hole Canyon, WV” in 2014.  The first and second printings are entirely sold out, good luck finding one to buy or borrow.  But don’t worry, Mike released a digital guidebook, through rakkup, for Reed’s Creek (http://rakkup.com/guidebooks/smoke-hole-canyon-reeds-creek-rock-climbing/) and a joint rakkup guidebook for Long Branch and The Guide Walls (http://rakkup.com/guidebooks/smoke-hole-canyon-long-branch-and-guide-walls-rock-climbing/).  The rakkup app for iPhone and android is free, and the guides are $2.99 each through the website.  Mike also maintains the Smoke Hole Canyon Facebook page and has collected a useful list of local amenities http://roninsroad.blogspot.com/p/smoke-h.html.

 

Camping

Thorn Spring Park in Franklin, WV is relatively close, with $5/person tent camping (nice bath house and running water) and $13/person bunkhouses (private bathrooms, stoves, and fridge), prices may change.  The camp host sells ice ($3/bag) and fire wood ($10/wheel barrow road).

Big Bend Campground is a few miles further down river from Long Branch and The Guide Walls with group sites available at the Jess Judy Campground.

Various rental cabins can also be found near Smoke Hole.
Smoke Hole Canyon is also close enough to Seneca Rocks that many of the same camping situations will work for either.

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