Located in Nottingham, NH, Pawtuckaway State Park is the southernmost of the major climbing destinations in the state. Hundreds of glacial erratic boulders line the forests while the assorted and scattered crags stay mostly out of sight. The three small mountains of Pawtuckaway are the remains of a ring dike formed by an extinct volcano and the rock is a smooth but fully textured granite of a different quality than the climbing elsewhere in this so-called Granite State. While the park is known primarily for its bouldering, which happens to be some of the best in the country, crack climbs of exceptional quality abound on the numerous crags alongside slabs and difficult face climbs. Between boulder problems and routes there are nearly a thousand climbs to be enjoyed, put up over the years by the likes of Dave Graham, Tim Kemple, Rio Rose, Brett Meyers, John Sierois, Dean Potter, Charlie Bentley, and dedicated crews from UNH. In short, there’s plenty here for everyone. Grab a pad or a rack and come hone your skills before you unleash them on the world, or for those of you who aren't local this is a great place to take a road trip to. As with all New Hampshire crags, it is best in Autumn but fun always.
Bouldering: There are nearly two dozen separate bouldering areas within the park of varying quality. At best, the high quality rock offers up ranges of styles and difficulties from V0 to V13. Between cracks, aretes, faces, slopers, crimps, highballs, and lowballs, every style is covered. The bouldering here is unmatched in New Hampshire and the sometimes coarse, sometimes fine grained granite will quickly wear through your skin but you won't want to stop. The most popular spots are Boulder Natural, the Round Pond Boulders, and Blair Woods, although by no means is that the extent of the bouldering. Hidden gems are scattered throughout the park, most of which didn't make it into the guidebook. Check out the New England climbing documentary Uncommon Ground for a little intro to what you will be climbing on in this magical forest of rocks.
Seth having his heel pop.
Trad and Top Roping: The Lower Slabs, Upper Cliff, Devils Den and more offer great trad climbing, although you wouldn't know it on a busy day 'cause all you can see are top ropes. The Upper Cliff and Lower Slabs are very popular for summer camps and family top roping outings, so venture out to one of the other crags if things are taken. A 5-10 minute walk will get you to either the Lower Cliff, the Dome, or the Ridgeline/Small Walls. The trad climbing here is short but sweet, 50 feet on average, though Devil's Den offers longer pitches as well as a few multipitch climbs (and fewer crowds). Crack Master Dean Potter learned much of his crack climbing skill jamming the perfect cracks of P-way and so could you.
Sport Climbing: There are a few bolted sport routes in Devil's Den, the Microwave Area, and at the Yellow Dog Wall with difficulties ranging from 5.6 to 5.13. The age and quality of the bolts are questionable, some are brand new, some are decades old, so be wary.
Getting to the park is easy...Take exit 5 off of Rt 101 in Raymond NH, then follow signs, however, none of the climbing areas are accessed via the State Park entrance.
To reach Blair Woods or the Horse Farm Parking Area, continue on 156 and take a left onto Deerfield Rd. For Blair, turn left at the boat launch sign and continue to the parking lot. For the Horse Farm, continue past the boat ramp and turn left on to Round Pond Road (a short dirt road) to a parking area. If the parking area is full, park on the side of the paved road or risk being towed. From the parking area walk down the dirt road for a little under a mile until you reach round pond. to your left will be round pond bouldering area. To your right is Lake Side Crag and the Hillside Boulders, Walk beyond the hillside to get to upper cliff and lower slabs as well as Boulder Natural etc. There are a few signs to help with getting to the cliffs at this point.
To reach Reservation Rd, from Raymond take Rt 27 to Rt 107. Turn right on to Reservation Rd. Reservation road will turn to dirt. Continue down a curving hill and down more flat road. The most popular areas (boulder natural, round pond, upper cliffs and lower slabs etc.) are accessed by Turning left and driving through an orange gate (Gate #5). Follow the rough road for a few miles bearing left at one point and after a fairly steep often very rough hill look for parking. then hike an obvious trail (on the left) for a few minutes to get to Boulder Natural, continue past to get to all other areas. You may also drive right up to round pond and park there which is nice for Round pond boulders and Lakeside crag area.
Reservation Rd is closed in winter.
The black flies and mosquitoes of Pawtuckaway don't mess around. They are out for blood and they will come after you like you killed their mother (and you may have on another trip.) Bring bug dope, long sleeves, pants, hats, hoods, and a shotgun to fend them off if you come in the spring or early summer. Fall is the time to be here, and by the time the kids are back in school the crowds at the popular crags and the bugs have gone away and the park is yours.
State Park & Camping Information
The State Park has a nice family style campground and even has a few camp sites with boulders on them. (Check out site #4.)
When you look at this striking, thin finger crack that leads up a clean short wall to a very cool hueco-like dish at the top, the question is do you grab a rack or boulder it? As a trad line it is probably a bit short, but as a semi-highball it shines. The landing is flat, the balancy crux comes at mid-height, and the various finger locks are all bomber....[more]Browse More Classics in NH
Ladd thanks for clarifying which months are good...when i was there i suffered the attack of the flies/mosquitoes...anybody have more bouldering pictures? for the amount of problems, there aren't a whole lot of pictures
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Plymouth, NH Feb 15, 2009
Basilisk has scanned an old guidebook for Pawtuckaway. You can download it here.
A bit of a trek through the woods, careful for bottoming out or scraping your car with branches. The area is a bit hidden, but has amazing climbs and feels great in such a secluded area. It feels a bit like a hidden gem in the middle of the woods... Stop at the information building, they'll know somewhat how to get there. May take a few tries and misses before you get on the right track. There should be fliers explaining how to get to the boulders, drive careful!
so i want to come to pawtuckaway in july. i realize it wont be of the same quality as the fall, but will it be miserable? my dad has been to rumney at the same time of year, but it was an unusually cold day which he thought discouraged bugs. thanks, paul
Paul, Pawtuckaway is about half covered by swamp, so the bugs can be intense. July is likely to be hot and humid as well. With bug spray you could probably enjoy yourself, but it's risky with the temps and the bugs.
Also, this conversation should probably be happening in the forums...
By lee hansche Administrator From: goffstown, nh May 28, 2009
Just finished putting together a video of a day at Pawtuckaway featuring classics like Overlooked and Hobbit Hole and also some of the new Trailside stuff ive cleaned in the last year or so... check it out...
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Jun 9, 2009
What are people calling the big area down below the south slope of South Mountain now, the general area where the huge Mowgli boulder is? About 5-6 years ago Ward and Chris Smith, Dave Quinn and I rediscovered the area, cleaned and put up a bunch of problems. I then showed Brett the area and there has since been more development (a highball V10 among others). I haven't been able to get back for a few years, but I thought this area was at least equal if not better than most of the other areas. I'm surprised to see nothing about it here yet.
where is it in relation to a currently well developed area?
By BDalhaus Administrator From: Manchester, NH Jun 9, 2009
The area off the back of South Mountain has been dubbed "Area 51" by those responsible for most of the recent development. Due to a lack of a clear trail and concern amongst park officials about hunters frequenting the area, I haven't wanted to post anything about it. There are probably 100+ problems out there now, but the hike is roughly 40 minutes to get there.
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Jun 10, 2009
Hmm.. I don't remember it taking quite that long to get to it. I used to drive in via Reservation Rd, take a left on Tower Rd and in a few hundred yards park on the rt at the junction with Mountain Tr. (Look for #5 on park map) Walk in here and instead of breaking left like you were going to the tower, stay straight until you are coming down the south slope of S Mountain. Break left off the dirt track and head basically east with S Mountain on your left and a small marsh on your rt. You will first go by more scattered boulders, then the boulders get better, bigger and more clustered.
Unless the park officials really don't want anything published, I think you should go ahead and post. I just made sure I wore orange during hunting season and never had a problem.. I know my friends and I must have put up at least 50 problems and many were super good. With the further development, it must be loaded with classics. The walk is well worth it.
tried finding the area you were talking about but had some difficulty. there were two intersections that i came across. I went riightish/straight at both of them and started to go down a hill, but the road was in rough shape and decided that id rather have a better idea of were the boulders were before i trekked through the river/trail.
was i right in going right/straight at both intersections?
By lee hansche Administrator From: goffstown, nh Jun 29, 2009
jesse, if its the same place im thinking of... i think ive been lost out there too... but i hear good things...
That sounds right. The road has been pretty wet the last few weeks, but if you keep following it you'll come to a swamp that visible on your left. Take a left off the road and bushwhack into the woods before you get to the swamp.
so just before the swamp head left? any other land marks? are the boulders visible from the trail?
i'm really good at getting lost... so any specifics could be life savers haha thanks
By BDalhaus Administrator From: Manchester, NH Jun 30, 2009
Jesse, you were right in going right each time, but if you were looking for a trail, you won't find one. I went out there about 3 weeks ago and whatever herd path there used to be has been destroyed by the ice storm last winter. There is a cairn marking where it starts, but there aren't any boulders visible from the trail because they are probably 15 minutes from the trail. When conditions improve, I can take you out there.
alright thanks bryce. "when conditions improve" that might be next year
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Jul 1, 2009
1 decent boulder just a couple min in from the dirt track, up hill towards the ridge with an overhang, facing you. start on the rt side of the overhang, sitting and traverse left then top out at the crack. some more stuff in the back too. i remember it being a decent place to warm up in the winter as it got the sun and tended to dry out quickly. no idea what we called it
found it today.. the climbing there looks to be pretty good. most of the stuff was along a stream correct? The trail is very faint but on my way back I found it. there also seems to be some slab stuff there too. Some of that stuff looked fun. I only found like 15 or so boulders that were tall enough to be climbed on.. and then it started to rain.
Has anybody climbed at the Magic Pond in the middle of Pawtuckaway Park? if you have and have any information to share please add it to the new Magic Pond area I added to the site. I posted some pictures of the boulders so if you know the names of any of the climbs let us know.
The official rule on dogs at Pawtuckaway is that no dogs are allowed. The only place I've ever heard of anyone catching grief for having a dog in Pawtuckaway is at the Fire Tower (that's the only area I've ever seen a park official at, actually).
Perfect temps for an early morning jaunt on sunday, 55 out and sunny. No one was out when we were there. The bridge took a bruising from the flooding two weeks ago. Broke a hold on something (v3ish) on the right hand side of the welcome boulder (I think). Feels a little harder than before.
Does anyone know where you can stay overnight in March free or for a relatively good price? I'm looking to climb next weekend in Pawtuckaway (March 24-25) and looking for somewhere to crash, either camping or cheap motel, etc. Thanks for any help!
If anyone is aware of who brought the large pole vault mat out to Boulder Natural, please inform them to remove it within the week. This thoughtless action will jeopardize our access to climbing at Pawtuckaway.
Hello all, I was out at trailside boulders last night and I think I lost my phone. its a evo 4g and has a really cracked screen with a white back. it should still work but I think I may have dropped it either by overlooked (during a bathang) or by dome piece...no rush just if someone happens to see it.
I am trying to plan a long weekend to boulder in Pawtuckaway. I recently bought the New England bouldering guidebook to help navigate the area but does anyone have any good beta on where to stay? I have heard that if you stay in the park campground you aren't all that close to the boulders, is this true? Any other recommendations? Closest grocery store? Beverage centers? Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks! jsanford (at) thelagroup (dot) com
Here's a video I shot of some solo sessions after work throughout the month of June. Problems include: 'Burt Gives Blowjobs' (v6), a flash of 'Maxim' (v7), 'Atlas' (v6 ), 'Provia' (v6) and 'Bulletproof' (v6 and extra fun when it's 85 degrees).
Here's a video I made during my last three days in New Hampshire before heading back to my home in Colorado. I spent them enjoying the crisp conditions (in between bouts of rain) at Pawtuckaway, specifically Blair Woods. Problems shown are: 'Fuck The Method' (v6/7), Damn The Man (v7/8), Jeremy's Sick Crimps (v9??), Ball Doctor (v5 ), Pimp Juice (v5) and Pinkerton (v4). Enjoy!
We should really get a video section up here or something.
Pawtuckin: A nice October day of bouldering in Pawtuckaway. Boulder problems featured: Essentials v2, Kalbro v3, E-Z Cheese v2, Up in Smoke v7, and Runaway v4/5 Climbers: Ali Heiden, Eric Heiden, and Steve Briggs
I thought people would be happy to know that the NHDOT has been kind enough to grade the Round Pond Road from the gate to Boulder Natural. They haven't graded the entire road, but they have graded and smoothed out most of the sections that were getting pretty heinous. Nothing has been graded/smoothed beyond Boulder Natural (as of yet at least). Some work has been done on the Fire Tower Road as well.
Needless to say, the road is ten times better than it was. Enjoy it! And if you see any of these guys out there working, thank them!
Here's a little video that some friends and I made this past Summer and Fall.
The Pawtuckaway Project is our attempt to document some of the best climbs at Pawtuckaway, with a focus on less frequently shown/climbed lines that we think are outstanding. Part 1 is a collection of footage shot during Late Summer of 2013.
Problems shown are: 'Yosemite Arete' (v4+), 'Red Devil' (v8), 'Numb Thumb' (v8-), 'Bodacious' (v7), 'Red' (v7), 'Seinfeld' (v2+), 'Lumberjack' (v5/6), 'Chuckie's Torture' (v8), 'Tectonic Plates' (v8), 'Jon's Arete' (v8), 'Italian Stallion' (v7+), 'The Rose' (v7), and 'The Dike Route' (v4/6). We had some space to fill at the end so we added footage of a near send of 'Ashes To Ashes' (v9) from this Fall.
The Pawtuckaway Project is our attempt to document some of the best climbs at Pawtuckaway, with a focus on less frequently shown/climbed lines that we think are outstanding. Part 2 is a collection of footage shot during the Fall of 2013. It includes three possible/probable first ascents.
Problems shown are: 'Universal Socket' (v6+), 'Red Right Hand' (v6), 'The Hug' (v6), 'Rubber Cement' (v8), 'Check Your Method' (v8), 'Dopeman Right' (v8), 'Lost At Sea' (v3), 'Feeling For The Heavens' (v4-), 'Individual Medley' (v6+) and 'Oblivious To Danger' (v5-).
We chose to speed up the footage of the last three problems. Because of the thoughtful and deliberate style of climbing that these particular lines require, we felt the footage would have been really slow and boring otherwise!
We hope you enjoy the video!
By M Sprague Administrator From: New England Nov 17, 2013
Well done film! Thanks for posting it. It must have been fun making it.
New England Bouldering can be picked up at EMS (or online) and covers a good amount of bouldering in the park. For rope routes, Rock Climbing New England lists some. There's a scan of 'A climber's guide to Pawtuckaway State Park and Southeastern New Hampshire' by Todd Swain kicking around on the internet somewhere (maybe our forums still). Also there's an old scan of Dave and Marie Saball & Paul Boissonneault's '1995's Comprehensive Guide to Pawtuckaway Rock Climbs' that lists even more rope routes. There's also the underground guide ...
Mountain Project is your best free resource and is relatively complete.
I lost my hat at the lower slabs today, it's Yellow with a Central Maine logo on the front, and a pine tree. It's at the base of Clingon. It has a lot of sentimental value, if you see it I'd love to get it back.