Lake Mineral Wells State Park is one of the closest climbing areas to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. The climbing area is a small maze of sandstone conglomerate bluffs named Penitentiary Hollow.
Due to the rock quality the park service restricts the area to top roping and rappelling only and the area is closed when wet. The walls range from 20 to 40 feet and are mostly face climbs with a few tough classics and plenty of easy to moderate routes. Most routes are in the 5.6 - 5.9 range but there are plenty of 10s and 11s too.
Almost all climbs have solid bolt anchors at the top, but bring plenty of long slings because many are 8 to 10 feet or further from the edge. The tops of all climbs can be reached directly off the path from the parking lot or by an easy scramble.
The best time to go is late fall through spring. Texas summers will leave you stewing in your own sweat before you can even set an anchor. Picnicers and spectators usually outnumber climbers 3 to 1, but plenty of large groups come here on the weekends. I've found that most groups show up early and clear out by 3 or 4, so sleep in late.
Currently you need to pay $5 per person to enter the park (free if you have a Texas State Park pass) and $3 per climber. Also, every climber has to sign in.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park and Trailway is located 4 miles east of Mineral Wells on US Highway 180 or 14 miles west of Weatherford on US Highway 180
100 Park Road 71 Mineral Wells TX 76067 940/328-1171
Climb the seam in front of the short slabby boulder at the north end of Right Wall. Vertical with side-pulls, crimpers, and balancy moves. Look for the sweet side-pull with thumb-hook hold high up....[more]Browse More Classics in TX
If you're looking for good sport climbing, you went to the wrong place... The amount of time to setup a top rope on these routes... most decent climbers could have lead and set 2-3 routes. It would be nice if they ever decided to bolt and chain these routes... maybe be able to make a hard line out of something. If you're able to climb 5.11+ you're going to be very bored. Last two trips I took here I ended up free soloing the entire time... at least then you can link some cool bouldering starts but there really isn't anything that didn't seem less than a high ball.
Didn't really have a problem with the toprope in and of itself - you can top out on most routes, then move the slings and rappel back down. You can also usually climb two different routes from one set of anchors.
However, the anchor bolts are so far away from the ledges, and seem to be placed completely at random sometimes. For example, we found a set of bolts at the BOTTOM of the stairs past the overlook. Anyone know why we would need bolts on the floor?
Most routes were pretty easy, just for fun climbs. If you're looking for a challenge, there are very few here. Or, like Tyler mentions, there are plenty of cool places not anchored that can be soloed, especially the bigger boulders further down the trail.