The entrance to Penitentiary Hollow from the parki...
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
The face looks sheer and vertical, but offers plenty of pockets and crimpers on closer inspection. Top out and climb through the safety railing to the applause of all the tourists at the top of the overlook....[more]Browse More Classics in TX