If you're looking for a pleasant spot to bring friends new to climbing, Alabama's Palisades Park is a great choice.
Located not far from Birmingham, Palisades is a state park with a nice little cliffline running just below its parking lot. There's a good range of climbing difficulty, ranging from easy 5.4 up to roofy 5.12. Because everything can be easily toproped, it's a perfect place for a beginner's first outdoor climbing experience. And if you're just getting started on trad, Palisades is an excellent training ground; routes like Buckets (5.5) offer easy leading and plentiful protection. Be aware, though, that the grades tend to be sandbagged; Elephant Crack (5.6) and Box Lunch (5.7) are not for the novice leader. There's no sport climbing at Palisades; no bolting is allowed.
All climbers must register at the park office and buy a $2 climbing permit (this is good for two weeks). From the parking lot, head for the cliff top near a picnic pavillion and scramble down a fourth-class gully/chimney to the base of the cliff.
The Dixie Cragger's Atlas is a good resource for routes at Palisades.
From Birmingham, take SR 75 north to Oneonta. Take a left on US 231 (north); about a mile or two outside of Oneonta, watch for signs pointing to Palisades Park and follow county roads to the park entrance.
From Atlanta, take I-20 west to the US 231 exit. Follow 231 north through Oneonta, then follow directions above to the park.
At 5.6 in the guide, Elephant Crack is probably the most sandbagged route at Palisades. The gear placements on the face are small and not easy to find, and the roof traverse is strenuous with good potential for an unpleasant pendulum fall. This is an excellent route, but not a good choice for novice leaders.Starting on a slightly slabby face, climb to a corner under the roof. Underclinging the roof, traverse right about 25' to an outside corner and escape up the rain gully to the top....[more]Browse More Classics in AL
Pallisades Park is a well kept and beutifull park that is nice to take your family for a picnic and some nice liad back climbing. The only critter you need worry about is the ever present cane break rattler. They really like laying agianst the cliff line on a hot summer day and they're about three feet long and fat, and mean when provoked. We've been going there for years and have only saw a couple. Though, this is still a great, really pretty place and check out the chain saw carvings, really cool!!
One of the few places that seems to offer tolerable climbing "out of season" (aka deep summer) in AL. The cliffline gives shade from morning through early afternoon and there's plentiful access to water from the top of the cliff.
As a heads up, the park office doesn't open until 9am to sell permits -- though we did manage to find an employee who doesn't normally work the office who was willing to open it up for us before the ranger got there. We were only charged $2, but that may reflect inexperience on behalf of the employee who checked us in.
Some, if not all anchors are accessible from the top. Still, it's wise to bring a few long pieces of rope or webbing (two 50 footers would be plenty) in case you want to get on a route that has not been updated.