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. Submitted By: matthewWallace on Oct 27, 2010
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, turn left at the maroon house up 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.
To reach Reservation Rd, from Raymond take Rt 27 to Rt 107 and turn right. Reservation Rd will be on the right and allows easy access to nearly all areas outside of Blair Woods. 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.)
Stand start the left angling arete. Reach high with the right hand and get a high right foot. Lay back the arete to the left, the crux is getting up over your feet in the first few moves. With the right beta it really is V2 (get your left foot in the high scoop.)...[more]Browse More Classics in NH
We were climbing yesterday at the trail side boulders area and the dog we were with went missing. The dogs name is Shikoa and is an Alaskan Husky Mix. He is super skittish and nervous of people(not dangerous at all, will just run off if he sees you), so calling his name probably wont have any affect unless you are the owner(who you might see out there today) but it would be really nice to know if anyone has seen him and the area last seen, so the owner can go looking around there.
please let me know if you see him. he's mostly cream colored with a bit of orange. see the photo below.
I have a bit of a drive to get to Pawtuckaway and was wondering, for those of you who have been there recently, what the climbing conditions are right now (april, 2013)? Mainly is there snow and how wet are the rocks? Thanks for the help, -Eric
By lee hansche Administrator From: goffstown, nh Apr 4, 2013 CONDITION REPORT
Eric- and anyone else wanting to know... boulders today were very dry and in perfect conditions... snow lingered in spots but wasn't an issue... looked like the cliffs were ready for climbing too... still hiking in from the horse farm for now however... have fun...
By Ladd Raine Administrator From: Plymouth, NH Apr 12, 2007
This area is awesome from August-Mid May however the late spring/summer bring killer black flies that make climbing miserable
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 myself 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. Im 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.
I was wondering how well Pway dries out after rain, was thinking of heading down there on fri but it is supposed to rain thurs what is the chance of finding dry rock for bouldering?
By lee hansche Administrator From: goffstown, nh Dec 1, 2009
well matt, most of the boulders are in the woods in the shade so the majority can take a while to dry out but the trailside boulders tend to dry out more quickly and be the place to climb when its cold due to its southern exposure...
PS climb Mr. Lovett V2+ at trailside (super fun rarely gets done)...
Lee do you think it would be worth the drive from Plymouth? I was planning on going to trail side to do overlooked, Mrs. Lovett, and the other stuff there, maybe some stuff at round pond? I will certain get on Mrs. Lovett with that suggestion...
By lee hansche Administrator From: goffstown, nh Dec 1, 2009
personally id drive that far just to do overlooked, nevermind all the other opportunities there ... if the weather looks good go for it...
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