Pickens Nose Rock Climbing
Pickens Nose is located at the southern end of the Nantahala Mountains within the Nantahala National Forest near the border of North Carolina and Georgia and the town of Otto, NC. It is most easily accessed off US 441 but can also be accessed from the Standing Indian campground.
The climbing history at Pickens Nose may be relatively long, but based on the amount of information available about said climbing it is likely not very storied. It has some easy top rope climbs, some hard sport climbs, and what looks like some bold trad climbs. I wouldn't classify this as a destination but it can be a fun place to try out with an easy short approach and cooler temperatures in the summer. Most routes are single pitch, but there may be a multi pitch option out there somewhere.
There are four main areas of climbing here; Cameron's Wall, the "Top Rope" Wall, the Nose and Rockhouse Knob. The first three are near the end of the approach trail at the crest of the road. If you keep walking until the trail ends you will be on top of Pickens Nose proper. Turn around and walk back a little if you intended to find the other walls or access the bottom of the Nose. Directions to each area are on the area pages.
There is also a fairly large boulder on the left about 2/3 of the way down the approach trail. It's currently covered in plant growth but could have a few decent problems on it if someone was inspired to clean it up.
The approach to Rockhouse Knob starts at a different trailhead but is close enough to Pickens (essentially down the hill) that it's included here. Directions to that wall are on it's area page
From US 441: Look for the forest service sign for the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory on the west side of the road approximately one mile south of Otto, NC. Turn onto Coweeta Lab Road and follow it about 3 miles coming to a forest service sign for Ball Creek Road - FS 83 (left at the branch). If you wind up on FS-751 you took the wrong branch. Climb for 5 miles on unpaved FS-83 to reach the trailhead. The road forks once on the way up, be sure to stay on FS-83 by bearing to the right and uphill until the roads flattens out.
From NC 64: Take the Wallace Gap Road toward the Standing Indian Campground. Pass the campground on Forest Service Road 67, passing first the campground entrance (where the road changes from hardtop to gravel) and beyond the Backcountry Information Center (a glorified bulletin board). Drive on this well maintained gravel road for about six miles until you come to a fork with a sign indicating "Albert Mountain" on the left and "Coweeta" on the right. 67 is on the left and the right turn is Forest Service Road 83. Drive until you see a gate. If the gate is closed, park there and continue on foot for about fifty feet to the Pickens Nose Trail which will be on your right.
Both sides of the road access can be closed in the winter time so plan accordingly
Look for the brown Pickens Nose trail sign and the parking area that can accommodate several cars. The trail is about 0.7 mi and is only slightly uphill so it makes for an easy approach. The east side of the trail is on Coweeta Lab property and the west side of the trail is on National Forest property. Depending on the time of year you go, you may find hunters around running dogs with radio collars.
Camping is allowed on National Forest land (i.e. the west side of the trail). There is an established car camping spot adjacent to the parking lot and there is an established back country site about half way down the approach trail on the west side. There is no water source here, so bring your water.
Climbing Season For the All Locations area.
Weather station 3.3 miles from here
15 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',6],['2 Stars',6],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Pickens Nose
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Pickens Nose
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Pickens Nose:
Featured Route For Pickens Nose
If the House is Rockin'... 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a NC
: Pickens Nose
: Rock House Knob
This is the line up the tallest part of the main wall. It starts on the left side beneath a bolt about 15' up, and a crack above (and in front of a TV-size boulder). The technical crux is at the bolt, but the redpoint crux is hanging on through the pump.Two variations:1. If the wall above is dry, climb to the sloping ledge about 50' up (gear and one bolt) and move right. Continue up the left diagonaling line of bolts to the top. This is the classic way to ...[more] Browse More Classics in NC
A nice 12a/b on Rock House Knob near Pickens Nose....
BETA PHOTO: Pickens Nose map
BETA PHOTO: Pickens Nose trail sign
BETA PHOTO: Coweeta Lab sign off US-441
With the extra steep extension.
By Mark O'Neal
From: Nicholson, GA
Jun 30, 2016
As of June 2016 : The bridge at the beginning of FS-83 is out and they have a detour around it. The detour is signed.
Take the right branch where FS-83 is closed. Go a short ways up the road and you will see a detour sign pointing left into what looks like a maintenance area. Follow the detour sign left and just stay on the side road. It will pass through several Cowetta Lab buildings and parking areas, eventually putting you back on FS-83 on the other side of where the bridge is out
From: western NC
Jan 19, 2014
Does anyone know if this place in accessible right now? I've heard something about the road being gated at times; is that for the winter? And if so, where exactly is the gate? Thanks for any info.
By Mark O'Neal
From: Nicholson, GA
Feb 8, 2014
The access roads from both sides (FS-67 and FS-83) are usually closed from Jan 1st until April 1st according to the forest service website. This link changes every year, so Google Nantahala Ranger District Seasonal Road Closures. I don't know for sure where the gates are.
From: western NC
Apr 1, 2014
Thanks Mark for the link. The FS tends to not do very well with updating their info around here -- which was the main reason I was wondering. Thanks again.