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Rose Ledge is located on Northfield Mountain. Northfield Mountain is owned and operated by FirstLight Power Resources, formerly Northeast Utilities, which is a local utility. FirstLight has a hydroelectric pump-storage reservoir at the top of Northfield Mountain, and you'll see related electrical infrastructure - overhead powerlines, an electrical substation, near FirstLight's Northfield Mountain Visitor Center, etc.- on your approach to Rose Ledge. FirstLight hosts summer outdoor programs and a winter cross-country ski area on the mountain and Northfield Mountain's trails are popular with hikers and mountain bikers. A number of schools, colleges, and universities in the area teach introductory rock climbing at Rose Ledge, and climbers regularly visit Rose from at least as far away as Boston.
The rock at Rose Ledge is horizontally stratified gneiss. The rock is pretty solid, and Rose Ledge is home to routes that range from 5.3 or so up through 5.13. There are a number of really popular routes at Rose. These routes date to at least the early 1970's when Rose Ledge was frequented by Dave Rikert, and then by Al DeMaria of Vulgarian fame and Al's students and instructors from his excellent outdoors and rock climbing programs at the nearby Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMH). These routes -- including Fist Fight, Tennessee, Double Overhead Cam, Leave it to Beaver, Rikert's Corner, and Ben's Boot -- have been given these names -- the names that Al and his programs used in the mid-1970's -- on an "Also Known As" ("aka") basis in this online guide, with modern route names used first, in order to make it easier for today's visitors to find these routes.
As of 2020, Al Rubin's excellent guide, "Rose Ledge Rock Climbs (2nd Edition)," is once again in print. This guide is an encyclopedic source of information on rock climbing at Rose that provides far more information that we've assembled here, and Al's guide also includes a lot of information on routes that are less heavily used. As of April 2020, this editor was able to acquire a copy of Al's guide via the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition website [climbgneiss.org]. It's possible that Al's guide is also available elsewhere, at Central Rock Gym in Hadley or online or in a retail shop. Please consider supporting Al's efforts by buying a copy of this guide.
A note on climbing advocacy and access issues at Rose Ledge: The Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition [climbgneiss.org] has done a lot of good work to improve and maintain access and trails to Rose Ledge to maintain a good relationship between the climbing community and FirstLight Power, and to mediate conflicts between climbers and the folks who own property on Poplar Mountain Road which is home to a popular but small parking lot that is heavily used by climbers. The relationship that the WMCC has developed with FirstLight and the related Northfield Moutnain Recreate and Environmental Center and local climbers and property owners have played crucial roles in keeping Rose Ledge open and accessible to the climbing community. Please see the WMCC website [climbgneiss.org] for current information on access and relations with FirstLight and local property owners before you visit Rose Ledge. Please follow WMCC's advise on any and all local issues regarding bolting (don't do it) and access to climbing at Rose Ledge and respect any and all rules posted regarding climbing or access to Rose Ledge. That's the best way to assure that the climbing community will continue to enjoy access to this beautiful crag.
Northfield Mountain is located on Route 63, two miles north of Route 2, or five miles south of Route 10, in Northfield, Massachusetts.
TRAVELING NORTH ON I-91:
Travel Route 91 North to Exit 27.
Travel Route 2 East for eight miles.
Turn left onto Route 63 North. Travel two miles. Northfield Mountain is on the right.
TRAVELING SOUTH ON I-91:
Travel Route 91 South to Exit 28.
Turn left onto Route 10 North for five miles (heading toward Northfield).
Turn right onto Route 63 South for five miles. Northfield Mountain is on the left.
TRAVELING FROM THE EAST:
Take Route 2 West. Approximately 6.5 miles after the Erving Paper Mill, take a right onto Route 63 North.
Follow Route 63 for 2 miles. Northfield Mountain is on the right.
TRAVELING FROM THE WEST:
Take Route 2 East to Greenfield. Travel on Route 2 East/Route 91 north, getting off at Exit 27. Continue on Route 2 East for approximately 8 miles to Route 63 North.
Turn left onto Route 63 North. Northfield Mountain is 2 miles up on the right.
Parking: Northfield Mountain has a Visitor Center, which is the most spacious option for parking. Please use the Visitor Center if you're bringing a dog to Rose Ledge. There is also a small parking area on private property on Poplar Mountain Road. Poplar Mountain Road is the first street on the east side of Route 63, south of Northfield Mountain. The Poplar Mountain Road parking area is about 1/4 mile up Poplar Mountain Road, on the left, across the street from an obvious private garage. This lot is private property and the owners have been gracious enough to allow cars to park here for years, so please be considerate. If there's a fee box in the lot, please pay to park in the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot.
An important note about access to Rose Ledge from Poplar Mountain Road: Un-neighborly and insensitive behavior in and around the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot and along Poplar Mountain Road has, at times, been the focus of some serious conflicts between climbers and the people who live or work on Poplar Mountain Road. Climbers' use of Poplar Mountain Road for access to Rose Ledge is a privilege; it's not a right. When conflict with the locals has flared, as it did in late summer 2009, access to Rose Ledge from Poplar Mountain Road has been lost altogether for years. Each of us has to do our part in order to assure that we can continue to enjoy the use of Poplar Mountain Road for access to Rose Ledge. Please park at the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center if the Poplar Mountain Road lot is full. Don't park on the shoulder of Poplar Mountain Road. Don't block the dirt road at the top of Poplar Mountain Road with your vehicle - it's a local property owner's access road, and they use it frequently. Carry your gear to and from the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot - don't drop it off on the dirt road at the top of Poplar Mountain Road. If you bring your dog to the crag, please use the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center parking lot for access to Rose. The locals on Poplar Mountain Road have specifically asked that you not walk your dog - on leash or unleashed - on Poplar Mountain Road, as that invariably causes a ruckus with the local critters. Laziness, insensitivity, or impatience with the short approach to Rose Ledge - even via the somewhat longer approach from the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center - are not acceptable excuses for creating or exacerbating conflicts between the climbing community and the folks who live or work on Poplar Mountain Road. See the Rose Ledge page on [[the Western Massachusetts Climbers Coalition website]climbgneiss.org for information on current access issues on Poplar Mountain Road.
Approaching from FirstLight Power's Northfield Mountain Visitor Center parking lot: Walk south on the Jug End trail (a ski trail in winter), beneath high tension power lines, until you reach the Rock Oak Ramble trail on the left. Rock Oak Ramble is a well maintained foot trail - a ski trail in winter - that climbs steadily up the mountain. Take the second right onto the Rose Ledge Foot Trail just before the main trail trends somewhat steeply uphill toward Yellowjacket Pass. This intersection is marked, as of Summer 2007, with a sign that points out both the way to Yellowjacket Pass, and the turn onto Rose Ledge Foot Trail. As you walk up the Rose Ledge Foot Train, Rose Ledge will begin to appear through the woods on the left side of the trail, initially as low, somewhat rambling outcrops, and then as increasingly taller cliffs. Approach time: About 35 minutes.
Approaching from the Poplar Mountain Road parking lot: Walk up the paved road to a gate. Walk around the gate uphill towards the powerlines. At the powerlines, turn left on a gravel road then immediately right to cross under the powerlines traveling uphill (as opposed to along the powerlines downhill). Walk up Rock Oak Ramble, approaching Rose Ledge as for the approach from the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center. Approach time: About 20 minutes.
Classic Climbing Routes at Rose Ledge
Days w Precip