Laurel Knob Rock Climbing
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Undeterred, these hardcore climbers began the first ascents of the exposed, water-grooved face, putting up routes of up to 10 pitches. And they made do with what they had: leaders who came later would arrive at the next bolt and discover with horror that it was a carriage bolt hammered into the wall with loops of rusty bailing wire to clip to.
Because it was a secret crag for so long, documentation on the first ascentionists and even route names isnt easy to come by. But that wont be the case much longer; in 2006, the Carolina Climbers Coalition pulled off the stunning achievement of purchasing Laurel Knob, with the help of donations by climbers all over the world. Now the 1,200-foot dome is open to all climbers, and the CCC has replaced the old hardware on most of the well-known routes like Fathom and Groover.
Some important points of information about Laurel Knob:
- This is one of the tallest (if not THE tallest) crags in the eastern US.
- LK is a remote area with serious multi-pitch climbing. It is not a place for inexperienced climbers.
- Regarding access, Laurel Knob is owned by the Carolina Climbers Coalition, which is working hard to maintain good relations with neighboring landowners. If you're going to climb here, you MUST respect and follow the CCC rules, which can be found at carolinaclimbers.org.
Laurel Knob is in the Cashiers Valley. Make your way to the town of Cashiers and take US 64 east of the town. Continue two or three miles to Cedar Creek Road and take a left (north). Follow this winding road into the hills until it intersects with Breedlove Road; turn onto Breedlove road and continue past Christmas tree farm fields for several miles. The road changes to gravel and ends in the Panthertown trailhead parking lot. This is the starting point for the long and strenuous hike in to Laurel Knob. Allow about two hours for the hike in and up to three hours for the hike out.
NOTE: This trail is the only legal access to Laurel Knob. If you come in from the valley below -- no matter who you're friends with -- you are trespassing!
Hike down the road toward Panthertown valley. Turn right/west onto the Deep Gap Trail (marked with a brown Forest Service trail marker), and continue about 10-15 minutes to a creek crossing (Frolictown Creek). Ford the creek and hike another mile or so to a fork. Take the right fork (the smaller trail) and after another 10 minutes or so, be on the lookout for a trail that angles up and right from the main trail. This should be marked by a small wooden sign saying "Laurel Knob," (35.15293, -83.04679).
Continue on this winding trail through the woods, crossing a stream on a log and past the marked corner of the property line between the CCC property and that of the forest service. Follow pink and/or blue flagged markers and cross over a mossy slab. Before long, you'll see a gravel road and buildings to the left; this is private property. Stick to the trail; continue past the CCC kiosk and down a steep 600' series of switchbacks to the base of the main Laurel Knob face.
At this point, you should come out on a well-groomed trail put in place by the Lonesome Valley development. Continue along this trail until you reach the small clearing at the base of the direct start of Seconds. From here, the Lonesome Valley trail goes down and left; the climbers' trail goes uphill from Seconds and continues along the cliff base.
Classic Climbing Routes at Laurel Knob
Days w Precip