Elevation: 4,823 ft
GPS: 35.023, -83.458 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 16,497 total · 262/month
Shared By: Mark O'Neal on Dec 24, 2013
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry
Access Issue: Details


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

Getting There

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.

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originally WNC, now Broomfield
nbrown   originally WNC, now Broomfield
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. Jan 19, 2014
Mark O'Neal
Nicholson, GA
Mark O'Neal   Nicholson, GA
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.

fs.usda.gov/alerts/nfsnc/al… Feb 8, 2014
originally WNC, now Broomfield
nbrown   originally WNC, now Broomfield
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. Apr 1, 2014
Luke R 84
Athens, GA
Luke R 84   Athens, GA
I've now been here twice, once in June, and late July. Both times the ambient temperature has felt at least 10° cooler than the weather report. Shade covers most of the routes at the Top Rope Wall area most of the day it seems, and even late afternoon on the slab is not terribly unbearable. The chimney route seems to stay shaded generally but the sun does pass almost directly overhead in the early afternoon making belaying and seconding more difficult without sunglasses. I'd speculate it stays fairly dry in the rain as well.

Oh, and watch out for rattlesnakes. Saw a ~2.5-3 foot one at the top of the toprope wall taking in the sun, and there seem to be many horizontal flakes for them to hide under. Jul 30, 2016
Dare Hollaway
Asheville, NC
Dare Hollaway   Asheville, NC
Does anyone know any info on the overhanging sport routes if you go down through the top rope wall gully and take a right on a trail that follows the cliff? I've been here many times since I use to live in Franklin but never could figure out who bolted it or seen any information on them. May 25, 2017
Mark O'Neal
Nicholson, GA
Mark O'Neal   Nicholson, GA
What ever info there was seems to have been lost to time May 25, 2017