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Areas in Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve

MRG Southeast (aka Darkside) 11 / 43 / 2 / 46 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 102
MRG Southwest (aka Taylor Property) 0 / 13 / 0 / 16 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 29

Largest climbing area in Ohio

In May 2017, the Ohio Climbers Coalition in partnership with the Access Fund and Clark County Park District, opened the Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve. There is a great history of climbing and bolting at the Mad River Gorge (previously Springfield Gorge) that spans many years before its official opening in 2017, but now that the CCPD owns the property, it is legal to climb here.

The Clark County Park District is working on expanding the park with new land purchases in the near future, and once this occurs, it will be the largest climbing area in Ohio featuring a mixture of sport, trad, and bouldering routes.

Ohio Climbers Coalition

OCC Logo

Though a lot of work has been done to cleanup and develop proper trails at the park, there is still more work to be done. The Ohio Climbers Coalition and Clark County Parks District are working together to improve the area, but they are always looking for volunteers willing to help in this project. If anyone is interested in volunteering their time, please visit the Ohio Climbers Coalition Website or the Ohio Climbers Coalition Facebook Page .

Getting There

Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve Google Maps

Located in Springfield, Ohio off of Dayton- Springfield Road.

View of sign at entrance to gorge

Please park in the paved parking lot at the front of the park and walk back towards the kiosk area. 


There are currently no camping options at the Mad River Gorge, but there are some campsites in the area that are great options.

Buck Creek State Park (approximately 15 minutes away)
1976 Buck Creek Lane Springfield, Ohio 45502
Buck Creek State Park Camping Online Reservation Form;parkId=960018

John Bryan State Park (approximately 20 minutes away)
3790 Ohio 370 Yellow Springs, OH 45387
John Bryan State Park Online Reservation Form;parkId=960063

Cleanup Efforts

The Ohio Climbers Coalition working alongside the Clark County Park District and Access Fund continues to work hard to cleanup this area. During the Adopt-a-Crag event in May 2017 at the Mad River Gorge, 125,000 pounds of trash and over 200 tires were removed from the MRG. Many trails were also constructed, but there is still a lot of work to be done in the area. Please make sure to do your part and pack out any personal trash from the area. There are buckets placed at various walls for those who would like to do there part to help pick up glass or other items while out at the crag. Once you fill a bucket, bring up back up to the top of the gorge so that it can be properly disposed of by the park district.

Starting in January 2018, the Ohio Climbers Coalition will be hosting monthly adopt-a-crag work days at the Mad River Gorge. For those who are interested in volunteering, please visit the Ohio Climbers Coalition Facebook page or website for more information. During the weekend of September 29th- 30th, the OCC is hosting the 2018 Mad River Gorge Adopt-a-Crag Presented by Black Diamond. This will be a major stewardship and climbing event. Check out the link for more information.

You can also see before and after videos of some of the cleanup here: Mad River Gorge: Main Trail Pre & Post Cleanup


All route development at the Mad River Gorge is completed by the MRG Climbing Committee (part of the Ohio Climbers Coalition). They are in charge of all rebolting and new route development in the area, and maintain a data base of all routes to ensure that the bolts and anchors are safe for climbers. Some of the routes at the MRG were present before the park was opened to climbers in May 2017, and the OCC/ MRG Climbing Committee are working to ensure that all of these bolts are replaced with Wavebolts with the help of a grant from the Access Fund.

If you have ideas for new routes to be bolted or questions about routes that are already present, please contact the MRG Climbing Committee at: .

The Ohio Climbers Coalition has listed all bolted routes at the Mad River Gorge on the site. If you come across any dangerous bolts or anchors while climbing at the MRG, please report the issue on the Bad Bolts site: Bad Bolts: Mad River Gorge

Rules and Other Helpful Information

Anchoring/ top roping from trees is PROHIBITED at the Mad River Gorge.

Stick clips are strongly suggested for all sport routes.

Practice the Leave No Trace principles and pack out all trash.

Stay on trails/ steps and avoid creating new footpaths through the natural vegetation.

131 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
V3 6A PG13
What just bit me
V3 6A
Lukewarm Sausage
V3 6A
Psychedelic Schoolteacher
V5- 6C
Hang Ten
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Excellent Ella
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Knope We Can
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
6 pack
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Slippery When Wet
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
CTB- Crazy Trailer Bitch
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Super Dads
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
What just bit me MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
V3 6A PG13 Boulder
Lukewarm Sausage MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
V3 6A Boulder
Psychedelic Schoolteacher MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
V3 6A Boulder
Hang Ten MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
V5- 6C Boulder
Excellent Ella MRG Southeast (… > Dad's Wall (aka Glass…
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Knope We Can MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Slingshot MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Scrub-a-Dub-Dub MRG Southeast (… > Clear Creek Crag
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
6 pack MRG Southeast (… > Clear Creek Crag
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Slippery When Wet MRG Southeast (… > Clear Creek Crag
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Smokey MRG Southeast (… > Overpass Area > Overpass Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
CTB- Crazy Trailer Bitch MRG Southeast (… > Amusement Wall
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Super Dads MRG Southeast (… > Dad's Wall (aka Glass…
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
J-Ella MRG Southeast (… > Dad's Wall (aka Glass…
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Recycler MRG Southeast (… > Clear Creek Crag
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve »

Weather Averages

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Prime Climbing Season
This area not new, climbers climbed here a very long time, until accident and land owner had to shut it down, he was very friendly. Its rumored Jim Bridwell cut his teeth here, Jim Carns and other aspiring rock rats, many a great climbs here and fond memories. Limestone nicely featured and pretty bullet proof, can climb here year around. May 1, 2016
Akron, Ohio
Zeke6   Akron, Ohio
I would love to see some pictures of the rock! May 6, 2016
Just checking in on ohio climbing scene. I live and climb in salt lake city now, but I cut my teeth when I was a teenager at Clifton and springfield gorge with my mentor Don Bader. Is this the same area that host such classics as Oh-well 11b, French lessons 12b, and orangutan 11 something?. I wish everyone involved the best of luck acquiring this area. It is great limestone and gave me a life long love for climbimg. Peace. Jun 3, 2016
When I was president of the Ohio Climber's Association we tried to open this area. Unfortunately that was just after a visiting climber was killed teaching some friends how to rappel. I've been out of the loop for a while, but that is not for lack of interest. I was unaware that the Ohio Climber's Association was still operating. If I can be of help let me know. We also tried to open the then new Quarry Park in Fairborn to climbing. We even set some anchors there and then we lost cooperation with Fairborn Parks. Someone on their board talked to a lawyer and they rescinded all cooperation. Last I knew the Masonic Home owned the property and didn't want any liability problems. Jun 4, 2016
This is exciting news--Kudos to the OCC and the Access Fund! The main attraction was (and I believe will be once again) that this area is not on a through hiking trail and therefore more of a pure crag.

Historical note: I haven't heard the Jim Bridwell rumor before, and I'm not aware of him having any connection to the area. A likely bet, however, would be Michael Kennedy, who attended Antioch College and climbed in nearby Clifton Gorge early in his career[1]. I do know that Jim Karn climbed here early on as well[2]. Those of us who climbed at Clifton Gorge were generally aware of and also climbed in the Springfield Gorge. The routes are generally shorter, but pretty high quality for limestone. Needless to say, humidity is generally a problem in this part of the country during warm weather.

[2]… Jun 4, 2016
Stephen Winter
Stephen Winter   leon,wv
Would love to see some pictures of the area. I plan on coming for the trail day 2017 to volunteer but would love to see what it looks like before hand. Also, does anyone know if there is or if there will be any bolted moderates routes? Aug 15, 2016
adam Happensack
seneca rocks
adam Happensack   seneca rocks
There is a good variety of grades here with potential for new development.
Some of the old bolts could use replacement. The ASCA (american safe climbing association) donates full stainless steel hardware to prevent galvanic corrosion. Nov 3, 2016
I echo Chad's comment above. I went to UD back in the mid 90's and have the fondest memories of blasting out to Springfield after class to get in a few pitches before dark. Don't forget Telephone Booth, Johnson&Carns (or was is Carns&Johnson!),and Crankenstein. Add American Alpine Club to the list of organizations helping to get this crag back to public access. From what I understand, the ownership is transferring to County Park District.
Here's the link to the trail day:…
I look forward to revisting next time I'm "back home." Feb 8, 2017
Hello All,

The opening of this crag is a pleasant surprise. Kudos to the Ohio Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund. You guys are the greatest. And many thanks to the Park Division as I understand they are involved as well.

This climbing area is not new just closed down years ago dt access issues.

We used to climb there in the 70's and 80's. I do not know how long it had been host to climbers before we showed up but the routes were well established.

I actually used to have a photocopied pamphlet of the routes. I will dig around and see if I can dig it outta the archives and post it.

Short routes at every grade. Cant wait for it to open it is a welcome addition to the Ohio climbing scene.

I live and climb in the RRG KY now and work in Dayton intermittently.

We have bolted many climbs in the RRG can we help in any way???

Skip Apr 13, 2017
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
All those routes mentioned and nobody says anything about Orangahang (11c)?

Or for that matter, Oh Well (11d)?

Those were some of the most iconic and accessible routes there!

Many an aspiring trad climber cut their teeth on 'First Lead' and then 'Telephone booth.' I know I did so in the 80's before starting to to visit Red River Gorge more often after I moved from Fort Wayne (High School) to Purdue (Uni) and Red River was not much further to drive anyway.

I skipped my graduation rehearsal and parties in HS to go to Springfield Gorge and go climbing in SPringfield in 1990...

I am glad that the place is coming back to life, and thanks for reviving the memories! Apr 21, 2017
Just found out that Springfield gorge is now accessible again to rock climbing that's great news. I no longer climb (that may change after hearing this news) but in the late 80's I was there almost everyday and illegally parking on 68 (not recommended by the way). To add some additional history during that time and to touch on some earlier postings, Its interesting but I have not heard of the rumor that Bridwell cut his teeth at the gorge he was doing crazy bigwall routes out in Yosemite at that time and was one of our "heroes" prompting us to try sleeping in a "bat tent" hanging under the roof of "phone booth" one crazy night in the pouring rain. Jim Karn is a friend of mine and was the one responsible for getting me into climbing and for us Springfield gorge was our training ground and during that period was a hidden gem. Mike Johnson was also a very strong climber (and the old man) at that time and pushed everyone with his testpieces both here and at Clifton gorge. After moving out west Jim would come back on occasions to visit family and friends and he would tell all of us his travels and educate us on the methods, tactics and training of the then top European sport climbers and during these visits he would go on to establish some unforgettable test pieces in the European method "Devine Intervention" & "French Lessions", all pun intended, being a few of them. We did bolt several routes on the south side of the gorge which at that time was considered less desirable then the north side and it was also still considered controversial. I remember Jim telling me on one of his return visits that if the cliffs, with the quality of the overhanging pocketed limestone, where another 50' taller they would rival any of the sport climbing mecca's in France! I have fond memories of this place and climbers I got to know there. Please enjoy and respect this place! Apr 28, 2017
Is there or will there be a guidebook for this area? May 14, 2017
Guidebook from 2013… May 19, 2017
Mad River Gorge is OPEN (south side only - aka The Dark Side)! About 20 routes now bolted - re-bolted by Ohio Climbers Coalition (OCC). More underway.… for what OCC, The Access Fund, and Clark County Park District have achieved. Visit MRG, join us, and help make this crag better, and help open more in Ohio! Jun 3, 2017
Dave Grove: I'm John Mansperger, OCC So. Ohio Stewardship Director, one of the team who's efforts helped get the park open 21-May-2017. Richard Montione gave me your name re: an old underground guide for the north side and possibly the few rts on the south from the 80s. I climbed on the N side in the 80s as well. This area is in contract for purchase by Clark Co. Park District, and will be opened for climbing - hoped for in 2018 ! Bridge and access from south side.
We need all the info we can get to preserve history and route names.
I am also wanting to talk to Chad Zarinskas from SLC. another an old Springfield Gorge climber. Jun 3, 2017
Anyone know what the grade range is for the routes that have been put up so far? Jun 5, 2017
Josh Vondran
Salt Lake City
Josh Vondran   Salt Lake City
@imazilaphone There are climbs anywhere from around 5.5 to roughly 5.12c. Jun 5, 2017
MRG's South Side has routes from 5.6 to 12b so far. There are a few projects, and an overhanging 13b on property that is being purchased (not yet open). Jun 10, 2017
To all those interested in MRG: please consider getting involved. The Ohio Climbers Coalition manages climbing at MRG, and hard work has gotten us to where we are now. The website is out of date, but the Facebook page has all of the latest info, fotos, and videos.
Please join us (and The Access Fund), consider a board position if you can contribute, and plan to help with this area going forward. The North Side will be open, but only if we help Clark County Park District meet their requirement of volunteer hours to match the state purchase grant.
Thank you in advance. Jun 10, 2017
Ron Schilb: OCA has become Ohio Climbers Coalition (I was involved with the former also). See the OCC FB page for latest beta. The North Side will open mid-2018. Join us!
Replacing with SS Wave glue-in bolts, and double screw link top anchors. More moderates are appearing.
No TR off trees, no TR thru screw-links. We've seen people lowering off skinny Wave glue-ins - amazingly stupid and selfish. Jun 13, 2017
Will Mad River Gorge have any camp sites? If that's not a thing, any campgrounds in the area that y'all would recommend? Jun 28, 2017
Courtney Curtner
Dayton, OH
Courtney Curtner   Dayton, OH  
Nathan, there is no campground at the MRG currently, but there is talk of possibly developing one in the future. The other campground just down the path to the MRG is currently closed as the owner is trying to fix it up so it can be reopened. Suggestions for camping in the area include: Buck Creek State Park or John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs. Jun 28, 2017
Courtney Curtner
Dayton, OH
Courtney Curtner   Dayton, OH  
Received info that a climber named Mike lost a pair of new Evolv shoes while climbing out at the Mad River Gorge last week. If you find them, please PM me so I can make sure they are returned to him. Thanks! Jul 6, 2017
mbv Br  
Stopping here today (too much rain in the rrg, so seemed like a great time to check out this new area).

Would anyone be able to point me to a topo that shows the relative locations of each crag? I'm having difficulty discerning where each crag is relative to the parking area.

Thanks! Sep 1, 2017
Jess H Whitmore
Cedarville Ohio
Jess H Whitmore   Cedarville Ohio…, if you want free topos of the area Sep 5, 2017
Happy to have some climbing in central Ohio!

I noticed that some of the anchors (thinking of in particular) have seen better days- I'd love to throw a few bucks toward replacing old gear and establishing new stuff. Where can I donate to help out with that? Sep 14, 2017
Hey Cody,

Please donate to the Ohio Climbers Coalition. We have an ongoing effort to replace old gear and establish new routes. We will also be posting trail building/work days on our webpage so please visit

Thanks and happy climbing! Nov 20, 2017
A correction to the comment and misconception below about the OCA becoming the OCC, this is not the case. In 2010 I formed the Northeast Ohio Climbers Coalition (NEOCC) to try to get access to several areas in NE Ohio. I was never a member of the OCA but to be fair, the dissolution of the OCA was part of what motivated me to do this (I was even speaking with Bill Strachan occasionally for advice). After 3 years of work we did not appear to be making any progress with the park systems and I was busy with a 2nd kid. The NEOCC was losing momentum. Around this time Jack Santo approached me about taking over. He ran into the same problems in NE Ohio and decided to spread the scope of the group to the entire state. He and the board decided to re-name the group Ohio Climbers Coalition when they put in the non-profit paperwork.

Brian Sabourin Mar 9, 2018
What are the best boulders after a rain? Apr 12, 2018
Thanks Cole! Looks great May 16, 2018
Courtney Curtner
Dayton, OH
Courtney Curtner   Dayton, OH  
HEADS UP! The parking lot at the MRG is under construction starting today (6/11/18), though the park will still be OPEN to the public during construction. Just be aware that the workers may direct you to park in certain areas as they complete the project. Get excited for a new paved parking lot coming soon! Jun 11, 2018
Sawyer W
Sawyer W   Van
Looking for a climbing partner for the weekend of 8/11, dm me to make plans!! Aug 8, 2018 · Temporary Report

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