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Great Falls

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Great Falls Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 100'
Location: 38.9923, -77.249 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 93,084
Administrators: Aaron Parlier, Shawn Heath, Jake Jones, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: franciscov on May 15, 2008  with updates from Alex Ivanov


69° | 44°

72° | 48°

73° | 48°

74° | 52°

74° | 56°
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Hiker checking out the climbing. He's sitting on ...


A beautiful area in the Potomac River Gorge. The cliffs are about 60 feet high and made of hard, solid rock. The area is sunny and has lots of climbers and hikers. This is a major top rope climbing area with trees being the anchor norm.

If you want a guidebook for great falls check out the PATC website and pick up a copy of A Climber's Guide to the Great Falls of the Potomac. If all else fails the VA/WV/MD Climbers guide by Horst is also a great guidebook for the area.

A number of climbers that know this area well have mentioned that the rock is very suspect in some places. Others swear that it is completely bomber. There have been a number of incidents here regarding broken holds and gear pulling. This is a reminder that it is up to each individual climber to assess the quality of rock and to accept a level of risk that is appropriate for the person, and for the place.

Getting There 

It's about 20 minutes up stream, and west of Washington DC in Great Falls National Park.

Climbing Season

Weather station 3.2 miles from here

237 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',10],['3 Stars',87],['2 Stars',98],['1 Star',22],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Great Falls

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Great Falls:
Sand Box Corner   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     TR, 45'   Sandbox
Romeo's Ladder   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 35'   Romeo's Ladder
Snowflake   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   Seclusion
Splinters   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     TR, 35'   Aid Box
Great Beginnings   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   Seclusion
Cornice   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   Cornice
Executioner's song   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     TR, 1 pitch, 40'   Dihedrals
Humidor   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 35'   Cigar Box
Flaky   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     TR, 45'   Seclusion
Diagonal   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 40'   Aid Box
Lunging Ledges   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     TR, 45'   Romeo's Ladder
Armbuster   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     TR, 1 pitch, 40'   Bird's Nest
Dr. Needlepoint   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     TR, 1 pitch, 40'   Dr. Needlepoint
Two-Lane Highway   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     TR, 1 pitch, 60'   Bird's Nest
Strong Finish   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     TR, 55'   Seclusion
Lost Arrow   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 35'   Aid Box
Mantlepiece   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     TR, 60'   Juliet's Balcony : Juliet's Balcony: Upstream
Entropy   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 45'   Romeo's Ladder
Middle of the Road   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     TR, 1 pitch, 60'   Bird's Nest
P.V.O (Potomac Valley Overhang)   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     TR   Aid Box
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Great Falls

Featured Route For Great Falls
Rock Climbing Photo: approximate location of Mantlepiece

Mantlepiece 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  Virginia : DC & Northern VA Region : ... : Juliet's Balcony: Upstream
A fun route and the longest one at Juliet's Balcony. Thought provoking crux (no spoilers here). It was a little dirty when I climbed it so give it a look over when rapping down....[more]   Browse More Classics in Virginia

Photos of Great Falls Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: A little fall color in Mather Gorge.  Virginia on ...
A little fall color in Mather Gorge. Virginia on ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View upriver from the Dihedrals area.
View upriver from the Dihedrals area.
Rock Climbing Photo: The big attraction.  Basically all climbing is dow...
The big attraction. Basically all climbing is dow...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Great Falls, photo: Bob Horan
The Great Falls, photo: Bob Horan

Comments on Great Falls Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 26, 2017
By Isaac T.
From: Yokosuka, Japan
Oct 31, 2008
Got any more photos?
By BJ Sbarra
From: Carbondale, CO
May 15, 2010
Just a heads up to visitors to the area, there are some very inconsistent grades here, and some serious sandbags. Fun climbing though in a top notch setting. Quite greasy on humid days.
By H2O
Aug 29, 2012
Good photo of the guy watching the climbing. All the more reason to wear a helmet here as I've experienced hikers up top kicking off gravel to get a photo, sometimes of the climbers.
By wes calkins
Apr 30, 2013
Does anyone know any local guide services around the DC metro area?
By JamieRe
From: Providence, RI
Apr 11, 2014
Hey all,
I am planning a trip to the area and am looking to do some bouldering. Are there any developed problems in the area? Anybody have any beta on existing climbs or areas nearby?

By Nick-R Roush
Apr 14, 2014
There are some good boulders laying around in great falls. some have sketchy landings but you might be able to make it work. I might be heading over there today so I'll take a second look for you. There's also a good chunk of granite hidden in springfield off hooes rd. Has problems from V0 up to about V10.
By Jose Marmolejo
Jun 20, 2014
Hey do you guys recommend placing gear here and leading?
By Edwin B
Jun 20, 2014
Some people say yes, others say no. This discussion from last year might be helpful in deciding:
By Jonathan Steitzer
From: West Lebanon, NH
Oct 20, 2014
A lot of these area descriptions blow. "TBC?" Lets get this updated, this is a nice area, it would be nice if MP could be a little more helpful.
By Sean TM
Aug 7, 2015
Anyone know why this area is no longer available on the app? It simply doesn't show up, along with several other VA areas.
By Gee Double
Nov 7, 2016
Mike Kehough and Jack Beatty are two of the most important climbers in Great Falls, hard route, retro-modern history. Almost all the hardest routes were opened by them. It would be nice to see their names under routes like the Strain, the Oyster, Tipparillo, and The Demon... (1977-1983)
By Brian Malone
From: Olney, Maryland
Mar 26, 2017
The entrance fee is $10 but is good for 3 days.

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