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Laurel Knob

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
'Shimer Down T 
A Second Way (Variation Finish to Seconds) T,S 
Aloha slab T 
Annie Get Your Guns T 
Arrested Development  T 
Before the Settlers Arrive T 
Better late than never T 
Biopsy T 
Black Flag T 
Buried Treasure T 
Canyons of Laurel T 
Central Pillar Direct Finish T,S 
Central Pillar of Laurel T 
Clippidy Doodah... S 
Clowns to the Left of me T 
Cotton Pony  T 
Cruising with the Top Down T 
Defective Sonar T 
Dike hike - Monster Groove T 
Dillard Arete T 
Don't call me surely T 
Dry streak T 
Fathom T 
Fathom Direct T 
Fathom Escape Hatch T 
Finger Lickin' Good T 
Friction Addiction T 
Frolictown T 
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree T,S 
Funky Chicken, The T 
Get it while it's hot T 
Gibbet , The T 
Girl friend route T 
Groover (Gaskin Finish) T 
Groover Variation (Fischesser Finish) T 
Groovin' in the name of the Laurel T 
Have and Not Need T,S 
High & Dry T,S 
Hone Ranger T 
Hypocrite's Corner T 
Jokers to the right  T 
Keel Hauled T 
Laurel's Girdle T 
Laurel's Snake Dike T 
Legendary "F" Bomb, The T 
Manatee Fluid T 
Manatee Left T 
Mechanical Bull T,S 
Mirage  T 
Mirage Direct Finish T 
Monster Groove Direct Start T,S 
Monster Groove Reject Start T 
Mutiny T 
Nana's Bananas T 
Nanna Gets Her Groove On T,S 
O.K. Corral T,S 
Oasis T 
Old Times' Sake T 
Permission Granite T 
Pirate's Cove T 
Pirate's cove Alt start T 
Pirate's Cove direct finish T 
Puff The Magic Dragon T 
Quantum Mechanic's Arete T,S 
Rejected Radar T 
Rock Eating Tree T 
Route Of The Living Dead T 
Seconds T 
Squirrely man T 
Steep in the Teacups of Laurel T,S 
Stegg, Roy Fathom ALT. T 
Stellar Sonar T 
Stemming Laurel T 
Stingray T 
Two Rattlers in Your Face T 
Unfathomable T 
Use It Express T 
Use It Or Luge It T,S 
Use it or Luge it Direct Start T 
Walkin' Da Plank T 
Wild Turkeys T 
Wild Wild West  T,S 
Wormhole T 
Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

Waterfall Area
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Green Triangle Trail
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Fant's Grove Perimeter Loop
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From MP's sister site:

Laurel Knob Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 1,200'
Location: 35.1503, -83.0564 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 121,986
Administrators: Ryan Williams, Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: andjoely on Nov 17, 2006

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For many years, Laurel Knob was The Un-named Crag, a secret destination known to the chosen few. Climbing was illegal here, but that didn’t stop the determined climbers who saw the imposing granite dome rising out of Lonesome Valley near Big Green Mountain. They thrashed and bushwhacked for hours through thick rhododendron to the base of the cliff, looking up in awe at an expanse of rock so tall they couldn’t see the top.

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 isn’t easy to come by. But that won’t 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

Getting There 

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; take a right here 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. At the first intersection with another old road, take a right 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."

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.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.6 miles from here

83 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',15],['3 Stars',49],['2 Stars',15],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Laurel Knob

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Laurel Knob:
Groover Variation (Fischesser Finish)   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 9 pitches, 1320'   
Groover (Gaskin Finish)   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 6 pitches, 900'   
Biopsy   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 5 pitches, 500'   
Seconds   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 7 pitches, 1100'   
Manatee Fluid   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 4 pitches, 600'   
Fathom   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 8 pitches, 1000'   
Squirrely man   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 230'   
Central Pillar of Laurel   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 5 pitches, 500'   
Have and Not Need   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 4 pitches   
Fathom Direct   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b R     Trad, 8 pitches, 1000'   
Finger Lickin' Good   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 3 pitches, 350'   
Stemming Laurel   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 5 pitches, 750'   
Dike hike - Monster Groove   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 6 pitches, 1000'   
The Funky Chicken   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 2 pitches, 350'   
Oasis   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 6 pitches, 1000'   
Hone Ranger   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c X     Trad, 5 pitches   
Canyons of Laurel   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 6 pitches, 850'   
The Legendary "F" Bomb   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 4 pitches, 600'   
Nana's Bananas   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 4 pitches, 650'   
Steep in the Teacups of Laurel   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Trad, Sport, 6 pitches, 935'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Laurel Knob

Featured Route For Laurel Knob
Rock Climbing Photo: topo

The Legendary "F" Bomb 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c  North Carolina : Laurel Knob
This is an amazing laser cut water groove and streak that probably should have been climbed a long time ago. In my opinion it is easily one of the best routes at Laurel Knob. Start up high on a wooded ledge, same as for Nannas Bananas. FYI: This route dries long before Manatee Fluid (for reference).P-1. Very fun pitch if dry. Climb the left-hand groovy crack thing to a ledge and belay from bolts. 5.9. (Alt if wet, climb the 4th class slab on right to same ledge)P-2. 5.11 The money pitch... ...[more]   Browse More Classics in North Carolina

Photos of Laurel Knob Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Laurel Knob and Dillard canyon from above 09/08
Laurel Knob and Dillard canyon from above 09/08
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the turn you're looking for just shy of th...
BETA PHOTO: This is the turn you're looking for just shy of th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Routes on the right section of Laurel Knob. (Updat...
BETA PHOTO: Routes on the right section of Laurel Knob. (Updat...
Rock Climbing Photo: Routes in the center of Laurel Knob. (Updated June...
BETA PHOTO: Routes in the center of Laurel Knob. (Updated June...
Rock Climbing Photo: J Dull at the top of the third pitch! Chicken head...
J Dull at the top of the third pitch! Chicken head...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking out from The Funky Chicken - showing route...
BETA PHOTO: Looking out from The Funky Chicken - showing route...
Rock Climbing Photo: Laurel Knob...all paid for...yeah, baby!
Laurel Knob...all paid for...yeah, baby!
Rock Climbing Photo: LK and Lonesome valley during a late afternoon rap...
LK and Lonesome valley during a late afternoon rap...
Rock Climbing Photo: Buried Treasure.
Buried Treasure.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Holley Navigating the slippery slopes of Fath...
Mike Holley Navigating the slippery slopes of Fath...
Rock Climbing Photo: 30% chance of rain.
BETA PHOTO: 30% chance of rain.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at pitch 5 of Groover. Below me is the ...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up at pitch 5 of Groover. Below me is the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view up Lonesome Valley from hwy 64.
The view up Lonesome Valley from hwy 64.
Rock Climbing Photo: Hazy long shot of Laurel Knob 09/08
Hazy long shot of Laurel Knob 09/08
Rock Climbing Photo: LK from below.
LK from below.
Rock Climbing Photo: Fathom
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up from the Base!
BETA PHOTO: Looking up from the Base!
Rock Climbing Photo: Coming off the hike in, worth it from minute 1
Coming off the hike in, worth it from minute 1
Rock Climbing Photo: I found this photo on the web.  Good perspective o...
I found this photo on the web. Good perspective o...

Comments on Laurel Knob Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 1, 2017
By Sean Cobourn
From: Gramling, SC
Apr 1, 2008
The CCC is still trying to pay for this awesome cliff. Cost $250,000. We still owe around $25,000. Thanks to everyone who has donated. Help us get over the top by making your tax deductible donation today. Go to for details on how to help.
By Sean Cobourn
From: Gramling, SC
Feb 10, 2009
The CCC met its goal of raising $250,000!! LK is now owned by the CCC on behalf of climbers everywhere. Thanks to all who helped make this acquisition possible.
As an aside, the CCC still has annual expenses such as insurance and property taxes for the cliff. Comes to around 3-4k per year. Donations are appreciated. More info can be obtained at
By Paul Shultz
From: Hudson, Ma
May 14, 2009
Check out the Alpinist 25 article on it!
By Eric Thomson
Jul 27, 2009
Some of the new routes with topos and beta pictures can be found on this thread:
By Drew B.
From: SLC
Nov 10, 2009
Is the climbing here in Febuary/March doable?
By BirminghamBen
From: Birmingham, AL
Nov 10, 2009
If it's clear and the sun is out, you shouldn't freeze to death. Camping will be mighty cold as will the face if it is overcast and windy, but conditions are variable that time of year and it could make for some great friction.
By TomCaldwell
From: Clemson, S.C.
May 10, 2010
Instead of hiking the gravel road from Panthertown Parking Lot, make the first right onto Wilderness Waterfall Trail, which is now marked with NSF signage at the trail heads. This is a much more enjoyable trail with a great view. You end up meeting up with Deep Gap Trail right before the Frolicktown Creek crossing. This trail may be slighly longer, but on a hot day is much more shaded than the awful gravel road. FYI, make sure you don't lose the trail when you reach the slabs before the waterfall. Head down the slab to stay on the trail, do not traverse to the right. The trail to the right eventually turns into private property.
By William Turner
From: Carmel, Indiana
Jan 16, 2014
Can you camp on Laurel Knob if your on a portaledge 50+ feet in the air?
By Mike Reardon
Jan 18, 2014

William; see the management plan above. Per the Management Plan, Camping is not allowed on CCC property, which includes the rock.

On a side note, the kiosk has fallen. We attempted to resurrect it but it may need to be rebuilt. This may take a few seasons.

The good news is, a new side trail has been built to the Biopsy/ Girdle area. Thanks CCC volunteers!
By Morrismc
From: Portland, Or
Nov 5, 2014
Just had a great first day at Laurel. Snow in the parking lot didn't perturb as we knew with a south facing cliff, warmth was not far away.

The approach seemed relatively straightforward and only took us just over an hour to the base of seconds and 1.25 hours on the way out.

Here's an idea, a mountain bike would shorten the approach significantly.... Just a thought...
By burlap submariner
Dec 1, 2014
Thinking of doing a week trip end of March/ first week of April. Is that time of the year too rainy to be worth it? Might hit the Glass or Whitesides as well. If there are rainy days, is there decent fly fishing near any of the aforementioned cliffs?
By Jeff Mekolites
From: ATL GA
Dec 1, 2014
I think if you plan for a week, you should be good. Rain could be bit hit or miss. But if you factor in Laurel, Whitesides, the Glass, Cedar, etc. you should be able to climb something, somewhere. The only problem would be a longer rain period. That might shut down some of those options. Fly fishing - not sure about. I think there are some good option around Brevard. Feel free to send me a message for more details.
By Colonel Sandbag
From: Boston, MA
Mar 6, 2016
Is it possible to walk off of the Fischesser Variation of Groover? I'd rather not get so involved in that rappel.
By Jonathan Dull
From: Boone, NC
Mar 7, 2016
Per the CCC Laurel Knob Climbing Management Plan, "5.1. All routes must be rappelled to descend; there is no walk-off. The top portion of Laurel Knob is owned by another property owner. Please help us be a good neighbor by rappelling all routes."

That should answer your question. Be ready to rap.
By Drew Hellams
From: High Point, NC
Oct 25, 2016
Any consideration for or against mountain biking the forest service part of the trail to make better time? Usfs says it's allowed on designated trails.
By jlutotherescue
Jan 17, 2017
Yesterday I did the mountain bike approach to the kiosk at the end of the Deep Gap Trail...took less than 20 minutes for about 2 miles. From there it was an additional 25 minutes to the base of the wall. The riding was mainly gravel with some moderate single track. Very enjoyable and a large climbing pack wouldn't be a burden.

Beta: parked at the end of Breedlove Rd at the Saltrock Gap Trailhead. Rode down the Panthertown Valley Trail TR474 and took a right on Deep Gap Trail TR449 all the way to it's end. Locked the bike to a tree near the FOPV (Friends of Panthertown Valley) kiosk and continued onto the Laurel Knob approach trail as described above.
By Grant Gibson
From: Cincinnati, OH
Jan 24, 2017
Anyone climb when temps hit mid to low 20s at night and a high of 40 during the day? Considering LK this weekend. Not concerned about cold air just if the rock will be seeping more than usual and/or the grooves might be frozen which would make things a little spicy.

Just noticed on Mike's topo where it states dangerous rappels when grooves are wet in cold weather so my guess that includes the FF rap as well.
By nbrown
From: western NC
Jan 24, 2017
Grant, those conditions are fine - just be prepared for ice bombs on groove routes once the sun comes around, as well as extended dry times. Because the water has to melt first, grooves that may be dry initially could start running after you've started up. Laurel is a funny place sometimes.
By Grant Gibson
From: Cincinnati, OH
Jan 25, 2017
Thanks, nbrown. Greatly appreciated. I read a post about the ice bombs. A little more forgiving that having a party above kicking down rocks but still something to keep an eye on. Last question for the locals. Best place to camp nearby? We are planning on leaving Cinci early Friday morning, arriving about noon. Climb a few single pitches (first pitch of a few lines) to scope things out and then hammer it with an alpine start Saturday morning. Super pumped to say the least. LK has been on my list for a while. Weather is looking clear and sunny but on the colder side.
By Grant Gibson
From: Cincinnati, OH
Jan 29, 2017
Hats off to the FA folks who have developed LK over the years. We climbed Seconds via direct and it was awesome! LK will for sure see me again.

On a side note, my buddy left his blue scarpa approach shoes at the Salt Rock Trailhead. If anyone finds them message me please. Will gladly pay for shipping.
By Sam Schutte
Feb 1, 2017
Thought you guys might like the video I made of "Seconds", a 5.8+ at Laurel Knob.

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