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Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve

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Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 953'
Location: 39.91448, -83.85988 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 43,710
Administrators: Courtney Curtner, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Dave Rock on Apr 28, 2016  with updates from Tricia D and 3 more
This Afternoon

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You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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BETA PHOTO: Five routes on Amusement Wall

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 some bouldering routes.

Though a lot of work has been done to cleanup and develop proper trails at the park, there is still a lot of work to be done. The Ohio Climbers Coalition and Clark County Parks District is still closely 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.
Rock Climbing Photo: View of sign at entrance to gorge
View of sign at entrance to gorge


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

Rock City Resort (Currently under development- not open)

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

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

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, 120,000 pounds of trash and over 200 tires were removed from the MRG. Many trails and retaining walls 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. For those who are interested in volunteering for cleanup days, please visit the Ohio Climbers Coalition Facebook page for more information: OCC Facebook Page

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: .

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.

Climbing Season

Weather station 0.4 miles from here

77 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',3],['3 Stars',26],['2 Stars',26],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve:
What just bit me   V3 6A PG13     Boulder, 1 pitch, 12'   Amusement Wall
Campus Traverse   V4+ 6B+ PG13     Boulder, 20'   Amusement Wall
Lukewarm Sausage   V5 6C     Boulder   Amusement Wall
Excellent Ella   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Sport   Dad's Wall (aka Glass Buttr...
S Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad   Dad's Wall (aka Glass Buttr...
Knope We Can   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport   Amusement Wall
Slingshot   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport   Amusement Wall
Dear Jim   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad   Clear Creek Crag
Scrub-a-Dub-Dub   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport   Clear Creek Crag
Slippery When Wet   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 40'   Clear Creek Crag
Bangarang   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport   Amusement Wall
Slappy McCracken   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport   Amusement Wall
CTB- Crazy Trailer Bitch   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport   Amusement Wall
J-Ella   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   Dad's Wall (aka Glass Buttr...
Smokey   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   Overpass Area
Super Dads   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   Dad's Wall (aka Glass Buttr...
Devine Root   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport   Clear Creek Crag
New World Order   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 40'   Clear Creek Crag
Kept to Memory   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport   Clear Creek Crag
Recycler   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 45'   Clear Creek Crag
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve

Featured Route For Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve
Rock Climbing Photo: Psychedelic Schoolteacher (V3)

Psychedelic Schoolteacher V3 6A  Ohio : Mad River Gorge & Nature Pr... : Amusement Wall
Start low on two slots, move straight up using mixture of slots and crimps. Big move to jug. Finish through "campus traverse V5"...[more]   Browse More Classics in Ohio

Photos of Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Master Acquisition Plan for the Mad River Gorge & ...
BETA PHOTO: Master Acquisition Plan for the Mad River Gorge & ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View of sign at entrance to gorge
View of sign at entrance to gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: Planning map from Access Fund Conservation Team Ea...
BETA PHOTO: Planning map from Access Fund Conservation Team Ea...
Rock Climbing Photo: Guide for north side of Springfield Gorge circa 19...
Guide for north side of Springfield Gorge circa 19...
Rock Climbing Photo: Guide for north side of Springfield Gorge circa 19...
Guide for north side of Springfield Gorge circa 19...
Rock Climbing Photo: Guide for north side of Springfield gorge circa 19...
Guide for north side of Springfield gorge circa 19...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ship Rock.
BETA PHOTO: Ship Rock.

Comments on Mad River Gorge & Nature Preserve Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 14, 2017
By Mica The Rock
May 1, 2016
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.
By Zeke6
From: Akron, Ohio
May 6, 2016
I would love to see some pictures of the rock!
By chad zurinskas
Jun 3, 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.
By Ronald Schilb
Jun 4, 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.
By Scott Fife
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.

By Stephen Winter
From: leon,wv
Aug 15, 2016
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?
By adam9592 Happensack
From: seneca rocks
Nov 3, 2016
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.
By Fleetwood Matt
Feb 8, 2017
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."
By Skip123
Apr 13, 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???

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 21, 2017
All those routes mentioned and nobody says anything about Orangahang (11c)?

Or for that matter, Oh Well (11d)?
Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Bubb on the TR problem "Devine Intervent...
Tony Bubb on the TR problem "Devine Intervention (12c)" in Springfield Gorge, OH. These shorts are in competion with Hank's "Mandukes" for the fasion disaster award. Photo by Casey Rhodes ~ 1991.

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!
By Dave Grove
Apr 28, 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!
By Bridget Lorentz
May 14, 2017
Is there or will there be a guidebook for this area?
By dopus
May 19, 2017
Guidebook from 2013
By John Mansperger
Jun 3, 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.

See 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!
By John Mansperger
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.
By imazilaphone
Jun 5, 2017
Anyone know what the grade range is for the routes that have been put up so far?
By Josh Vondran
Jun 5, 2017
@imazilaphone There are climbs anywhere from around 5.5 to roughly 5.12c.
By John Mansperger
Jun 10, 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).
By John Mansperger
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.
By John Mansperger
Jun 13, 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.
By Nathan I
Jun 28, 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?
By Courtney Curtner
From: Dayton, OH
Jun 28, 2017
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.
By Courtney Curtner
From: Dayton, OH
Jul 6, 2017
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!
By JIm Wildenhaus
Aug 30, 2017
If all goes well, and weather permits, this Labor Day Weekend should be great for climbing at the MRG. 5 new routes are nearing completion!
By mbv Br
Sep 1, 2017
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.

By Jess H Whitmore
From: Cedarville Ohio
Sep 5, 2017, if you want free topos of the area
By Cody Degen
Sep 14, 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?

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