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Sport Climbing near D.C
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Aug 11, 2014
I'm moving to Alexandria, VA in about a week and looking for good places to sport climb in the area. So far I've found only TR and trad locations. Any suggestions for good sport climbing within a 2hr radius? Natalie Kinsaul
Joined May 19, 2014
0 points
Aug 11, 2014
i lived there when i was a kid, i went back and remember theres a decent amount of bouldering there. i think the gym there is called sport rock. Chase Bowman
From Baton Rouge, LA
Joined Jan 27, 2014
335 points
Aug 11, 2014
YOu could come up to Birdsboro PA. It's further than 2 hours, but you can camp/climb for the weekend and never climb the same climb twice. gblauer
From Wayne, PA
Joined Jul 27, 2008
695 points
Aug 11, 2014
Welcome to the neighborhood, and my condolences... the DC area is pretty barren in terms of climbing, particularly leading on either bolts or gear.

There are a good number of quality gyms in the Northern Virginia area, and even more if you venture into MD. Sport Rock has a metro-accessible location in Alexandria, and one in Sterling. The biggest (and best, IMHO) gym in the area is accessible from the red line in Rockville, MD (Earth Treks). Sweet lead terrain and hands-down the best setting in the region helps to ease the sting of not having any nearby, high quality climbing.

Here's what we DO have:

The closest crags to Alexandria would be in the Elizabeth Furnace area, about 1 hour west on 66. A 5.11 climber can blow through all of the area's offerings in a few weekends, although there is a worthy line here and there.

Old Rag (1.5 hours + burly approach) has excellent granite and tall routes, some in the 2-3 pitch range. There are fantastic climbs here, although very few casual clip-'n-go affairs. Most "sport" routes here need a bit of gear or are fairly serious leads.

Around 3 hours west will get you to Franklin and Seneca. Franklin is the best 'nearby' sport crag -- tons of routes, most within the 5.9 to 5.12- range, and a very short approach. A crag across the river has a fair number of hard climbs, though access can be tricky depending on the season.

The 4.5 hour drive to the New River Gorge is well worth the trip every weekend possible. It's certainly outside of your requested 2hr radius, but it unquestionably offers the best sport climbing in the mid-atlantic region.
Joined Apr 22, 2010
665 points
Aug 12, 2014
Gyms, gyms, gyms.

There is some fairly crappy rock in the Harpers Ferry area, about an hour from DC, and a few bolted sport climbs in addition to the chossy trad.

You've also got Manchester Wall in Richmond, 1.5-2 hrs away, but that is old bridge abutments, some bolted, some not, on the James river.

I think your best bet, if you want to enjoy the best climbing in the DC area, is to learn trad. Old Rag and Seneca Rocks have some really excellent climbs. Also, trad is way less scary than sport a lot of the time!

Welcome to the area.
From DC
Joined Mar 5, 2010
15 points
Aug 12, 2014
Welcome to the area!


There really isn't anything more than what others have mentioned... except maybe Coopers Rock ( The bouldering is decent and the drive isn't too bad, about 3hrs from Manassas.

huge +1 for the NRG! My go-to climbing area.

Senecca scares the s**t out of me, lol. Up close, the rock looks like what you might get if a 5 year old played tetris to build the structure... but I know a LOT of people that absolutely love it there. Great sandbagged trad and handful of super hard sport lines.

Longer weekend trips might include the Red River Gorge (~8hrs) KY, The Obed (~8hrs) TN, and Rumney NH (~9hrs).


Sport Rock Alexandria has excellent problems, but short roped walls accompanied by long lines to get on them.

Sport Rock Sterling has slightly better roped walls and less bouldering, but it's also pretty darn good.

Earth Treks Rockville Md. is absolutely stellar all around.

Vertical Rock in Manassas (my home gym now) is still fairly new. We have one of the longest lead roofs on the coast, about 60' completely horizontal! The bouldering area is pretty small, but I think the quality of the problems is steadily improving.

I have a number of contacts that make regular trips out to each of the areas I mentioned above. Just message me if you are looking to join a group!

From Manassas
Joined Jul 1, 2012
30 points
Aug 12, 2014
The replies above are all spot on. There is enough short TR & trad around to sustain most for day trips but everything else is as previously mentioned.

You will have little issues finding someone to climb with at Earth Treks. Both indoors and out. I'm currently there 3+ times a week and climbing with a great group of people if you need a belay.

From Damascus, MD
Joined Nov 18, 2012
5 points
Aug 13, 2014
hey natalie,

welcome to the area. i moved to alexandria over the winter, and it has been a super hard adjustment. although i am a trad climber and not a sport climber, i get out every weekend the weather allows and you would be welcome to join up. additionally, i go to sport rock in alexandria, which i do not think is a good gym at all, but if you live in alexandria it is very convenient. (i mean, it is better than no gym, but it is pretty low on the list of gyms i have been to and i've been climbing for 12 years, indoors and out, all over the country.) the sterling location is significantly less crowded but is quite a drive, and the gym in rockville is nice, but also a long drive. anyway, there is a small group of us who get together a couple mornings/evenings per week at sport rock, depending who is around and you are also welcome to join us.
as far as getting outside though, be prepared to drive and drive a lot. i lived an hour outside yosemite before i moved here and i was bummed whenever i had to drive more than an hour. now, weekends average four to six hours to get anywhere, depending where we go.
also, if you can swing long weekends, sport climbing at the red in kentucky is great, but it's about eight hours.

amy a
Joined Mar 5, 2012
0 points
Aug 13, 2014
Great falls is close by as well, not great climbing but it is climbing. Get out to the New, do the extra driving past elizabeth furnace or franklin and get out there it's world class. When you get 5+ days off of work take a trip to the red if sport climbing is all you are looking for, also if you don't Trad climb seneca and the Gunks are the places to learn. EricF
From San Francisco
Joined May 21, 2012
80 points
Aug 22, 2014
Thanks for the feedback everyone! My boyfriend and I are getting settled in to the new apartment and are going to check out Sport Rock this evening. Amy, definitely let me know when there is a meetup happening there. We are very close to Sport Rock and will be going quite a lot. I feel your pain with the proximity of quality climbing. We were living in Denver before we moved and could pretty much drive an hour in any direction and find excellent rock.

Brian, Earth Treks is a great gym. We had a membership in Golden before we moved and loved it. Unfortunately it is just too far away from us to be worth it.

I'd like to check out some of the bouldering close by but it looks like we will need to start saving for a trad rack if we want to do anything on ropes. I drove through Seneca yesterday and it's quite beautiful. I definitely want to check it out sometime. And we will definitely be making trips to the New when we can. I've been once before and it is some great climbing!

If anyone would like to meet up at Sport Rock or go to some of the nearby spots please let me know. We want to learn more about the area and meet some local climbers too!

Thanks again for all of your feedback. It has been very helpful!

Natalie Kinsaul
Joined May 19, 2014
0 points
Jan 16, 2016
Safe Harbor just outside Lancaster PA has pretty solid sport climbing in relation to the drive, not to many trad options. Stephenmontgomery
From Maryland
Joined Jun 30, 2014
228 points
Jan 23, 2016
Hey Natalie!

I train at SR Alexandria, my schedule is really flexible, message anytime if you want to meet up! I'm usually about 15 minutes away. Honestly the crowds are unbelievable at SR in the evenings, as you might have seen already :) I would say mornings, or before 5pm or after 8:30 are reasonable. Between 6-8 I won't go near the place, but any other time is good!
From Arlington, VA
Joined Dec 28, 2013
0 points
Jan 23, 2016
Second Safe Harbor. It's about a half hour outside your distance max, but there's ~95 bolted lines from 40-80ft. Check out the guide:
From Baltimore, Maryland
Joined Mar 11, 2013
0 points

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