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Summersville Lake (main)

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Summersville Lake (main) Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 1,821'
Location: 38.2445, -80.85393 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 124,129
Administrators: Pnelson, Ladd, Shawn Heath, Vicki Schwantes, Jake Jones, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Chris Whisenhunt on Nov 27, 2013  with updates from Antonio Caligiuri


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BETA PHOTO: MAP of Summersville Lake area

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Summersville Lake is formed in the gorge of the Gauley River, and houses one of the New River Gorge's best concentrations of sport lines from 5.6 to 5.14d. Overall, the rock is more featured and more closely bolted than the lines of the New River Gorge proper. Be aware that many lines (including literally ALL of Long Point and Whippoorwill) are inaccessible except by boat from about April to November, due to the reservoir waterline. Deep water soloing can be popular here, but is illegal.

Getting There 

Follow Rte. 19 north from Fayetteville and the NRG for about 20 miles. After crossing the obvious bridge over the lake (with views of the cliffline on both sides), park in a large lot on the east (right) side of the road. Although the following directions may sound complex, if you just follow the main signs of foot traffic, you'll get directly to the crags.

Follow Rte. 19 north out of Fayetteville for about 20 miles, almost reaching the town of Summersville. After crossing the obvious Gauley River bridge, park in a large lot on the east (right) side of the road.

Follow a wide trail through a gate for 5-10 minutes keeping an eye out for a left exit that descends down over a small creek. Just pass this creek crossing and at a gravel berm, take a right back into the woods via a more narrow trail. Follow this for another 5-10 minutes before taking another right down to a creek, and then a ladder that puts you near the DC Memorial Boulder.

If you are bringing dogs that cannot descend the ladder, take the following, longer direction:

Go to the ladder, then double back to the first right and keep your dog leashed, stay right for ~10 minutes until you find two houses. When on the trail follow the red blazed tress down the to gully. This puts you out about 3-5 minutes climber's right of Orange Oswald. Please remember to keep your dogs leashed in this area.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.7 miles from here

107 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',17],['3 Stars',42],['2 Stars',41],['1 Star',4],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Summersville Lake (main)

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Summersville Lake (main):
Hippie Dreams   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 75'   Orange Oswald Wall
That Eight   5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Narcissus Cave
Jeff's Bunny Hop    5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Narcissus Cave
Sniff the Drill   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Narcissus Cave
Souled Out   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Orange Oswald Wall
Menace Alert   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 50'   The Long Wall
Chunko Goes Bowling   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Orange Oswald Wall
Fabulous Groupies   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Orange Oswald Wall
She got the Bosch, I got Drilled   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Orange Oswald Wall
Orange Oswald   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Orange Oswald Wall
Flight Path   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 40'   The Long Wall
Strong Arming the Little Guy   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Orange Oswald Wall
Chewy   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   The Long Wall
Baby With A Nail Gun   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Orange Oswald Wall
Going Ballistic   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 50'   The Long Wall
Satisfaction Guaranteed   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Satisfaction Wall
Under the Milky Way   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Long Wall
Reckless Abandon   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Coliseum
Narcissus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Narcissus Cave
Apollo Reed   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   The Coliseum
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Summersville Lake (main)

Featured Route For Summersville Lake (main)
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeremy Steck on Indian Summer.

Indian Summer 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b  West Virginia : The New River Gorge : ... : Pirate's Cove
One of the few truly splitter cracks in the area. A must do! Start by pulling an overhang using a hand crack. Follow the splitter line to the top. As you near the top, there are a few face holds that you can stem your feet on, but not many. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in West Virginia

Comments on Summersville Lake (main) Add Comment
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By Austin Harris
Jun 30, 2015
Getting There:
To the "Summersville lake parking lot".
If you search for this address it will get you kind of close:
205 Up Yonder Drv. Summersville WV 26651.

More specific directions:
from Fayetteville take Hwy 19 north for 21 miles.
Drive over the only big bridge over a big lake with a sign that says "Hughes Bridge - Summersville Lake".
Then immediately turn right on the first little side street; this is at mile marker 39.0.
Then you will see a big gravel lot on your right where you will park.

Hike on the dirt road behind the gate up the hill. After about 8 min's, you will turn left off the dirt road down the first well traveled, narrow foot-path which heads down into the woods.
After a few minutes, this path will take you across a stream beside a very old, wooden, rotting bridge.
Follow the rest of the directions above.
By CarolineOdell
Sep 5, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Johnny Bravo (5.10a)
Johnny Bravo (5.10a)
By Liet Keynes
From: Denver, CO
Sep 12, 2016
I found the directions to be pretty good and Austin's more specific directions helpful, except one thing: "Shortly thereafter head right into the woods at THE SECOND well-marked trail" - this was misleading, and I tried a couple not-trails I shouldn't have. After crossing the little stream, continue for 3-5min, not so shortly thereafter. And then yes, take the second very well-marked trail down steeply by a stream and waterfall to the ladder.
By Kyle Sutton
From: Richmond, VA
Mar 7, 2017
Some additional directions clarification

I too tried a few "not" trails and after some unnecessary bushwacking and poor orienteering found the correct way, so wanted to add additional clarification for first-time venturers like me.

Getting to the stream crossing is fairly straightforward. Once you cross the stream, you will head slightly uphill. The trail actually diverges here to the left and right. You want to stay to the right. At the time of writing, there is a small rock cairn that marks the correct path. There is also a trail marker with a crudely scrawled "Rock -->" that can be hidden by branches.

You'll keep hiking for a little ways and then once again the trail will split. You want to stay to the right again. There is also a rock cairn at this point as well. You'll know you're going the right way if you see trees marked with red blazes and Army Corps of Engineers boundary signs on the trees.

From this point the other directions are accurate.

The first "exit" off this trail will take you to an overlook with remnants of a campsite. There is a waterfall and stream here as well, but this is not the one you want for access to the majority of the climbs. This is for Pirate's cove. There are boat ropes tied here to assist with the climb down that I do NOT recommend using based on their current condition. So, if you find yourself in this area unintentionally, go back to the trail with red blazes and continue for a bit until you reach the second "exit". You'll find timber "stairs" leading down to a stream crossing and the ladder as previously mentioned.

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