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Franklin Gorge

Select Route:
A Moment of Clarity S 
Aloha (Bircham's Other) S 
Anchors Away S 
Aqualung S 
Barnacle Bill S 
Barney Rubble S 
Belly of the Whale S 
Bends, The S 
Bircham's Beach S 
Bird of Prey S 
Black Magic S 
Blood, Sweat and Chalk S 
Brand New Dance S 
Break the Chain S 
Castaways S 
Davey Jones' Locker S 
Decompression Sickness S 
Dig Dog Dig S 
Dynosaurus S 
Early Retirement T,S 
Eddie's 10b Roof S 
Edge-u-cation  S 
First Aid S 
Gray Matter S 
Hidden Treasure S 
Jump Start S 
Keelhauled S 
Last Laugh, The S 
Limestoned S 
Lost Planet Airman S 
Lunar Debris S 
Mostly Harmless S 
Neptune (?) S 
Odysseus S 
Potential Energy S 
Raised by Sasquatch S 
Reflections S 
Rock Your World S 
Roofasaurus S 
Sanitary Fish Market S 
Shipwrecked S 
Sizzle S 
Skid Marks T 
Slush S 
Southside S 
Squeal Like a Pig S 
Sticks and Stones S 
Super Amazing Sea Monkeys S 
Sweet Dreams S 
Then I Fired the Carrot S 
Unknown 5.10c (Roadside) S 
Unnamed RB 1  S 
Unnamed RB 2 S 
Van Idle Route 1 S 
Van Idle Route 2 S 
Walk the Plank S 
Wild, Wild West S 
Wintermute S 
Wish I Were a Fisherman S 
Wish I Were a Golfer S 
Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

Ascent of Cheat Mountain through dense pine forest. Near Durbin, WV
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Franklin Gorge  

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Location: 38.66451, -79.3243 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 27,683
Administrators: Ladd Raine, Shawn Heath, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ladd Raine on May 17, 2007  with updates from AndyJohnson
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Early morning sunrise outside of Franklin, WV. Pho...

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Access Senstive!! Be repectful to environment, neightboors, locals and remember Guideline #1.
Do not camp at Franklin. Not in your car. Not anywhere.

Pockets, Jugs, Rails, Overhanging jugs hauls, Moderate classics and many other awesome things about Franklin are frequently overlooked by everyone in the climbing world except for locals.

Great collection of sports routes here that folks generally use as a local crag, not neccesarily a destination.

Many locals use Franklin's cliff as a trainging ground for the challenging vertical cliffs of the New River Gorge (3-4 hours away).

A good guidebook doesn't exist for this area, so onsight!!
For those who don't like onsighting... Online Guide Here isn't exactly the best guidebook, filled with errors, but it is better than nothing.

Yay, my first clean 5.10 TR was here!! 7-05

Getting There 

From Harrisonburg, VA the distance is about 41 miles, driving time is just over an hour.
To reach Franklin: Drive west on Rte 33, through Rawley Springs, into the National Forest and over Shenandoah Mountain, with great views all along the way (about 15 miles to the top of Shenandoah Mtn from Harrisonburg).

Stay on Rte 33 through the small town of Brandywine, making a right turn before passing over a bridge on the way out of town. Watch for deer along this stretch of road near sunset.

Pass through Oak Flats to climb over the next mountain and descend into Franklin, past a welding shop and State Police Headquarters. The Roadside Crag lies along this stretch of road, as well, directly across from Delta Road 31.

2.8 miles after the State Police HQ, slow down as you approach the obvious bridge over the South Fork of the Potomac River, with Kemper's Store on your right. Please patronize this local business, whose owners have always been welcoming to climbers of all types.

Between Kemper's entrance and the bridge is 5|11 River Gap Road (dirt). Turn right. Maximum speed on this road should be about 10 mph- it is narrow and rough, and large 4x4s can appear from the opposite direction.

Follow dirt road to obvious parking, exactly one half mile in. Park in consideration of other parties and traffic. Please do not block the gate going up the mountain, or your car may be towed.

To reach the new trail, new bouldering, and upper walls: Hike up the log/stone steps leading to the "Parking Lot Wall" (Look for pink ribbon tied around a large tree about 8'off the ground.). Head right from here along the new (and still improving) trail. For the River's Bend crags, park as you would for anything else, then hike downstream to where the road ends and continue along the riverbank for another 2/10s of a mile. Coming from Seneca, the Franklin Gorge turn off is one mile east of the town of Franklin on Route 33.

Information retreived via RC.com

Climbing Season

Weather station 0.4 miles from here

60 Total Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',30],['2 Stars',22],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Franklin Gorge:
Castaways   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 30'   
Aloha (Bircham's Other)   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 80'   
Slush   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Jump Start   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 30'   
Shipwrecked   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   
Blood, Sweat and Chalk   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 70'   
Anchors Away   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13     Sport, 35'   
The Last Laugh   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   
Bircham's Beach   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 70'   
Aqualung   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 65'   
Potential Energy   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 60'   
Edge-u-cation    5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 35'   
Rock Your World   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   
Super Amazing Sea Monkeys   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 30'   
Decompression Sickness   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   
A Moment of Clarity   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 50'   
Barnacle Bill   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   
The Bends   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 80'   
Dynosaurus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Davey Jones' Locker   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
Browse More Classics in Franklin Gorge

Featured Route For Franklin Gorge
Heather Sudlow on Decompression Sickness: Eyeing u...

Decompression Sickness 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b  WV : Franklin Gorge
Big moves, crimps, jugs even a roof! Decompression Sickness is the sickness! Never mind its sandbagged reputation, get on it!Start on face and climb up and left around buttress. Use long draws on first few bolts to cut down on rope drag. Move through a crimpy section to good stance just below a small roof. From here power straight up roof on jugs to easier ground and anchors or traverse ten feet left to the excellent alternate route The Bends (5.11c)....[more]   Browse More Classics in WV

Photos of Franklin Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
super fun 5.7
super fun 5.7
View looking out over Franklin Gorge.
View looking out over Franklin Gorge.
TR'ing on Barnacle Bill--a Franklin super-classic!...
TR'ing on Barnacle Bill--a Franklin super-classic!...
5.11a - Walk the Plank - Right before the roof...a...
5.11a - Walk the Plank - Right before the roof...a...
Leading Shipwrecked (5.9-moderate) on Franlin's Im...
Leading Shipwrecked (5.9-moderate) on Franlin's Im...
View from the top of Franklin Gorge
View from the top of Franklin Gorge
Hidden Treasure (5.11c) -- a nice climb just next ...
Hidden Treasure (5.11c) -- a nice climb just next ...
Summer time in Franklin
Summer time in Franklin
Crux move on a 5.9 up at franklin. It felt like 5....
Crux move on a 5.9 up at franklin. It felt like 5....
5.11b - Barnacle Bill - Just the beginning.
5.11b - Barnacle Bill - Just the beginning.
5.6 section of the 5.9
5.6 section of the 5.9
Red buds in bloom. Franklin Gorge - River's Bend e...
Red buds in bloom. Franklin Gorge - River's Bend e...

Comments on Franklin Gorge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 15, 2014
By Jesse Coburn
From: Manchester, NH
May 18, 2008
Im going to be in this area this summer and i need some info on what and where to climb cause i dont onsight 13. Anyone know where i could get ahold of this info?
By Jesse Morehouse
From: CO
Jun 22, 2008
While not a destination, it is great limestone climbing if you are in the area you should go. There is a lower band of limestone with sandstone on top. Most routes have a mix of the 2 rock types.

Id hesitate to do any gear routes here. Eddie Begoone, a serious hardman and no wuss on poor gear related a story once about taking a modest fall on a perfect #1 camalot and having it pull at Franklin. I think he abstained from gear routes after that when at this crag.
By Brian Adzima
From: San Francisco
Mar 12, 2009
Probably pertinent,

By Ronin
From: Smoke Hole Canyon
Sep 29, 2009
All routes have now been restored with new bolts and hangers to replace the junk hardware used in some of the original installations. New routes have gone up and the trail is in better condition than ever, with a new set of stone and mortar steps (courtesy of Eubanks Renovation's Ryan Eubanks and the NoVa/D.C. Crew and with a little help from yours truly), new trails around Blood Sweat and Chalk (thanks to Amber Childress and Whitney Moss), and an increased police presence in the parking lot to prevent local partying from reaching such destructive levels.

It's fall,kids... the best time of all to enjoy Franklin. Come on down and enjoy!
By billyjacks
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 22, 2010
where can we stay if we cant camp there?
By croos
From: Spring Hill, TN
May 4, 2011
Are there any lines here that would stay dry in the rain, and how long does it usually take to dry out. I have a trip planned to seneca and it looks like we will be dodging rain the whole time. any info would be great thanks.
By Andrew Cassidy
Oct 18, 2011
I'm fairly certain I left my evolv talons at Franklin potentially at 7-11 or in the parking lot. Please contact me if you find them!!! It would be greatly appreciated.
By Stephen Ackley
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Sep 6, 2012
I'd like to contact the property owner of the area. Does anyone have this info? Feel free to send me a private message. Thank you.
By Ronin
From: Smoke Hole Canyon
Sep 16, 2013
The Franklin Treasure Mountain Festival will be running from Thursday, Sept 19 through Sunday, September 22, in downtown Franklin, WV. Enjoy live music, home made foods and crafts in the Treasure Mountain Festival area below town.

FROM THE LIGHT, turn left (south) and take the first left (Lee Street) Follow this around to parallel Main Street (220 South) and take your first left toward the bowling alley and buildings below, where you will see the festival. There will be live music and great food available as late as 8 pm Sunday, so check it out!
By Legalto
Jun 13, 2014
In the thread that Brian Adzima posted it mentions that the following routes were cut in 2009:

1) Aloha aka Bircham's Other- hangers removed- can be led on gear... with runout
2) Wintermute- top anchors and 1st bolt hanger removed
3) No Stopping the Burn (R and L Variations)- Chopped
4) Castaways- top anchors removed
5) First Aid- top anchors removed
6) Eddie's Arete- top anchors removed- OLD ANCHOR (TREE) IS DEAD!!
7) Captain Hook- top anchor removed
8) Trident- top anchors removed- old face bolts to be replaced this summer
9) Anchors Away- top anchors removed
10) Super Amazing Sea Monkeys- top anchors and top hanger removed
11) Keelhauled- no anchor, all face bolt hangers removed- will be rebolted 6/09
12) Belly of the Whale- chopped
13) Skid Marks- top anchors removed

Is this still the case? I'm interested in climbing at Franklin, but it's really hard to determine what the state of the crag is. Thanks :]
By Jake Jones
From: Richmond, VA
Jun 15, 2014
As of April 2014, most if not all of those routes are equipped completely with hardware and have solid hangers and anchors. I looked at/climbed most of the ones you mention on that list. A friend and I personally tightened hangers on Belly of the Whale and Super Amazing Sea Monkeys. The state of the crag is, as far as I know, open and climbable. Please be kind to the area and if you see something that needs to be packed out, please do so. Thanks in advance, and have fun. It's a cool little crag. If you have a vehicle with low clearance, drive carefully. There are some humongo potholes on the way in. Bathtubs.
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