Safe Harbor is a sport crag that was closed for most of the last 15 years. Though originally established as a runout (R and X) trad crag, it is now one of Pennsylvania's best sport climbing destinations. Most rock here is low angle with good friction, with a few steeper lines mixed in; like the classic steep arete Wonderama (5.12b) in Safe Harbor South. The walls of Safe Harbor all face west-southwest, giving it plenty of daylight - very inviting in cool weather. After dark, I've seen groups climbing by headlamp.
Safe Harbor North - that is, everything north of Safe Harbor Dam - is closed and off limits. Please respect this closure as arrangements are being made to officially open it in the near future. There is plenty to climb in the South until then.
Conestoga township now owns the land that Safe Harbor South is on, and access is free and open as of November 2011. Driving out of the crag on a Saturday evening, the Conestoga Wagon Restaurant looked pretty hopping, but as a "family" restaurant I don't think they serve "adult" beverages. Rock Hill Tavern looks like a good bet for recovery beer with dinner. Driving ten miles north to Lancaster will give you many choices.
There is no camping allowed at the crag. The nearest campground is Pequea Creek right down the road. Unfortunately, they are currently only open from April to October. Tucquan Park a few miles to the south might be open in the cool season.
From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, take New Danville Pike south to Conestoga (5 miles from Central Park, Lancaster). Turn right on Main Street (3 1/2 miles). When Main Street ends in a T-intersection, turn left of River Road, and you will drive through Safe Harbor Park.
If your party has more than one vehicle, leave them at the park, and carpool from there.
Continue on River Road south for over a mile. Turn right on the winding and rural Green Hill Road. After around a mile, the pavement ends. Follow the road right and downhill, following a flower preserve sign. You'll reach the tunnel shortly. Park your carpool on the side of the road on either side of the tunnel, making sure not to block traffic. There's enough room for many vehicles to park here.
On the uphill side of the tunnel off Green Hill Road, follow a side trail uphill next to high tension power lines. It will connect you to the old rail trail (with no rails left) where it crosses over the top of the tunnel.
If you end up on the lower rail trail, with rails and trains running on it, you're off-route.
Hike the rail trail north to the first sector of Safe Harbor South (around 1/2 mile).
The striking arete right of the large Autumn Arch corner. There were a couple of decent rest spots to shake the pump out of your right arm - that is getting most of the workout on this overhanging arete....[more]Browse More Classics in PA
minquatrails - I think there has been some discussion of this over on the facebook page for safe harbor. If you ask there you usually get a quick reply from Eric Horst. I think the summary is the town is supposed to acquire the land sometime soon, but they don't have a usable bridge from south to north, so once they do that will need to be built, otherwise the only access is from a trailhead 4 miles north.
Safe Harbor is an awesome sport climbing location - with easy access to camping and town, this area makes for a wonderful weekend trip with friends. There is so much to do! You better make this a two day trip!
Be prepared though to blow your feet trying to stand on tiny crips along the slab routes here. Bring a comfortable climbing shoe (if there is such a thing) and make sure to warm up.
Also! If you pick up Green Hill Rd (to get to crag parking) from the south, you're going to have a bad time. The road is trashed and your puny cars wouldn't be able to make it without some damage to the undercarriage. Map of what entrance I'm talking about: goo.gl/maps/XEhA7
Anyway, take some time to meet the locals climbing here; their passion for this crag is palpable. Everyone is so friendly and has a story to share.
Caution: Although there is a parking lot at the north end of the Safe Harbor South crags (on the east side of Powerhouse Road just before it crosses the Conestoga River), climbers should *not* park there! The hike from that lot to the crags crosses private property and access is still a sensitive issue. Additionally, the trail is badly eroded and a bit treacherous, and if you miss the trail you'll end up on active train tracks.
Also: According to Eric Horst, the North crags *are* open. Here's a message from him with directions: SH North crags are open, but the main climbing area (Cemetry Wall) has no direct access yet. So the instructions to visit SH North….is to park at the north-end Trailhead of the Manor Twp rail trail, located on River Rd just north of Turkey Hill dairy. An almost 5 mile hike or bike ride is required to get to Cemetery Wall, although you will pass occasional scattered route development along the way. Direct access to Cemetery Wall (from Observation Road above the crag) currently crosses private property. Thus, we can’t encourage climbers to enter this way…although some surely do. I’ve met with Manor Twp numerous times and they are working on an easement across the private land that will allow climbers to use this more direct approach—this may come to fruition later this year.