Login with Facebook
Summersville and Gauley River

Select Area...
Gauley Crag 
Long Point 
Lost World 
Summersville Lake 
Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

A side loop off of Dalton also providing access to the Long Point trailhead. Near Fayetteville, WV
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Summersville and Gauley River  

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 38.236, -80.8553 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 365,050
Administrators: Chris Whisenhunt, Ladd Raine, Shawn Heath, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jul 6, 2007
Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed
60° | 35°
Chance of Rain
59° | 51°
Partly Cloudy
61° | 34°
Partly Cloudy
44° | 28°
Snow Showers
38° | 28°
You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]


Summersville Lake is not in the NRG Proper, but due to it's proximity it is considered a part of the area. It is home to a host of high quality single-pitch sport routes along its northern shore. Ratings range from 5.easy (such as at the Orange Oswald Wall) to 5.14 (in the Coliseum), and there are even a pair of outrageous projects yet to be done, as well as much untouched cliffline that is either inaccessible or would require a boat. Water levels in the lake vary seasonally, which in turn affects the accessibility of certain routes. During warm months, deep water soloing can be a great relief from oppressive summer heat.

Getting There 

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 east for a ways until it descends down, crosses a stream at an old bridge, and then heads back up again. Shortly thereafter head right into the woods at a well-marked trail. Follow this trail past a few branches until it descends steeply by a stream and small waterfall. There is a ladder here to faciliate the scrambling. This will deposit you very near the DC Memorial Boulder. Head climber's left along the cliff band to access the Perot Wall and the Coliseum, or right along the cliff to the Long Wall, Narcissus Cave, and Orange Oswald Wall. Pirates' Cove, a great area that is only accessible during low water, can be reached via a separate trail or by scrambling around from the Colosseum.

The approach includes a 15ft ladder, if you are bringing lassie, plan on lowering it down.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.5 miles from here

158 Total Routes

['4 Stars',19],['3 Stars',75],['2 Stars',54],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Summersville and Gauley River:
Hippie Dreams   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 90'   Summersville Lake : Orange Oswald Wall
Wendy's Jugs   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 40'   Whippoorwill
Chunko Goes Bowling   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 90'   Summersville Lake : Orange Oswald Wall
She got the Bosch, I got Drilled   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Summersville Lake : Orange Oswald Wall
Latch Key Kids   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Whippoorwill
Orange Oswald   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Summersville Lake : Orange Oswald Wall
Indian Summer   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 50'   Summersville Lake : Pirate's Cove
Baby Has a Bolt Gun   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Summersville Lake : Orange Oswald Wall
Masuko   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Whippoorwill
Satisfaction Guaranteed   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Summersville Lake : The Satisfaction Wall
Mutiny   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Summersville Lake : Pirate's Cove
Porter for Recorder   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Long Point
Under the Milky Way   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Summersville Lake : The Long Wall
Reckless Abandon   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake : The Coliseum
Narcissus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Summersville Lake : Narcissus Cave
Ly'n and Stealin'   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Summersville Lake : Circus Wall
Apollo Reed   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Summersville Lake : The Coliseum
The Mercy Seat   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Summersville Lake : The Coliseum
Pod   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake : The Coliseum
BC   5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Summersville Lake : The Coliseum
Browse More Classics in Summersville and Gauley River

Featured Route For Summersville and Gauley River
Mike a the rest before the crux

Reckless Abandon 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  WV : The New River Gorge : ... : The Coliseum
A fine route on the best sandstone at the lake. Awesome positioning over the water on perfect white sandstone that climbs like yosemite granite. Walk past all of the routes in the impressive coloseum and end up on a terrace that takes you to the start of the route. There are three routes here. Reckless is the furthest left of the three. Climb up onto a ledge and try not to blow the first move or you'll end up in the drink. Clip a bolt and do a big move up to nice horizontals. Surf up and right t...[more]   Browse More Classics in WV

Photos of Summersville and Gauley River Slideshow Add Photo
pirates cove
pirates cove
Nice little overhangs
Nice little overhangs
The Collesum on the right and Summersville Lake Br...
The Collesum on the right and Summersville Lake Br...
fall colors / low water
fall colors / low water
Whippoorwill from the slab.
Whippoorwill from the slab.
Camp site after one hell of a storm.
Camp site after one hell of a storm.
Random route shots
Random route shots
Swimming and climbing during a hot WV summer... li...
Swimming and climbing during a hot WV summer... li...
A little something for everyone !
A little something for everyone !
Doing the frog
Doing the frog
Cliff jumping is super fun, yet carries a $5000 fi...
Cliff jumping is super fun, yet carries a $5000 fi...
Hang Dawgin !
Hang Dawgin !
The ladder
The ladder
Ladders with dogs, not impossible.
BETA PHOTO: Ladders with dogs, not impossible.
Some of the gang
Some of the gang

Comments on Summersville and Gauley River Add Comment
Show which comments
By Ladd Raine
From: Plymouth, NH
Dec 10, 2007
There is a forum thread discussing the pros and cons of the Army Corps of Engineers' ban on cliff jumping it was orginally posted by Dennis.

I moved it to the forum because it seemed to be more appropriate to have the conversation there.

Check it out.
Summersville Lake Cliff Jumping Ban
By Ladd Raine
From: Plymouth, NH
Mar 5, 2008

Check out the Dr. Topo guidebook here
By T Seas
Jun 12, 2009
Does anyone know some good cheap cabins around the lake? I have tent camped across from the parking lot at the lake @ mountain lake campgrounds but that is like 10 bucks a person per night. Dont want to camp the dam etiher and figured I'd live it up a bit this year, also want ac for that july heat!! I have heard good stuff about carnifax ferry cottages with 1 good review online.

Either way I figure I could get a cabin for less than tent camping if we have a group of 6. I also found for 30 a night economy cabins at rays cabins and 18 per person at rift rafters.

Lastly for a few years now on memoiral day weekend there have been big groups of drunks camping the approach to whipporwill, where the fire star is at the trail merger. they said they know the people that owns the land but i doubt that, seems to be an option but dont want to get fined. What are the consequences for camping in the woods randomly?

Any beta greatly appreciated (ps I know that DWS is "Banned" but last I checked the police here don't climb rocks so good luck catching me)
By Caralyn
May 11, 2010
Advice: Make sure to lock your car & cover any valuables when you park in the dirt parking lot before you climb at the lake. We had friends who had their car broken into there while we were climbing & a ton of camping/climbing gear stolen.
By Clay Rardon
From: Bartow, WV
Sep 15, 2010
Awesome area, the steep/overhanging climbing + water had me thinking about Ton Sai and Railay the entire time I was at Summersville Lake.

If you have a big dog, you can bring him/her down by:

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 behind the second house another trail breaks right and downhill follow this until you see a larger gray house, look to the right for a gully (note: there is no real trail to the gully) hike down this gully until it leads to a break in the cliff... this is just a minute or three past Orange Oswald.

Again Keep Your Dogs Leashed near those houses!!!
By SteveBSU
From: Muncie, IN
Dec 26, 2011
Hi, does anyone know how the climbing in in January at the Whippoorwill crag is like?
By indiegirl
Jul 10, 2012
Hi I was wondering if anyone found a pair of La Sportiva Muira women's size 36 at summersville lake/narcissus cave/near sniff that drill 5.8 route on July 8th. Thanks for your help!
By MojoMonkey
Nov 8, 2012
Are Whippoorwill and Pirate's Cove currently climbable? I thought they were usually accessible sometime in October, but have seen elsewhere that the water level for Summersville should be below 1600 here: lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/white... It is currently at 1615. Higher than normal from Sandy and recent rain, or good to go?
By ----
Nov 8, 2012
A friend of mine went and climbed Indian Summer several weeks ago, so i would imagine you're good to go on both Pirate's Cove and Whippoorwill. The lake was quite low last I checked.
By Antonio Caligiuri
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Jul 8, 2014
Great advice from Clay circa 2010! I don't know about back then, but the trail that you follow past/above the ladder is now marked with red blazes. Follow the blazes until you see the big house, then cut down the gully.