Franklin [rock(sport,trad)] 


Franklin is a small sport climbing area along Route 33 about 40 miles west of Harrisonburg, or about 30 miles south of Seneca. (It took us about 3 1/2 hours from Maryland suburbs). Franklin was first discovered and developed by John Burcham and friends during the early-mid 90s, and was the first place many Mid-Atlantic climbers cut their teeth on bolted routes before going on to challenge the New River Gorge.


This crag is located on a group of private properties and should be treated very gently. Access is open at the moment, but impact has increased exponentially over the years. Please try to minimize group sizes, stay on the trail, tread lightly regardless of your numbers, and do not camp at the crags or on the property. Issues remain delicate concerning parking, trash, trails, pets, non-climber partying. Do not block the gate to the road because the owners are logging above to clear extensive storm damage. See discussions on

New Trail: The big news is that there is a fine new trail along the cliffs. It starts directly up from the parking lot straight up to the obvious Roadside Crag and follows the cliffs to the right up all the way. Be sure to avoid the old braided trails through the woods that started back along the roads. The new trail seems, and probably is, shorter.


  • A local climber, Mike Gray, has put out the Climber's Guide To Smoke Hole Canyon, which covers both Franklin and the local area.. Sales of the guide book go towards replacing aging hardware and maintaining trails at Franklin and in nearby Smoke Hole Canyon. It is available for purchase here:
  • Eric Horst's MD, VA, and WV Regional Guide has an extensive section on climbing at Franklin.
  • Additionally there was a nice online guide available which has good overviews of the sections of this crag, though the guide is no longer hosted and may be out of date: it is saved on a web archive: (formerly at

Camping Options

Thorn Spring Park has a nice tent area and cabins. Groups can rent a pavilion and kitchen facilities; located 3 miles south of Franklin on Thorn Creek Road (Dry Run Road), a quarter mile from its intersection with Rt. 220. (Call to check that it's not the 4-H camp for two weeks). Cabins sleep from 6-16 people. Each cabin has its own bathroom, refrigerator, sink and range plus a wood-burning stove. Guests bring their own linens and cookware. Campers have access to a bathhouse with restroom and shower facilities. No pets. Open all year. Phone (304) 358-7737. Prices: $4 pp/night for tents. Cabins are $10 pp/night for one night and $7 pp/night each night thereafter. and email to

  • Cave Country Camping Area , HC 71, Box 16, Franklin, WV 26807, 304-358-7553, 9 miles south of Franklin on left near Moyer Gap Road, nice tent area along river bank and hay field far away from RVs, $10/night. Takes pets, store, breakfast, showers. Nice and peaceful.
  • Brandywine Recreation Area-National Forest Camping , 2 miles east of Brandywine, WV and 26 miles west of Harrisonburg on Route 33 (about 15 miles from crag), good camping, lake.
CMI Factory Tour: if you've read this far, Kath and I also stopped in at CMI in Franklin and got a personal tour of the factory where they make pulleys, ascenders, harnesses, rope bags, etc., for both wholesale and retail (stands for Colorado Mountain Industries, started 30 years ago). Stop in if you're waiting for the rock to dry!
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