Chapel Ledge

Chapel Ledge is tucked away in the quiet hills of Ashfield, MA. This spectacular setting has strong roots to the climbing history in Western Mass and has evolved into one of the area’s premier beginner crags.

This southwest facing rock is boldly featured granite reminiscent of crags in the White Mountains or Yosemite. Slabs dominate the moderate climbing here; however, more difficult test pieces can be found on brief, overhanging sections of the walls. Additionally, some shorter walls yield moderate bouldering.  Typically, the crag is free of the crowds one would see at Farley, but Chapel is popular with outdoor educators and other groups, so be prepared to see ropes on the main slab.  Many groups that make regular use of Chapel, such as our local chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), are generous about sharing time on the rock, so don’t be afraid of saying hello and sharing a belay.

Parking

Chapel Ledge is located on the Chapel Brook property owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations. Two, six car lots are located approximately six miles north of Williamsburg on both the eastern and western side of Ashfield Road. An obvious trail leaves the western lot and heads to the crag. Great swimming holes – made by Chapel Falls- located on the eastern side of the road help to round out a hot, humid afternoon. The Trustees do not charge climbers (or any other visitors) for the use of this beautiful resource, but the WMCC strongly encourages regular climbers to support this worthy organization with either time or a donation.

Map

Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

The main trail takes the dirt road that exits the western parking lot and winds beyond the gate to the kiosk. From here, timber steps and the obvious trail lead to the base of the cliff. A newly renovated climbers’ trail leaves the main trail and hugs the climbable sections of the cliff band. The climbers’ trail rejoins the main trail and continues up to the summit of the cliff.

Closures

 

Current issues

The WMCC completed some major trail improvements here as part of Adopt-A-Crag ’05. A variety of projects along the climbers’ trail yielding some much needed improvements.

Farley Ledges

Many climbers traverse Route 2 in Farley, Massachusetts numerous times, looking for –  but never quite catching sight of – Farley Ledges tucked behind the trees.  While this search might prove to be an apt metaphor for one’s entire trip, the high concentration of tall, hard routes and excellent bouldering make the effort worth it.

These southeast facing chain of ledges, like much of the rock in the region, is granitic gneiss.  This stone is characterized by big, sloping horizontals, small edges and sweeping features. At least four waves of route developers have put up a variety of lines spanning the gamut of highball bouldering to committing traditional lines to pumpy sport routes. The climbing is best when friction is the highest. Generally, ideal conditions can be found in spring and fall, although the heavily forested areas provide ample shade on hot summer days.

Farley sees more visitors each year, especially on the weekends and holidays.   Plan on seeing other parties.   If the the lots are close to full, consider a visit to Rose Ledges or Mormon Hollow: both are within two miles of Farley and offer more solitude.

In fact, the willingness to climb at a different crag on heavy use days is one big thing individual climbers could do to preserve access to Farley.  Farley has been closed numerous times by landowners disgruntled by our numbers, our behavior or both.  The WMCC was born to deal with the last closure and we have kept it open.  Our purchase of the seven acre plot allowed us to build permanent parking and trail access, but we do not own any of the stone.  In other words, we have stabilized – but not guaranteed –  our access to the climbing.  Please, tread lightly so we can all come back.

Parking

The primary parking area and the trail head can be found on a seven acre parcel purchased by the WMCC. Just west from Holmes Ave down Route 2 near a gravel pullout on the cliff side of the street, a new parking lot and trailhead have been built and the future is looking brighter. This new lot was built for 16 cars though can take a few more. Please park considerately.

Farley has two secondary lots: the old 8-car lot on Wells Street (Holmes Ave) located just to the east on Route 2 across from the cabin looking house. Overflow parking is also available across the Millers River on Bridge Street (Farley Rd) in the small dirt lot. It’s a 5 min. walk to either of the two other parking areas from here. Please remember that both of these overflow areas are located on private property and exist at the generosity of the current landowners.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

The main access trail is located beyond the kiosk at the end of the parking lot. From the parking lot, walk north up the hillside to the intersection with the Red Dot trail. Turn right and the trail will wind through the boulder field before it meets the multi-state New England Trail (Metacomet-Monadnock Section) at Briggs Brook. Continue straight ahead and the trail will take you to the Wall of Early Mornign Light, the most popular sport climbing wall at Farley. To the left the Red Dot trail continues around the back and ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain which is spectacular 1-1/2 mile hike in it’s own right. Many portions of trail are located on private property so please show your respect. Keep your dogs leashed when visiting Farley Ledge since many of the abutting landowners also have dogs.

Closures

CLOSURE  A portion of Farley Ledge is currently closed due to falcon activity. In an effort to protect these state protected birds and their habitat and as suggested by the MA Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Yellow Wall and Main Slab areas are closed until June 15. This closure includes all bouldering and roped climbing ABOVE the following boulder problems: Terrordactyl, Tweaky Bird, Appetite for Destruction, and Mid-Sized Man. If you are uncertain about where these formations are, just be sure to stay off the trails, talus and cliffs ABOVE the flagging tape and signs.

Current issues

Commercial Guiding

Since a portion of Farley Ledge is owned by FirstLight & Power, climbers and other visitors to that land are obligated to follow the rules and regulations established by the Northfield Mountain Environmental & Recreation Center. Part of these regulations include restrictions on the licensed use of their property for professional guiding services. At this time, FirstLight and Northfield Mountain are not interested in allowing licensed use of the cliffs for commerical climbing classes or trips. This is limited to the portion of Farley Ledge owned by FirstLight.  Property owner information can be found on the kiosk at the main trail head.

Happy Valley & The Hideaway

These two areas represent some of the finer bouldering in the Pioneer Valley. While these are technically two distinct areas, they are located from the same access point and are within a 10 minute hike of one another if you know where you are going. Like the majority of the rock around these parts, the boulders and mini-cliffs are gneiss with some outstanding features and quality. There are roughly 50 problems of all grades though these areas are noted for the more difficult problems in the V7 and up range.

Parking

The parking for the Happy Valley/Hideaway is at a small dirt lot located at the end of Dry Hill Road in Montague. This lot is privately owned so please be considerate so as not to lose our privileges.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

The easiest thing to say here is follow someone who knows. A fair share of folks, including myself, has gotten lost out here unless you know exactly where you are going. A trail heads down and right from the parking lot then crosses two small streams before turning left onto a forest service road. Continue along this road until a faint trail heads off to the right through some tall scrub brush. This trail will eventually take you to a small boulder field and cliff band. Just before the boulders, turn left and follow the drainage wash uphill until the trail becomes more defined. This will eventually take you to the Hideaway area. For the Happy Valley, you’re on your own, ask a local or pick up the New England Bouldering Guidebook by Tim Kemple and Pete Ward for more detailed information.

Closures
Current issues

Landowners have expressed concern in the recent rise in popularity of this area, especially since the release of the guidebook, however no action has been taken on their behalf and at the moment, everything appears OK. The WMCC has attempted to make contact with the landowners to offer our assistance if concerns arise.

Mormon Hollow

Mormon Hollow sits inside the beautiful Wendell State Forest in Wendell, MA, just a few miles south and across the Millers River from Farley Ledges.  Although Mormon is smaller then Farley, its impeccable rock quality, high concentration of routes, and relative solitude  – not to mention sun in the winter and shade in the summer – make this crag a very worthy destination.

This west-facing granitic gneiss ledge system offers approximately 30 routes on five tightly packed butresses.  Locals know this “white” gneiss – like that of The Lost Crag or The Pinnacle at Farley – is especially dense and offers good gear placements, sound anchors and enjoyable climbing.   Again, like Farley, Mormon offers a wide array of climbs including slabs, technical face climbs, powerful roofs and splitter cracks from 5.6 to 5.13.  Unlike Farley, the tallest routes top out at 65 feet, yet this modest size make it possible for a climber to get a good sense of the area in a couple of visits.   Additionally, most routes are equipped with bolted anchors and can be easily top-roped.

Parking

Two options exist for parking at Mormon Hollow.

Option A: The Wendell State Forest (WSF), together with the WMCC, created a trail from Jerusalem Road to the cliff tops at Mormon Hollow.  This means the parking, approach, and rock are all on public property – a very rare and good thing in Western Mass!

Park at a small lot on the west side of Jerusalem Road across from some moderate bouldering and just south of spot where the New England Trail (M-M Trail) leaves this dirt road and heads west.    Hike the NET west towards the trailhead.

Option B: Parking for Mormon Hollow is also available roadside at the intersection of Davis Road and Coldbrook Road in Wendell. While the majority of Mormon Hollow falls within Wendell State Forest, the Davis Road parking area is not. Climbers must be VERY respectful of the private landowners who live at the end of Coldbrook Road: keep noise to a minimum and be sure not to block vehicle access along any of the roads.

Park near the intersection of Davis and Coldbrook, and again, be sure all vehicles are parked well outside of the travel lanes.   Hike south on Coldbrook Road towards the trailhead.

The WMCC encourages climbers to use the parking area within Wendell State Forest – Option A –  to preserve access to this wonderful resource.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

Option A: From Jerusalem Road, hike the NET west towards the trailhead.  Follow the NET for approximately 300 yards downhill to a line of large stones placed on the road to block car traffic.  Turn right at this line of stones onto the trail.  Follow blazes across the top of handful of cliff bands that offer moderate climbing.  The blazed trail will gently descend and then climb into a small stand of pine, then drop again.  Rock formations will soon appear and then the trail will descend into an impressive, medieval staircase built by the WMCC.  Follow this to the base of the crag at Cardiac Arete.  This hike from car to stone takes 20 to 25 minutes.
Option B: Hike south on Coldbrook Road for about 300 yards until an obvious road cut heads uphill on the eastern side of this dirt road.  A strenuous five to ten minute climb on a wide, obvious trail levels off and leads to a fork.  Head right at the fork and then take a quick left at a cairn. Follow this narrower trail for 35 yards: the base of the wall will be visible almost immediately.  Climbers first encounter the Wayne’s World Butress, a free standing formation just left of the center line of the area and blocking the medieval staircase (built by the WMCC) leading to the cliff top.

Closures

The rock, approach trails and one of the two parking areas at Mormon Hollow lie on public land.  This means that climber access to this crag is solid, perhaps the most secure crag of the ten the WMCC manages.  Please help us keep it this way: park intelligently, climb responsibly and keep the noise down.

Rattlesnake Gutter

The Main Cliff, a 70 foot overhanging wall, is located on private property and is currently closed.   This cliff contains some of the first 5.11+ and 5.12 trad routes that were established in New England, and is second only to Farley in importance.   The Gutter itself, a deep boulder-strewn ravine located north of the gated road, contains an interesting boulderfield and  broken cliffbands where climbing is neither prohibited nor actively managed.

Parking

Limited parking is available on the western end of Rattlesnake Gutter Road, with the closest boulders only a minute or two away.  Additional parking is located at the eastern end of the road.  Please do not block the gates.

Map

Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

The central portion of Rattlesnake Gutter Road is closed to vehicles, and is easily walked from either end.

Closures

The Main Cliff is on private property and is closed to all public recreation.  If you find yourself on the north side of the road and not within the yellow gates, you are likely trespassing.   Respecting the wishes of private property owners is not only your legal obligation, but it is also an essential part of working access out for the future.

Current issues

The owner of the Main Cliff has specifically prohibited public access-not just climbing.  The Town of Leverett owns the majority of the cliff and boulders within the closed section of road, and is dedicated to preserving the area. Please  park courteously, carry-out your trash, keep noise to a minimum (no portable radios please) and practice low-impact climbing and bouldering (no bolts and please scrub off your chalk and tick marks).   Thanks for your support!

Reservoir Rocks in Great Barrington

The boulders at Reservoir Rocks in Great Barrington is comprised of compact and finely textured Gneiss which lends itself to technical and aesthetic climbing. Although there does exist a large main face home to some great top roping routes the spotlight belongs on the fantastic bouldering at “the Res.”. From easy warm-ups to cutting edge projects the Res., has a little of everything in a beautiful quiet setting…close by to a wonderful small New England town. Currently there are approximately 250 boulder problems on the existing boulders and new ones being discovered in the surrounding areas.

Parking

Parking is along the shoulder of the road at Pine and Quarry Street . DO NOT park at the hairpin itself as this is private property and the homeowners do not need us parking on their property. If there are no parking spots available, there is plenty of parking at the Searles School parking lot (adds about 5 minutes of extra walking) just down the street from the trail proper. Please respect the homeowners and abutters as they have embraced the climbers and we need to maintain a good relationship with the people who are directly next to Reservoir Rocks.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

From the parking area on Pine and Quarry continue walking up the street to the end of the paved road onto to the dirt road (which has a chain across it) and onto the old dirt/grass road which heads straight past the Reservoir (“the Res”…get it!). Continue on for 5-10 minutes to where the trail breaks left and begins a gradual uphill climb. The trail forks again (bear right) and keep heading uphill until it begins to level out. Look to your left and you will begin to see the boulders. The first big boulder you encounter is the Erkanan boulder with the classic “Crystal Problem” (V3) on the front side. The boulders in the main area are scattered all over the hillside with landings varying from dead flat to ankle breakers…climb wisely.

Closures

Currently Reservoir Rocks is “officially” closed to climbing as there is no written Memorandum of Understanding which exists between the climbers (and other user groups) and the Town of Great Barrington. Members of the WMCC and the Friends of East Mountain have been working on preserving access to the area for over 4 years now and meetings continue on a regular basis. The long term goal is to preserve the open space in perpetuity for all user groups to enjoy this beautiful and unique parcel of land and to allow climbers and non-climbers access.

Current issues

Reservoir Rocks and East Mountain was the site of the 2005 Access Fund’s Adopt-A-Crag initiative which was hosted by the WMCC and the Friends of East Mountain. Approximately 20 volunteers spent a beautiful Fall day helping to build water channels on the existing trail and installed a beautifully made Kiosk (built by Jon LaValley). In addition, the volunteers hauled out two huge truckloads of trash out of the woods. We are hoping to continue our work this year by working on installing a ladder on the upper tiers and to do further trail maintenance and clean up this Fall for the Adopt-A-Crag.

Roadside

The Roadside Crag is located in Montague, MA one mile from the entrance to Wendell State Forest and three quarters of a mile from Mormon Hollow.  This tiny cliff offers suprisingly pumpy but mostly moderate bouldering with a one minute approach.

This northeast facing hunk of dusty but solid granitic gneiss is marked by a wealth of juggy horizontals and sees mostly shade. According to Western Mass legend, the first few body lengths of this 100 foot long by 35 foot tall craglett was hand excavated by a local llama farmer turned climber. The bouldering includes a V11, a V7, a V6, a V4 and several moderate eliminates.  Additionally, Roadside features three bolted lines rated 5.10 or easier.

Parking

A small parking area is located on the south side of Wendell Road a few hundred yards southeast of the Wendell Road/Mormon Hollow Road fork.  Take South Prospect Street for about a mile as it climbs out of Millers Falls and bear right at the aforementioned fork onto Wendell Road.  An obvious, shallow driveway and the crag will quickly appear on the right as the road climbs again and breaks left. Pull in and park sensibly.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

Follow the obvious trail the 25 yards to the cliff.  It really is that simple.

Closures

 

Current issues

Trash is a problem in the parking lot.  Please pick some up!

Rose Ledge

Rose Ledge represents one of the regions most popular climbing destinations and deservedly so. The 40’-60’ cliff line contains a plethora of climbs for all abilities (5.4-5.13) though excels in both number and quality of moderates climbs. Some of the classic include Guillotine (5.8), Solar Flare (5.11b), Tennessee Flake (5.9) and Beginners Corner (5.5). The rock, similar to nearby Farley Ledge, is gneiss with obvious horizontal cracks and features. Several climbs at Rose are leadable with traditional gear though the crag remains most popular as a toprope area as access to the top is easy and straight forward.

Rose Ledge is located in Northfield off of Route 63 just south of the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. From Route 2, turn north onto Route 63 and look for Poplar Mountain Road on the right after about 1.5 miles. Rose Ledge is owned by FirstLight & Power and they have allowed climbing at Rose and at other areas on their property including Farley. The relationship the WMCC has established with FirstLight and the Recreation and Environmental Center has been crucial to preserving access to these crags so please respect any and all rules posted.

Parking

About ¼ mile up Poplar Mountain Road across from the obvious garage, a grassy pullout on the left marks the parking area. This lot is private property and the owners have been gracious enough to allow cars to park here for years so please be considerate. There is a $2 dollar fee for parking that can be placed in the box provided or on your windshield.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

From the parking lot, continue walking up the hill to the end of the paved road onto to the dirt road and single track trail which heads off left into the woods. Continue straight on the trail and dirt roads until you see a sign for Rose Ledges on you right (about a 15 min. hike). The property owner at the end of the road currently owns and uses the initial portion of the dirt road so please do not leave your gear where it blocks access to his property. Also be aware of the restrictions on pets. No dogs are allowed, leashed or not, past the parking lot to the trailhead. Please respect these requests.

Closures
Current issues

Rose Ledge was the site of the 2004 Access Fund’s Adopt-A-Crag initiative which was hosted by the WMCC and the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. All of the new trail work including the stone steps and ladder up the main gully were a result of this effort and has been well received. Please continue to support the WMCC as we continue to expand our work to other popular crags in the area.

Commercial Guiding

Since Rose Ledge is completely owned by FirstLight & Power, climbers and other visitors are obligated to follow the rules and regulations established by the Northfield Mountain Environmental & Recreation Center. Part of these regulations include restrictions on the licensed use of Rose Ledge for professional guiding services. At this time, FirstLight and Northfield Mountain are not interested in allowing licensed use of the Ledges for commerical climbing classes or trips.

Skinner

The Skinner area is located on the southern edge of Hadley, Massachusetts inside the beautiful J. A. Skinner State Park.  Although modest in size, the high quality of both the stone and the routes themselves make Skinner an excellent destination for a solid day of climbing.

These two southeast facing crags are comprised of basaltic traprock, the dominate stone of Connecticut climbing.  While most of the traprock in Massachusetts is highly fractured and heartbreakingly unclimbable – unlike Connecticut’s finer stone – some of this “Skinner stone” is bullet hard and quite challenging.  Those familiar with basalt will note the absence of grit or horizontal holds and the corresponding importance of side-pulls, underclings and body position. The two cliffs – a lower tier of hard, bolted routes and an upper tier of more moderate top rope problems – top out at 30 feet and yield perhaps 25 routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.13.

Parking

Park at the New England Trail (formerly M&M Trail) Head on Old Mountain Road in Hadley, MA. Enter this one-way, gravel road from the south where it intersects the eastern side of route 47 at the South Hadley and Hadley town line.  An old cemetary – on the western side of 47 – marks this intersection.  The trail head kiosk can be found about 100 yards down Old Mountain Road just before the power lines cross the road. Park on the right, well out of the travel lane.  This is a residential neighborhood so please behave accordingly.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

The New England Trail (NET) is currently undergoing maintenance! Sections of trail nearby the climbing are being rerouted. We will update this information as soon as it is available!

Sunbowl

*NO TRESPASSING SIGNS HAVE BEEN POSTED AT THE SUNBOWL. PLEASE RESPECT THIS CLOSURE AS WE WORK WITH THE LANDOWNER ON THIS IMPORTANT ACCESS ISSUE.

The aptly named Sunbowl is located in sleepy Sunderland, MA. Although the rock quality is fairly poor and the number of routes modest, the moderate grades, temperate micro-climate and easy access make this one of Western Massachusetts’s most popular crags for novice leaders or those seeking a quick workout.

As the name suggests, this southwest facing, wind-sheltered craglett is toasty on even cold winter afternoons – providing the sun is shining. However, ample tree cover offers shade in steamy summer days as well. The wall – approximately 35 feet tall and 150 feet long – is comprised of Mount Toby conglomerate and offers a maze of cobbles and pockets. Two slabby wings and a steep, central wall yield fewer than a dozen, well-protected sport routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.11. A long, V2 traverse offers a pumpy workout.

Parking

The parking lot lies just off Clark Mountain Road (CMR) in Sunderland.  Take 116 north from Amherst or south from Sunderland and turn east onto CMR.  This turn is just across 116 from a small strip mall containing a Dunkin Dounuts, a package store and a 7-11.  CMR passes a long term storage facility on the left and very close to a residence on the right before it deteriorates into a one-lane, unmaintained road.  (Four wheel drive is not usually necessary, but ample ground clearance is.)  Climb CMR for about two-tenths of a mile being careful not to drive off into the drainage swale on the right or collide with a descending vehicle.  Avoid the left hand turn near the top of the rise and instead turn right at the T intersection just beyond.  Continue for about one tenth of a mile through a few large puddles and park at the third pullout on the left near a small clearing in the woods.  The pullout is marked by a small fire ring and an old logging road branches off from a narrowing CMR.

Map


Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.

Trails

Walk past the fire ring and hike up the old logging road for about a half mile.  The road will cross over a small stream and begin to climb a modest grade.  As the road begins to level out, a small cairn marking a well worn climbers’ trail will appear on the left.  Hike a few hundred yards up this steeper trail and enter the cliff at the right side.  The best way by far to set up climbs is to lead them, but the top can be accessed by a trail around on the far left end.  Be extremely careful when traversing the top: the unstable footing and steep slope make leading much safer than setting a top rope.

Closures

 

Current issues

Aside from Mormon and Farley, no other Western Mass crag has suffered more during the frequent visits of a certain bolt chopper than the Sunbowl.  Thankfully, the roughly textured Mount Toby conglomerate hides these scars better than our beloved granitic gneiss.  Local climbers cleaned up most of the damage and replaced all of the anchors.  Although this is always difficult work, the porous and alarmingly soft nature of this rock made this task even more challenging.  These climbers opted for the security of glue-in anchors at the top of most of the climbs, but each climber should evaluate the soundness of each bolt for him or herself before clipping.