7 of the Best Rock Climbing and Bouldering Areas Near Atlanta

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Climbing in and around Atlanta is mainly focused along the banks of the Chattahoochee River and in the boulder fields scattered around downtown. Although the area is a bit limited by geography, you won’t be bored if you take time to fully explore the climbing and bouldering areas in the heart of Atlanta's suburbs. With no shortage of diverse climbing and a host of bouldering problems that are accessible nearly 12 months of the year, the Atlanta area boasts plenty to keep you entertained. Whether you’re a beginner climber looking for an array of easy routes or a seasoned indoor climber wanting to hone your skills on some outdoor crags and boulders, these Atlanta rock climbing favorites, as rated and shared by the REI Mountain Project community, will not disappoint.

Allenbrook

    • Location: Roswell, GA in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area - Allenbrook, 22 miles north of Atlanta
    • Route Types: Top-roping and a few trad options
    • Difficulty: 5.6 to 5.12a
    • Best For: Top-roping on a blocky, slightly overhung cliff

      Allenbrook (Photo Credit: MP Contributor Will Eccleston)

Located near the historic Allenbrook House in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, this short, overhanging cliff is home to a handful of routes of varying difficulty that are fun to top rope. Beginners may test their mettle on Chode Route (5.7) which, after a crouching start, finishes with a straight climb up the face of the rock. For more of a challenge, check out Rumors Right (5.10b), a top-rope option that takes climbers up a V-slot on the cliff face. Rumors Roof (5.10b) shares a short section with Rumors Right and provides a trad variation that can be lead with small cams. For climbers looking to tackle a steeper route, Happy Hooker (5.12a) features a bouldery start leading to several more technical moves in the middle and near the top of the route. Climbers can use a top rope on all the routes at Allenbrook, providing ample opportunities to build strength and endurance during an afternoon of climbing.

Boat Rock

    • Location: Boat Rock Road, 13 miles west of downtown Atlanta
    • Route Types: Bouldering
    • Difficulty: V0 to V6
    • Best For: Slab bouldering with a few overhangs and crack problems

      A climber tackling a bouldering problem at Boat Rock.

      Boat Rock (Photo Credit: MP Contributor outdooreric)

One of the best-known bouldering spots in Atlanta, Boat Rock houses more than 100 bouldering problems. The sharp granite boulders in the area primarily lend themselves to slab problems, but there are a few crack problems and several overhanging areas that offer technical challenges, as well. The problems at Boat Rock necessitate spotters and a crash pad, but there are plenty of easy options for beginners or more advanced climbers who want to enjoy a quick outing with a few friends. Among the many problems, beginners can check out the top-rated Easy Crack (V0-) and Easy Crack Traverse (V1) for an introduction to bouldering on a crack problem. For a step up, Waves in Motion (V3-) presents climbers with a sloping boulder face with small pockets. Or, test your crack prowess on the aptly named Lost Digits (V3), a thin seam crack leading to a jugged finish. The top-rated Yellow Wall Arete (V4) is a fan favorite with some challenging crimps required to get you to the top.

Long Island

    • Location: Near Vinings, GA in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area - West Palisades, 11 miles north of Atlanta
    • Route Types: Bouldering and top-roping
    • Difficulty: V3+, 5.9-
    • Best For: Fitting in a quick climb with views of the Chattahoochee River

      A cliff formation at Long Island.

      Long Island (Photo Credit: MP Contributor BrendanN)

Located near a small cliff band at the southern end of the West Palisades Unit of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, this hidden gem features a handful of boulder problems, a bolted overhang and a large boulder formation with a bolt for top roping two different routes. Climbers can access the trail from the main parking lot on the west side of the river, where a wide pedestrian sidewalk crosses a bridge. Once over the bridge, a short trail leads to the cliff band. Although the area is small, it makes for a rewarding half-day outing or post-work excursion. For bouldering, check out The Odyssey (V3+), a sloping boulder that requires a few technical moves near the middle. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a top-rope route, The Iliad (5.9-) combines a small, slab-like section, a slight overhang and a smooth slab finish at the top.

The Palisades

    • Location: Sandy Springs, GA in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area - East Palisades, 13 miles north of Atlanta
    • Route Types: Bouldering, trad and top-roping
    • Difficulty: V0 to V5, 5.6 to 5.10a/b
    • Best For: Tackling a variety of bouldering, top-roping and trad climbing problems

      A climber on Haven in The Palisades.

      The Palisades (Photo Credit: MP Contributor Damien Kincannon)

This small cliff outcropping in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is more quiet and secluded than some of the other climbing spots along the river. Access to the area requires a short hike in, and climbers can park at the Whitewater Creek Trail or the East Palisade Trail entrance. The area features a mix of bouldering, top-roping and even a few trad options. For bouldering, the problems range in difficulty from the challenging triangular face of Chisel (V8) all the way up to the intimidatingly named Marietta Mangler (V10). For top-roping, Haven (5.10a/b), features a longer route with small crimps, ledges and pockets. Climbers can opt for the route straight up the center of the wall, or there is an alternate arete variation.

Panola Mountain

    • Location: Stockbridge, GA in Panola Mountain State Park, 19 miles southeast of Atlanta
    • Route Types: Bouldering
    • Difficulty: V0-V6
    • Best For: Getting your hands dirty on overhung routes, slab and crack problems

      Boulders in the woods at Panola Mountain State Park.

      Panola Mountain (Photo Credit: MP Contributor Spencer Malone)

Although it's smaller and not as popular as Boat Rock, Panola Mountain is a medium-size granite bouldering field that offers a range of problems of varying difficulties. Please be aware only some of the boulders at Panola are open for climbing, and Panola Mountain itself is not open for climbing. You should check in with the rangers at the Panola Mountain State Park Nature Center before heading out. Once at the boulder field, you have your choice of problems. You can start with a quick trip up Ms. Pac-Man is Always Right (V1-2) for an easy warm-up or an intro to bouldering. More advanced climbers won't want to miss The Granite Rose (V6), a classic problem featuring a standing start with tricky sloper/crimp start holds leading to a big side-pull rail to get you to the top. Don't stop there—the area features nearly 30 problems all within close proximity to one another.

Island Ford

    • Location: Sandy Springs, GA in the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area - Island Ford, 20 miles north of Atlanta
    • Route Types: Bouldering
    • Difficulty: V0 to V5
    • Best For: Accessing more than a dozen fun bouldering problems in a single afternoon

      Pancake Boulder at Island Ford.

      Island Ford (Photo Credit: MP Contributor Nick Knowles)

This bouldering area offers a variety of low- to mid-range problems, from pumpy overhangs to a few easier crack and friction problems. The boulders are found in a pleasant, easy-to-access forested setting along the river in the Island Ford Unit of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Beginners will enjoy Lock and Key (V2) and Skeleton Key (V2+) in the Sundrop Boulder area. More advanced climbers can head to Pancake Boulder to tackle Hooting Hotcakes (V5), a more technical problem that traverses across the lip of a slanted boulder. The problem ends with a mantle, where you’ll want a well-placed crash pad and a spotter for protection during the final move to get you to the top.

Yonah Mountain

    • Location: Sautee Nacoochee, GA, 85 miles north of Atlanta
    • Route Types: Trad, sport, top-roping and bouldering
    • Difficulty: V0 to V9, 5.4 to 5.11d
    • Best For: Escaping for an action-packed weekend of trad or sport climbing

      A climber at Yonah Mountain.

      Yonah Mountain (Photo Credit: MP Contributor Chris Hostetler)

For trad or sport climbing, the slightly longer drive to Yonah Mountain rewards you with a full day of climbing and an abundance of routes to choose from. Offering everything from bouldering and top-roping to trad and sport climbing, the granite dome of Yonah Mountain was once used by the U.S. Army for basic mountaineering training. The Main Face (5.4–5.12b) of Yonah is still visibly marked by this history as the bolted routes on the face of the mountain bear the remnants of spray painted numbers and colors that were once used to identify the training routes. This is an ideal spot for beginners to try top-roping on crowd favorites like Dihedral (5.6). More experienced climbers have an equally wide variety of routes to choose from, with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (5.10a) being one of the more popular trad routes on the Main Face. With something for everyone and options to camp nearby, Yonah Mountain offers an exceptional climbing experience that is well worth the trip.

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