Hurricane Creek Climbing

I can't say enough about this little park. There is so much packed into so little space. It's an amazing place to spend a day even if you don't climb.

I don't even remember how I found out about the place but I stopped to check it out on a weekday afternoon while traveling back from Huntsville. At one time it had required a day pass to get in and had a permanent staff. Now it's free and unstaffed, so I didn't expect much.

The gatehouse is still there but empty except for the cobwebs filling the windows. The parking lot was gravel and nice, but totally empty except for me. Just past the gatehouse, I found the remnants of a cable car ride (it looked more like a mine car) that lowered people from the upper ridge to the base of the canyon. I felt like I was walking into somewhere that had been long forgotten. The natural version of a ghost town.

The trail splits in multiple directions as soon as you step onto it. I chose to follow the trail right, which was made of steep rail tie steps that followed the cable car remnants straight down the canyon. The payoff at the bottom was immediate. After a very short hike along the base of the crag, you are met with a massive, and stunning, overhanging roof.

 The roof, facing back toward the trailhead.

The roof, facing back toward the trailhead.

As you approach the end of the accessible part of the crag on that side of the canyon, you'll find the "Stairway To Heaven". It's another rail tie staircase, but this one is built into a seem in the crag just wide enough for a human body. It's steep and usually wet and leads to the trail at the top of the crag.

Below the crag is a beautiful stream that runs through the middle of the small canyon. (There is a crag on the other side too) Someone has built a small dam which has created a great little swimming hole that we have seen people enjoying on our later trips to the park to climb.

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Did someone say climbing? As the story goes, one of the original employees was a climbing enthusiast who envisioned the park as a training ground. There is a slab that varies in height from 30-40ish feet tall at a slight angle. It was set up nicely with multiple rap rings along the top, and a nice wooden platform at the bottom. It as a handful of top rope anchored routes along its length that progress in difficulty ending with a bolted route at the end for the first time lead climber. You can tell it was well thought out and would still be great if not for moss and dirt all over the routes. At one time, I imagine this was a fantastic place to learn. While its still fun, the routes are filthy and scary slippery when damp.

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 Jon braving the ice-like moss on the bolted portion of the slab.

Jon braving the ice-like moss on the bolted portion of the slab.

There are maybe a dozen bolted/anchored routes in the park. They're all on the same side of the canyon as the park entrance. Some routes have rap rings on top of the crag. Most routes have shuts as anchors. There are a few bolted routes, but the first anchor of at least 1 of them is 20' off the ground. There are ample trees for natural anchors and infinite opportunity for first ascents. I'm not sure anything has ever been climbed on the other side of the park. If so, it's not documented anywhere I can find.

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Every route is dirty, there seem to be spiders on every hold if not moss and water, and nothing is taller than 60-70',

BUT...

This place is just fun! It's a tiny little oasis in the middle of nowhere and you won't have to fight a crowd even on weekends. If you're tired of the same old crag and want to mix it up, Hurricane Creek may be worth checking out. If not for the climbing, for the natural beauty.