The Coopers Rock climbing area at Coopers Rock State Forest overlooks the canyon of the Cheat River and is a popular crag among the many climbers who attend West Virginia University in nearby Morgantown, West Virginia. Its low cliffs are high-quality gritstone and afford spectacular views of the canyon. The area boasts the highest concentration of bouldering climbs in West Virginia and some of the Mountain State’s most accessible top-rope and short-lead routes.
Unique among climbing areas in West Virginia, its cliffs and boulders are composed of Upper Connoquenessing Sandstone, a “gritstone” which outcrops famously elsewhere in West Virginia at Blackwater Falls and atop Spruce Knob, the state’s highest peak. Many shallow features on the rock face may be easily gripped as a result of the sandstone’s coarse texture. Several crack climbs and bolt-protected sport climbs ascend the cliffs, which rise no more than 35 feet, but the endless quantity of boulder climbs attracts the majority of climbers.
Climbing access has been granted within Coopers Rocks State Forest by the W.Va. Division of Forestry, though the sport had been prohibited following a fatal climbing accident in the mid-1980s and as a result of ecological concerns. The climbing area is patrolled by rangers who strictly enforce regulations. Climbing is prohibited in the overlook area, and climbers are required to sign-in at the climbing station kiosk at the end of the park access road.
Access to Coopers Rock Climbing Area
Coopers Rock State Forest is located off I-68 at exit 15. The climbing area is easily accessible from May 1 until December 1, after which the forest’s overlook and pavillion area and the climbing area are closed to unauthorized vehicles. Climbers must then walk the forest road from the gate to the climbing area, a three-mile trek. In summer and fall, climbers may otherwise easily drive to the graveled climbing-access parking area near the overlook parking area.
Map showing Coopers Rock Climbing Area
Lodging near Coopers Rock
Content sponsored by New River Climbing School