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Laurel Knob

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Climbing Sections:

About Laurel Knob:

A spectacular granite dome, Laurel Knob is the tallest crag east of the Mississippi. For many years, it was officially closed to climbers, though that never stopped those who were determined to climb there. Then in 2006, the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) pulled off a stunning coup by purchasing Laurel Knob and opening it to the public.

Though there are a number of excellent moderate routes here, Laurel Knob is not a good destination for inexperienced climbers. The approach trail is long (with potential for getting lost), and routes are up to 12 pitches in length, requiring good leading and anchoring skills. And like many other North Carolina crags, the runouts can be intimidating if you're not good on friction.

PROTECTION: A standard rack with pro up to 3" is normal (some routes need bigger gear and are noted). Bring two 60m ropes and bail gear. Many belays are bolted, but be prepared to build gear anchors.

Currently, the CCC is at work on a management plan for Laurel Knob (updates can be found at A tremendous amount of effort has gone into assuming ownership of this crag, so if you're going to climb here, please respect the CCC's rules! The most important of these are:

* No access except through the Panthertown trail system
* No new bolting without CCC approval

In addition to more detailed information on regulations, a handy mini-guide to Laurel Knob can be found at the CCC web site.
Nearest town or city: Cashiers valley
Directions: The long and strenuous approach trail begins at the Panthertown parking lot/camping area. Allow at least an hour and a half from the car to the crag.

NOTE: This trail is the only legal access to Laurel Knob. If you come in from the valley below -- no matter who you're friends with -- you are trespassing!

Hike down the road toward Panthertown valley. Take a hard right onto the first single-track trail. After another half mile, the trail goes straight down a short slab. Continue down a short, steep section passing a nice water fall on your right.

The trail soon levels nicely and after several more minutes, there is a fork with a rusted logging cable between the forks. Take the right hand fork. Eventually you’ll climb down a short slab (a fixed rope may or may not be in place) and cross the creek just before intersecting another old road. Remember this intersection for the return hike. Take a right on the road and follow it for about a half mile to a fork. Take the right fork and follow that for another third of a mile to Deep Gap and a gravel road. This road is private property.

Take a right on the gravel for about 50 feet then leave the road and start hiking a vague trail up the ridge along the left edge of a rhododendron thicket. You are looking for a blue property corner marker located roughly 200' from the road. The corner marker is located between two USFS boundary trees (red paint and small yellow signs). Also, look for blue flagging. From the corner marker, the trail heads southwest following the straight line of the easement boundary line. You will contour across a mossy stream and about 100 yards of mossy slab. PLEASE: TREAD LIGHTLY ON THE MOSS PADS. This is a fragile area, so walk on bare rock whenever possible.

Soon the slab becomes steep and the trail makes a short switchback left into the woods, then back right, following along the edge of a laurel and rhododendron thicket. You will see a gravel road in the gap to your left. Do not hike near or onto that road. That is all private property and will soon be someone’s $2.6 million summer home. Pass the CCC info kiosk on the right, and continue on the pink flagged trail. After another 100 yards, the trail begins the 600-foot descent down many switchbacks to the very base of the main face of Laurel Knob.
Latitude, Longitude: 35.14700, -83.07280
Access Issues:
When to Climb:
Quantity of Climbs: Year

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Forum Discussions (10 posts)

  Subject Author Replies Last Post
With Replies Is Laurel Knob for me? sillywilly98 11 Dec 13 2012, 1:50 AM
With Replies Bolt Chopping @ Laurel Knob Becknology 3 Jun 29 2009, 1:51 PM
With Replies Laurel Knob Rack Suggestions Tipton 8 Feb 13 2009, 5:18 PM
No Replies Management Plan scfunhog 0 Feb 27 2007, 11:17 PM
With Replies Stranded Climbers Rescued at Laurel Knob saxfiend 2 Jan 01 2007, 12:09 AM
No Replies Draft Laurel Knob Management Plan saxfiend 0 Nov 16 2006, 4:30 PM
With Replies What town is Laurel Knob near? fitzontherocks 5 Oct 25 2006, 9:15 PM
With Replies Laurel Knob Open? daled 5 May 02 2006, 9:16 PM
With Replies Groover stinky_lizard 1 May 22 2006, 7:43 PM
With Replies Routes at the Knob eellis 1 Jul 06 2006, 4:43 AM