A Complete Guide to Rock Climbing in the Cincinnati Area - Cutler Blog
June 13, 2018 |

A Complete Guide to Rock Climbing in the Cincinnati Area

If you’re looking for a fun activity that challenges both the mind and the body, rock climbing might be for you! The sport is fun for all ages (in fact, small children tend to excel due to their fearlessness and agility), so it’s a perfect hobby to get into as a family. The challenge can easily transform it into a lifelong passion. In fact, many frequent climbers will work on a route for weeks until they finally find a way to complete it — and the satisfaction at the top is second to none!

The sport of rock climbing has been around since the 1880s, but has experienced an intense spike in popularity over the past few decades. In recent years, we have seen more dedicated rock climbing gyms opening their doors and more designated outdoor climbing spots becoming available for outdoor climbing enthusiasts. We rounded up the best gyms, outdoor climbing areas and tours to get your climbing journey started in Cincinnati and the surrounding area. Have fun out there!

 

INDOOR CLIMBING GYMS

RockQuest Climbing Center

Facebook | Instagram | 3475 East Kemper Road, Cincinnati

RockQuest is the oldest climbing facility in Cincinnati (created in 1995). It had a fundamental role in spurring passion for the sport in the Queen City! The gym features more than 15,000 square feet of climbing space and caters to beginners and experts alike. The staff make you feel like part of the family — and indeed, many Cincinnati climbers consider the gym a home away from home! Get an introductory belay class and an entire week of climbing (with gear rentals) for just $35!

 

Climb Time of Blue Ash

Facebook | Instagram | 10898 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati

Reach new heights in your climbing game at Climb Time! This climbing gym is located just outside Cincinnati in Blue Ash and is one of the most highly regarded facilities in the region. The 7,000-square foot space features mostly bouldering routes, but there is also a good selection of top rope options. The gym caters to beginners and advanced climbers alike and all of your gear can be purchased (or rented) at the shop on site. If this is one of your first times climbing, you can take a one hour introductory belay class for just $10. Family memberships are also just $90 per month with one or two kids.

 

The University of Cincinnati

Facebook | Instagram | 2820 Bearcat Way, Cincinnati

The Campus Recreation Center’s climbing wall at the University of Cincinnati offers six different top rope climbing areas and a bouldering area — each with endless routes and possibilities to get to the top. Climbers of all levels will love challenging themselves in the 2,000 square feet of climbing space! It’s a great way to build confidence and foster teamwork while getting a great workout at the same time. You can rent the entire wall for a company outing, team-building event or birthday party, and all the harness and shoe rentals are completely free.

 

Climb Cincy (Coming Soon!)

Facebook | Instagram | 1700 Blue Rock Street, Cincinnati

Climb Nulu

Photo of the Climb Nulu Facility (Climb Cincy’s sister gym) courtesy of Climb Nulu

Climb Cincy will join the local climbing community in the coming weeks, offering quality routes and challenges, access for all ages and skill levels, and convenient, affordable services to the Northside community. The staff at Climb Cincy is passionate about the art of climbing, and the route setters will make it their goal to create new, inventive and challenging routes regularly

 

Mosaic Climbing (Coming Soon!)

Facebook | Instagram | 9501 Union Cemetery Road, Loveland

Mosaic Climbing (coming this fall to Loveland) will offer a modern take on rock climbing, emphasizing the gym’s social aspect and designing their routes for functional training. The gym is being designed for climbers by climbers with tons of routes and variation to encourage what they call experimental movement. After all, how would you learn if you just climb the same routes over and over again?

 

OUTDOOR CLIMBING OPTIONS

Eden Park

Distance from Cincinnati: Located in downtown Cincinnati

Eden Park boasts a 25 foot tall, 400 foot long reservoir wall that is perfect for climbing practice. You can set up top ropes along the length of the wall, so it’s a great place for beginners to learn what outdoor climbing is all about! If you’re more of the bouldering type, you’ll find several routes ranging from V0 to V5.

 

John Bryan State Park

Distance from Cincinnati: 1 hour, 25 minutes

The steep limestone cliffs at John Bryan State Park make it a desirable spot for climbing enthusiasts to come and test their skills. The designated rock climbing sites in the park were identified in 1992 and offer a variety of challenges as well as views of the picturesque landscape. In fact, John Bryan State Park is known as one of the most stunning parks in the state, especially when it comes to viewing fall foliage! Only top rope climbing and rappelling is allowed in this area — neither lead climbing nor bouldering is permitted. As with all outdoor climbing, you should make sure to bring your own safety equipment. You can find more information about climbing at John Bryan State Park here.

It’s also one of the 15 best places to go camping in Ohio, so why not make a weekend out of it?

 

Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve Climbing Area

Distance from Cincinnati: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Mad River Gorge

Photo courtesy of Courtney Curtner via the Ohio Climbers Coalition

Located just west of Springfield, Ohio, the Mad River Gorge is one of western Ohio’s newest outdoor climbing havens, as it just opened in May of 2017 by the Ohio Climbers Coalition. It’s a fantastic option for outdoor climbing within driving distance from the Queen City, and is still expanding through efforts of volunteers and the Clark County Park District. Routes and bolting have been done by the MRG Climbing Committee, and they maintain a database to make sure that the routes are well-maintained and safe for climbers!

If you would like to volunteer to help clean up and trail development efforts in the Mad River Gorge area, contact the Ohio Climbers Coalition.

 

Red River Gorge

Distance from Cincinnati: 2 hours, 20 minutes

It might be a bit of a trek from Cincinnati, but the two hour drive to Red River Gorge is well worth it for experienced climbers. Spread across a wide expanse of national forest land, the park features spectacular sandstone cliffs and breathtaking vistas — making it one of the most popular climbing areas in the Midwest. Anyone looking to get a taste of true outdoor climbing will love the 5.9 rated route, Send Me on My Way. But you should also make sure to check out Chimney Top Rock, Caver’s Route and Tower Deck. After tackling your route, stop by the legendary Miguel’s Pizza to refuel — you’ll find a climbing gear store attached to the restaurant.

Use this guide from Mountain Project to find the best routes for your skill level.

 

Hocking Hills

Distance from Cincinnati: 2 hours, 26 minutes

Hocking Hills

Photo courtesy of the Ohio Climbers Coalition

Hocking Hills is one of the most popular summer vacation destinations in Ohio, and with such spectacular scenery and hiking opportunities available throughout the park, we aren’t the least bit surprised. Rock climbers will also love the several designated climbing areas, including Amazing Grace (a popular top climbing route that can be accessed by the Buckeye Trail) and Workout Wall (best for bouldering). Climbing on Hocking Hills landmarks that have not been designated (like Old Man’s Cave) is prohibited, so make sure to check out this page before planning your trip.

 

CLIMBING TOURS

Trek Network

If you’re looking to learn the ropes of climbing outside, but aren’t ready to go solo quite yet, reach out to the Trek Network! The local guides are experts at both indoor and outdoor climbing and can guide you on a complete outdoor climbing and rappelling adventure in Ohio’s spectacular outdoors. Near Cincinnati, the company offers tours in John Bryan State Park, the Mad River Gorge and Hocking Hills.

 

Climb on!

Cutler Marketing Team

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