Previously known as the “Shades Crest Boulders,” or just “the boulderfields”, Moss Rock Preserve has been visited and developed by highly revered climbers throughout the last forty years. The future of the preserve and its boulders came into question in the early 2000s, but was saved by the advocacy of local climbers and conservation groups. Prior to just a few short years ago, the preserve was mainly used by climbers as a secret refuge from the hectic city, now you’ll find hikers, trail-runners, boy scout groups, and families using the trails while watching climbers in stunned intrigue. What Moss Rock Preserve lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. There are a few handfuls of classic boulder problems with everything from sketchy sloping mantles, delicate balancing on tiny crimps, overhangs, roofs, and scary highballs, all on the South’s famous sandstone in a beautiful setting.
What Makes It Great
While the preserve is littered with boulders throughout the park, the highest concentration of established boulder problems is located in the central, southernmost area, about a hundred yards from the parking lot and trailhead on Preserve Parkway. It’s probably the easiest approach a climber could ask for. Most of the problems are moderate to difficult, ranging in the V4 to V8 range, though there are a number of easier problems for beginners, and even a few harder ones upwards of V10. All of the rock is the same high-quality, sticky sandstone that the region is known for. A lot of landing areas have been groomed and maintained over the years, offering mostly safe landings and space to put down a crashpad without destroying plant-life. In addition, there is one boulder that stands about 30 feet tall, aptly named The Bolt Boulder, with a few bolts to create a top-rope anchor for a few short-but-fun 5.10 routes.
Despite the preserve often being misused for teenage mischief, evidenced by unfortunate graffiti on many of the rocks, the park offers a beautiful and relaxing setting for anything from a quick workout, to full-day, or even multi-day, climbing experience. Just down the hill from the central bouldering area is the gently flowing Hurricane Creek, and crossing it leads to a rare ecosystem called a sandstone glade, one of only 35 in the world. There are no restrooms or other facilities in the preserve, so bring water or water filter and food, and the nearest camping is 15 minutes away in Oak Mountain State Park.
Who is Going to Love It
Any boulderer will enjoy their time at Moss Rock Preserve, but it’s most suited to intermediate climbers with the strength to climb V2 and up. Beginner climbers will be limited, but with plenty of rock to play on, new problems suited to individual strengths and skillsets can be made-up on the spot.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking for direct access to the boulders is located on Preserve Parkway, at the rear of the affluent neighborhood also known as The Preserve. A spacious parking lot funnels into the obvious trail that leads climbers to the boulders in only a few minutes. Moss Rock is open daily from sunrise to sunset.