Located just seven miles from downtown Boston near the town of Melrose, the Middlesex Fells climbing crags offer a surprising variety of climbing for a place so close to the big city. Traditional rock climbing routes up to 80 ft long lead to hilltops with views of the Boston skyline on one side and expansive forest on the other. Low-angle cracks offer great practice for beginning leaders while steeper routes test the experienced climber. On a cold winter day you can even swing your ice tools into a short ice climb or scratch your way up a mixed route!
What Makes It Great
A variety of climbs in a semi-wild setting super close to town are what make Middlesex Fells fun. You really feel like you get a mini-alpine trip in your backyard here. You hike through the woods, rock or ice climb to the top of a hill, and are rewarded with a great view. Then you can hike back down and repeat! Sneak in a quick climb to watch sunrise before work, or sunset in the evening, and that makes the day.
Better yet, the crags are surprisingly uncrowded, and you’ll probably never have to wait in line.
Don’t have a car? No problem! The climbs are an easy walk from a T stop, and close enough to town to ride your bike to.
Who is Going to Love It
Climbers without cars, evening/after-work weekday climbers, and those looking to avoid the crowds will enjoy climbing at the Fells, though there’s something here for everyone.
Beginning leaders can practice on a progression of traditional climbing routes from Perfection (5.1) to Easy Off (5.4) to Twist and Crawl Wall (5.7) ranging from 40 ft to 80 ft. It’s even possible to break the longer lines into two mini pitches to get multipitch practice. Experienced climbers can test themselves on harder toprope climbs like Diet Ramp (5.10) and Too Thin (5.11).
The Fells also has what may be the closest ice climbing to Boston, so if it’s been well below freezing for a few days in town it’s worth sharpening the ice tools and checking to see if the Cascade next to the rock climbs has frozen up. If so, ice climbers will be rewarded with close to 40ft of WI2 ice, with mixed lines up to M5 nearby.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Drive or take the orange subway line to Oak Grove station in Malden. Walk or drive north on Washington Street for ½ mile, turn left on Goodyear Ave, and follow for 300ft to the dead end at the top of the hill. This is the edge of the Middlesex Fells reservation, with a few parking spaces available. The closest climbing crag (Crag 6) is a 5 minute hike up the trail to the right. This is where you’ll find the longest routes and the ice and mixed climbs. For the lower-angle beginner-friendly crack climbs follow the white-blazed Rock Circuit trail south from the top of Crag 6 for 0.25-0.5 miles. The crags are to the east of the trail.
For detailed climb descriptions, consult a copy of Boston Rocks.