Fathom - Climbing

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Fathom climbs a huge right leaning dihedral in Laurel Knob.

Written by

Park Baker


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

22.3 miles


5 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

The hike alone will take around 4-5 hours roundtrip.


Fall and Winter

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


Land Website

Fathom Climbing



Laurel Knob is located near Panthertown Valley, west of Brevard. This is one of the tallest (if not THE tallest) crags in the eastern US. It is owned by the Carolina Climbers Coalition, and their rules should be followed when on their property. 

What Makes It Great

NOTE: The Panterhtown 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. At the first intersection with another old road, take a right and continue about 10-15 minutes to a creek crossing (Frolictown Creek). Ford the creek and hike another mile or so to a fork. Take the right fork (the smaller trail) and after another 10 minutes or so, be on the lookout for a trail that angles up and right from the main trail. This should be marked by a small wooden sign saying "Laurel Knob."  Continue on this winding trail through the woods, crossing a stream on a log and past the marked corner of the property line between the CCC property and that of the forest service. Follow pink and/or blue flagged markers and cross over a mossy slab. 

Before long, you'll see a gravel road and buildings to the left; this is private property. Stick to the trail; continue past the CCC kiosk and down a steep 600' series of switchbacks to the base of the main Laurel Knob face.  At this point, you should come out on a well-groomed trail put in place by the Lonesome Valley development. Continue along this trail until you reach the small clearing at the base of the direct start of Seconds. From here, the Lonesome Valley trail goes down and left; the climbers' trail goes uphill from Seconds and continues along the cliff base.

From MountainProject.com: "Fathom climbs a huge right leaning dihedral, right in the middle of Laurel Knob, to what some have called the ultimate water groove.  Pitches 1 - 5(ish) climb along the leaning dihedral sometimes using the crack and sometimes using the face. Along the way there are a couple of bolted anchors and a couple of gear anchors. The money pitch climbs up through the water groove with bolts for protection.  From here, the easiest thing to do is rappel. Several double rope rappels straight down will lead you to the ground. There are other options as well. One is heading up and right. The other is the Hone Ranger finish which goes straight up."

Who is Going to Love It

Laurel Knob is a remote area with serious multi-pitch climbing. It is not a place for inexperienced climbers. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get in and out before dark.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Laurel Knob is in the Cashiers Valley. Make your way to the town of Cashiers and take US 64 east of the town. Continue two or three miles to Cedar Creek Road and take a right (north). Follow this winding road into the hills until it intersects with Breedlove Road; take a right here and continue past Christmas tree farm fields for several miles. The road changes to gravel and ends in the Panthertown trailhead parking lot. This is the starting point for the long and strenuous hike in to Laurel Knob. Allow about two hours for the hike in and up to three hours for the hike out.

Laurel Knob is owned by the Carolina Climbers Coalition, which is working hard to maintain good relations with neighboring landowners. If you're going to climb here, you MUST respect and follow the CCC rules, which can be found at www.carolinaclimbers.org

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Nantahala National Forest
Cashiers, NC, 28717
35.111906, -83.099635

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