“The Forks” is a household name among Flagstaff trad climbers. This place is known for its beautiful but stout lines, great rock quality, and of course—cracks. The routes are single pitch and access requires rappelling in from above, then climbing out. Anchors are all natural, with trees being the most useful. There are few beginner-level routes, so this is the place for experienced climbers to work on honing their skills. It is located in the national forest just south of Williams, AZ less than 1-hour drive from Flagstaff. Free dispersed camping makes The Forks a great weekend destination.
What Makes It Great
Paradise Forks is aptly named. The crag is formed by the Y-shaped head of Sycamore Canyon—a nearly untouched wilderness that begins here and extends for miles, gouging deeply into the Mogollon Rim all the way down into the Verde Valley. During the fall, you will really be climbing in Paradise as the canyon’s foliage dawns its colors. At the top of each ‘fork’ is a waterfall—Gold Falls and Silver Falls. These flow spectacularly with seasonal rains.
When you come to the Forks, be prepared for stout and thrilling climbing. If you are not used to the style, routes will feel tough for the grade. Everything is natural protection and natural anchors only, though the rock is solid and generally takes gear well, and sturdy trees make for good anchors on the canyon rim. The routes, which range from 5.8 to 5.13 with the majority in the 5.10-12 range, offer a lot of varied crack climbing, but also stemming to face climbing.
Come for the afternoon or for the weekend. At a bit less than one hour from Flagstaff along I-40 and Forest Service roads, this is an easy and worthwhile trip. Dispersed camping is available along the road or right on the canyon’s edge with a short hike in.
Who is Going to Love It
The Forks is a favorite of Flagstaff’s diehard trad climbers, but people of all abilities can find something here as well. While most routes are harder, there are a handful in the 5.8-5.9+ range that are great for beginner climbers. Top-down access means that just about any route can be easily top-roped, which is great for projecting hard routes or exploring unknown terrain. This is not just a place for Flagstaff locals, either. The Forks is becoming an increasingly popular destination for traveling climbers who add it to their list of must-do Northern Arizona rock climbing.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take I-40 Exit 178 for Garland Prairie Road. Follow this dirt road south until the 4-way intersection with FR 109. Turn left on FR 109 and take for 2 miles until the Sycamore Falls trailhead parking on the left. There is no fee for parking. Camping is not allowed near the parking area but you can camp in clearings along the road in either direction, or right above the crag by hiking in a little ways. Access the crags by following the trail downhill. Siver Pond, Pillow Wall, and Davidson Wall are to the left, Gold Pond area is to the right, and The Prow area is straight ahead.