We have been busy since the beginning of the year 2019 with a few family emergencies. Spring break was a great opportunity to get away for a family climbing road trip. In the past years, our kids’ climbing coaches organized a climbing trip during spring break. They planned a trip to Horsepen 40 this year.
Horsepen 40 is a great place. Unfortunately, it has only bouldering. My husband and I enjoy climbing with ropes a lot more. Although I do enjoy occasional bouldering, I still prefer top rope or lead sport climbing. Luckily, my son’s coach wanted to expose the team kids to outdoor rope climbing. Most of our outdoor trips in the past were primarily bouldering. He shared with us about Sand Rock. It is about 43.6 miles away from Horsepen 40 and has sport climbing. So it was another promising adventure.
History of Sand Rock Alabama
I looked up more information about Sand Rock Alabama climbing before and after our trip. I found a little of the history and great information at https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105905184/sand-rock and Dixie Cragger’s Atlas. Sand Rock is known by local people as “Little Rock City” or by climbers as “Sand Rock”. Sand Rock is located in Leesburg, Alabama. It is in Cherokee Rock Village County. If you type in “Cherokee Rock Village” in the GPS, it will take you directly to Sand Rock Park. The address is 2000 County Road 70, Leesburg, AL 35983, email@example.com, (256) 523-3799. Here is their website:
Climbers have been climbing Sand Rock since the early 1970s before there was a road to the location. It was also a destination for ATV riders and drunken late-night partiers at one time. Lots of broken beer bottles overturned porta-potties, and spray-painted graffiti was left by the visitors.
However, with the combined effort of Cherokee County Park, the volunteers from the community, the support of the Southeastern Climber’s Coalition (SCC), and Access Fund Partner, Sand Rock improved tremendously. Sand Rock became a county park. The graffiti was cleaned up in 2015 and 2016 by community volunteers. The park now has on-site managers.
Sand Rock is a popular place for climbing with the unique tall rock formation. It is a great place for bird watching and geocaching. There are 14 miles of hiking, equestrian, and mountain biking trails. It has primitive camping, a pavilion, picnic area, playground, and a heated bathhouse.
What I really like about Sand Rock is that I did not have to hike very far to the climbing area. The walk is about 100 feet from my car. I can totally appreciate the convenience. It is a great destination for climbers at different skill levels. There are easy top rope routes, fun challenging sport or trad routes, and a great place for easy trad routes as well. They also have a plethora of good bouldering problems.
The Cherokee County Parks and Recreation Board did an amazing job restoring and maintaining Sand Rock. I was quite impressed with how clean the site was when I visited. The park served many groups and people in the community and visitors like myself. It was great to see everyone having a fun time.
Please visit their website for the park rules and latest usage fee – https://www.ccparkboard.com/rules-fees/. Currently, the fees are the following:
Daily Use Fee – $6 per vehicle for standard cars and trucks
$12 per vehicle for passenger vans
$15 for buses
Camping Fee – $15 per vehicle for standard cars and trucks
$20 per vehicle for passenger vans
$25 for RVs and buses
Annual Parking Pass – $35 for passenger vehicles which includes half-price camping
$50 for passenger vans and buses
Please help support keep the park clean when you visit. Leave no trace behind (only your footprints) and pick up other trash that you see along your path even though they are not yours. Help keep the park clean so that we all can come back and enjoy it.
Where To Stay?
We camped at HP40 and drove to Sand Rock. The distance was about 43.6 miles. It took us an hour to get to Sand Rock. In past years, we met up with the climbing team at HP40 and only bouldered. I did not know much about Sand Rock until now. Sand Rock does provide campsites. We will definitely camp at Sand Rock the next time we visit. Their camping site is primitive. There is a bathhouse with hot water. It would be helpful to bring extra water for your stay.
One nice thing is that dogs are allowed at Sand Rock. However, they need to be on a leash and always clean up after your pets. Please review https://www.ccparkboard.com/rules-fees/ for park rules.
There are hotels and lodging in the nearby locations such as Centre, 411 Bypass, Cedar Bluff, and Sand Rock. Please visit the website under services for more information:https://www.ccparkboard.com/services/.
What Did I Climb?
We climbed at Sand Rock for two days. On the first day, our friend set up a top rope by the lead up a trad route called the “Standard Route” on the north side of Tower (Pinnacle). It was graded at 5.6. It was a fun route with a beautiful view on the top. This route is great for beginning climbers and a nice warm-up. My friend then transferred the rope over to the east end of the Pinnacle. He set it up as a top rope on a route called Pin Chimney, graded at 5.8. It was a very tall route, perhaps more than 60 feet tall. It took me a while to get up to the top huffing and puffing. I had fun nonetheless including an amazing practice for endurance. Our gym was barely 30 feet tall so this was great practice. Meanwhile, our kids with the team coach climbed more challenging routes 5.10 – 5.11 such as the Pigs in Zen and/or Gravy Train. I also had a chance to climb another graded 5.8 route. It was so much fun.
We left the top rope at Pin Chimney for other team members to climb. By 2 pm, the rope somehow got stuck at the top and wouldn’t budge. Ugh!!! Now we had to find a way to get the rope down. Luckily, there was another climber who wanted to practice her trad climbing up “Standard Route”. She was willing to help us loosen the rope from the top of our route once she got to the top. Another aspect of climbing that I love was meeting friendly, helpful, and down-to-earth climbers along the way.
Our second day of climbing at Sand Rock was on a Saturday. The park was crowded with church groups, scouts, and many other climbers. Our friend who had the trad gear was not with us. He climbed with other friends somewhere else. My first thought was “Uh Oh, it is crowded. I hope it’s not a mistake coming here.” However, it was quite contrary to my first impression. There were enough sport routes available. Our waiting time was not too long. We set up some top ropes for our Russian friends to warm upon. We later found a fun 5.9- called “My Dog Has Fleas”. I got to lead on that. Wahoo!!! I also climbed “Walking the Dog”, “Kennel Club”, and “Cinco de Mayo”. I was proudest of “Cinco de Mayo”. It was a 5.10c/d. There was a small roof incline which was challenging. I top roped and finished at the top. Wahoo!!! “Cinco de Mayo” was the most popular route that day. All the team kids were climbing beasts. Our coach teased and called them the Beast Whisperers.
You can find a list of routes for Sand Rock online at MountainProject.com or more details in a book called Dixie Cragger’s Atlas from Amazon.
My Final Thoughts
There are multiple cliffs with interesting names and plenty of routes at a variety of levels. We spent two full days at Sand Rock and I think we climbed only parts of the Holiday Block and the Pinnacle cliffs. I would definitely love to come back and explore some more. There are many positive reasons why I would love to come back. Here are a few:
- Dogs are allowed. Yes, you guessed it. I would like to bring my doggy.
- There’s a bathhouse with hot water so we can camp within our budget. We will need to bring extra water.
- We do not have to travel too far from the parking lot to the climbing area. Climbers smiled as they walked in flip-flops from their cars to climbing destinations. I’ve been to climbing areas before where we have to walk for more than a mile to rappel down a rope, walk under a small waterfall, and climb up strenuous hills to arrive at the destination. Although it was fun it took time away from my climbing. Not to mention, we also got lost for several hours because we often followed the wrong trail.
- There are plenty of challenging sport routes available for us to explore. We do not need to have trad gear. When we come back to Sand Rock, we will certainly camp, stay at the park, and spend the time to climb instead of traveling.
I hope this article has been useful for exploring outdoor climbing locations. I totally recommend climbers to check Sand Rock out at least once. I think it is worth a trip.
Have you been to Sand Rock before? I love to hear it. Also, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to leave me a note below. I would love to hear your thoughts. I shall get back with a reply within 24 hours.