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Melrose Mountain Climbing Area (Tryon, NC)

Land Manager: Town of Tryon

Area Rep: Shannon Millsaps:

Access: In 2019, the CCC worked with the Town of Tryon and Blue Ridge Adventure Guides to negotiate public climbing access at Melrose Mountain. Thank you Town of Tryon and BRAG!  The two climbing areas are located on Hogback Mountain Road, about 8 miles outside of Tryon's downtown. The two separate areas are less than a mile apart from each other. The cliffs are owned by the Town of Tryon. While the existing foot path is unsustainable for long term use (please tread lightly), the CCC and BRAG are working to coordinate grant funding and volunteer assistance to build sustainable trails for easier public access. Parking is limited to road shoulders on non-residential properties, and tentative permission has been granted for parking (~5 cars) on a private property at 3450 Hogback Mountain Road.  Do not park on the western (left) side of this lot, which would block owner access to Mountain Water’s Inc system controls and compromise parking permission.   Due to close proximity of homes to parking locations, please do not loiter and keep quiet until you’re below the cliff.  Practice leave no trace ethics (pack in/pack out) and please notify CCC or BRAG if you observe deviations from these instructions and the Climbing Management Plan below. Current hazards include a very steep approach, loose debris, overhead rockfall potential, scorpions, snakes, bears, and poison ivy.


Melrose Mountain Climbing Management Plan

Prepared by the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) and Blue Ridge Adventure Guides (BRAG). Approved by the Town of Tryon/ May 2019


Table of Contents:

  1. Climbing Management Plan Goals

  2. Melrose Mountain Climbing Park Introduction

  3. Rock Climbing and Bouldering at Melrose Mountain  

  4. Location and Parking

  5. Approach Trails

  6. Climber Safety

  7. Fixed Anchors Policy

  8. Fixed Anchors Requirements

  9. Route Development

  10. Leave No Trace

  11. Vegetation or Rock Removal

  12. Instructional Use


1.Climbing Management Plan Goals

1a. Preserve the natural resources found at Melrose Mountain while providing for recreational climbing activities.

1b. Create a plan for public climbing access.

1c. Present a clearly defined set of regulations for climbing at Melrose Mountain that will encourage responsible climbing activity.  


2. Melrose Mountain Climbing Park Introduction

Melrose Mountain is accessed via Hogback Mountain Rd in Tryon, NC. The mountain contains several homes on each of its slopes, but the south facing cliffs and boulders of Melrose Mountain are located on land that is undevelopable and owned by the Town of Tryon. The area offers expansive views into South Carolina’s Blue Wall Preserve. The park has potential to be desirable to more than just climbers, if hiking trails were installed. The most desirable attractions of this potential park are it’s cliffs and boulders, but the views, streams, and large forested hillsides on the property could also make an attractive spot for visiting non-climbers.  The rock type is a biotite augen gneiss that would be attractive for geology buffs and climbers alike. There are two sections of cliffs and boulders, which we refer to as East and West Areas. These two sections each have their own existing parking pull offs and the two sections could be connected via a future trail system if desired.


3. Rock Climbing and Bouldering at Melrose Mountain  

3a. Rock climbing: Rock climbing routes exist on rock faces that are too tall or steep to safely ascend without a rope. There is potential for 25-50 climbing routes in total between the East and West cliffs, with varying difficulty levels and varying heights. Currently, there are about a dozen routes established in the 5.7-5.11 range; top rope, trad, mixed, and sport. The climbing cliffs range from 30-90 feet tall. The rock is highly featured and ranges from sub vertical to overhanging.  Climbers will enjoy the large hand holds, cracks, aretes, and roofs that the area offers. Beginning climbers and advanced climbers will enjoy the varying features of the cliffs. Rock quality ranges from soft and poor to bullet hard, and soft rock should be avoided. Although some routes will take natural protection, many routes may need fixed anchors to protect the majority of the routes at Melrose Mountain. The majority of the routes at Melrose will also be top accessible, meaning parties who only wish to top rope routes can do so for several routes. 

3b. Bouldering: Bouldering routes (known as “problems”) exist on boulders that are 8-18 feet tall. Boulderers often use bouldering pads and a spotter for fall protection.  Between the two parks, there are approximately 20-25 boulders that appear attractive for climbing, with potential for 100 problems. The boulders are scattered throughout the East and West areas.


4. Location and Parking

Parking for both the East and West areas may occur on Town of Tryon property on the south side of Hogback Mountain Road. Both areas have existing pull outs that are sufficient for parking.  Additionally, permission to park on private property owned by Mountain Water Inc. has been granted by the property owner. If parking here, please do not block access to the water well. While permission to park on the Mountain Water Inc property is in place, Mountain Water Inc assumes no responsibility for people, animals or vehicles utilizing the parking area on their property. ​


5. Approach

The West Side Cliff trail construction has been started by the CCC and BRAG. The East Cliff does not have a trail and it is a difficult approach. See map.  Depending on the user-group intended for each access trail, contract work or additional volunteer partners may be needed to construct trail.  


6. Climber Safety

Responsibility for safe climbing rests solely with the individual climber. All climbers are strongly encouraged to be self-sufficient and possess the appropriate first aid, partner, and self rescue skills. Climbers are encouraged to carry equipment necessary for self rescue, proper clothing, water, and food in case of emergency. The Town of Tryon, CCC, Mountain Water Inc, and BRAG assume no responsibility for any injuries incurred by anyone engaging in any climbing activity on Melrose Mountain, and they are not responsible for the conditions of the terrain or acts of persons who may be on Town of Tryon or Mountain Water Inc property. Cell phones are encouraged for emergencies. The CCC has shared GPS points of cliff locations and maps with local rescue squads for rescue purposes.


7. Fixed Anchors Policy

7a. Definition: fixed anchors, particularly bolts, require drilling into the rock for their placement and left in the rock by a climbing party after completion of the climb.

7b. Fixed anchors can potentially help increase safety while mitigating damage to the natural resource. Fixed anchors use is solely the responsibility of the climber. Fixed anchors are not guaranteed and not routinely inspected. Use of fixed anchors is the climbers own risk. 

7c. Fixed anchors are encouraged where natural gear placements do not occur, or are not ideal for fall protection.


8. Fixed Anchors Requirements  

8a. All anchors and hangers shall be stainless steel, painted to match the surrounding rock.

8b. Typical anchor standards shall be a 3” x ⅜ ” 5-piece anchor, 3.75” x ½” 5-piece bolt, or SS Wave Bolt glue-in anchor. 3” x ⅜”-diameter wedge bolts are typically not recommended in lower quality rock bands. 

8c. All rappel / descent stations shall have non-degradable stainless hardware. The use of non-climbing specific hardware is prohibited.

8d. Webbing used when gear is fixed for the purpose of retreating from a climb, when the climbing party has no intention of returning to the climb (“bail gear”), should be of a natural color similar to the rock color. The color of webbing should not be a deciding factor when retreating due to an emergency or the inability to climb the route.


9. Route Development

The CCC and the Town of Tryon encourage thoughtful new route development by experienced parties. The CCC encourages documentation of these routes via Mountain Project, or in writing to the CCC for public posting. Precarious or dislodged rocks that may be encountered by future climbers should be removed by the first ascent party (i.e. trundeling) to ensure safety of future climbers.  Additionally, due to variances in rock quality, traditional protection placements should be inspected fully.


10. Leave No Trace

Climbers historically have a profound respect for the environments in which they recreate. Climbers should stay on designated trails to the best of their ability. Climbers should always practice Leave No Trace ethics both on and off the cliff face.


11. Vegetation or Rock Removal

11a. Excessive removal of vegetation from its natural position will not be allowed, unless the vegetation is an invasive species or is a safety concern.

11b. Chipping of holds is strictly prohibited

11c. Precarious or dislodged rocks that may be encountered by future climbers should be removed by the first ascent party (i.e. trundeling) to ensure safety of future climbers.


12. Professional Instructional Use

Any organization (e.g., non-profit, governmental, or for-profit instructional guiding outfit) desiring to use the property at Melrose Mountain for professional instruction must first obtain permission from the landowner, the Town of Tryon, by submitting a written request to the Tryon Town Manager that documents the name of the organization, intended use, professional qualifications, proposed dates/time of use, emergency contacts, and health and safety plan.  The written request must be submitted to the Town of Tryon at least two (2) weeks prior to the proposed date of use. Permission to provide professional instruction at Melrose Mountain expires one (1) year after approval by Town of Tryon. It is the instructional organization’s responsibility to ensure their approval has not lapsed. Please submit this to Tryon Town Manager Zack Ollis at

Additional requirements for use of the property for professional instruction include:

  1. For professional climbing instruction, a minimum certification of American Mountain Guides Association Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) or an equivalent certification with organizations such as Professional Climbing Instructors Association or Professional Climbing Guides Institute is required.

  2. For professional climbing instruction, the climbing instructor must be insured with a minimum of $1,000,000 per occurrence, and they must list the Town of Tryon as additionally insured.

  3. The ratio of professional climbing instructors to students should be no greater than 1:6.  Check with the Town of Tryon to identify any additional access limitations (i.e. number of participants per group, number of groups per day, number of days/week).

  4. Any instructor must hold a minimum of first aid and CPR certifications. Instructors should also maintain a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification that adheres to recommendations set forth by the Wilderness Medicine Educators Collaborative.

  5. Any instructor accessing the property must understand and be willing to practice Leave-No-Trace (LNT) principles. A LNT certification is recommended.

  6. To minimize traffic on Hogback Mountain Road and to relieve any potential parking congestion, it is the responsibility of the organization that vehicles are limited via the use of large passenger vans or carpooling and that group sizes are limited to 10 people.

The Town of Tryon reserves the right to prohibit any instructor or organization from climbing, or offering professional instruction at Melrose Mountain. By submitting an application for professional instruction at Melrose Mountain, the guiding service acknowledges these rules. The instructor/ guide acknowledges that the Town of Tryon does not maintain fixed hardware, route conditions, approach trail, or any other in-situ materials at Melrose Mountain. Additionally, the instructor and any client/student thereof accepts the following statement:

Hazardous conditions exist throughout this property. All persons entering this property do so at their own risk and by entering the property agree that they are solely responsible for their own safety. No one inspects this property or undertakes any duty to warn against hazardous conditions, structures, uses or activities on this property.