Overview and Routes
Riverbend Wall is a little-climbed crag in the woods of Riverbend Park, which borders Great Falls Park on the north. The routes are short, only 25-30', but this makes many of them very nice as bouldering problems, and there are many other bouldering possibilities here, too. And although the routes are short, the crag is small enough, and the routes close enough together, that climbers can set up a toprope just once and be able to climb several different routes in one outing.
Most people who see this crag are hikers and horseback riders travelling between Great Falls Park and Riverbend Park. A few curious people do a little scrambling on the rock, but showing up here only to find ropes thrown over all the good routes is almost inconceivable.
Something else appealing about Riverbend Wall is that it is in a shaded area, unlike many of the other Great Falls crags, which are exposed cliffs above the Potomac River. This makes Riverbend Wall a nice place to climb during the hot, humid summer.
Here is a list of routes on the crag, from left to right as one faces it, as detailed in the PATC Climbers' Guide for the Great Falls area:
Camel (Difficulty unlisted)
PJ Flyer (5.8)
Slim Pickens (5.6)
Little Thing (5.4)
The crag is small but highly varied, and the routes include cracks, walls, and overhangs.
The crag is accessible via a short hike from either Great Falls Park or Riverbend Park. The rocks are about 30' up a hill off the west side of the trail, about 100 yards north of the signed boundary of the parks (if approaching from the north, the crag is on the right about 75 yards past the junction of the Heritage and Upland trails.
To reach Great Falls Park: From the western part of I-495, a piece of the Capital Beltway, take Exit 44 for Route 193, Georgetown Pike; this is the second exit south of the Maryland border. Drive west for a few miles until you see the well-signed road leading to Great Falls Park. Turn right and follow the road about a mile to the entrance station. There are two large parking lots after the entrance station. Park as far from the entrance station as possible and take the trail north along the river.
To reach Riverbend Park: Almost half a mile past the turnoff for Great Falls Park, turn right on River Bend Road and drive a few miles to the park entrance. There is good signage. Park by the picnic area and hike south on the trail along the river.
Great Falls Park is open from 7 A.M. until dark. There is an admission fee, good for three days, of $5 per vehicle or $3 per person entering on foot or by bicycle.
Climbers are asked to register (free). There is a registration box at the visitor center.
There is no entrance fee for Riverbend Park, which is administered by Fairfax County. It, too, is only open during daylight hours, and gates are locked at closing time.
Drilling to place bolts is prohibited. Tradition and regulations require toproping or removable trad gear. Great Falls is not a sport climbing area.
There is no camping in either park. The area adjacent to the parks is private property.
Link to Great Falls NPS site.
Riverbend Park site