Bent Tree Area (5.7-5.9+)

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.60328°N / 78.3681°W
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Toprope
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 3397 ft / 1035 m
Sign the Climber's Log


The Bent Tree
The Bent Tree

Easy to locate due to its namesake feature, the Bent Tree area at Little Stony Man has a nice collection of 5.7-5.8 climbs with variations up to 9+. In my opinion, this is the second-best climbing spot at Little Stony Man after the Dragon Area (page forthcoming). It is directly climber's right of the Flatiron Area. Here one finds a wall, a pillar, and a dihedral capped by a roof. Two routes finish left of the pillar, and two finish to the right.

At up to 100', Little Stony Man offers the longest single-pitch routes in Shenandoah National Park and perhaps in all of Virginia.

The best resource for climbing here is this online PATC guide, but this page should cover you nonetheless.

Toproping here is a hassle because unless you know the area well, most routes are difficult to locate from the top, necessitating a lot of yelling back and forth with one's partner or extra trips up and down if one is solo; and because you will have to build a gear anchor, as the only trees are on the other side of the clifftop trail and you are not allowed to have ropes crossing the trail (nor should you want to). There are some "slingable" boulders, but not many.

Getting There

The Little Stony Man parking area is in the park’s Central District at MP 39 on Skyline Drive. If entering the park at the Front Royal or Thornton Gap entrance, drive south. If entering at Rockfish Gap or Swift Run Gap, drive north. Note that there is an entrance fee for Skyline Drive. In 2015, it was either $15 or $20.

To get directly to the base of the cliffs, hike on the AT to the junction with the Passamaquoddy Trail, which leads to a ledge offering a great view of the cliffs and then turns left to run directly beneath the cliffs. 

Note-- Some boulders and outcrops near the northern end offer interesting bouldering and scrambling, and I have, in fact, done some bouldering there, but current management plans have made for the closure of this area to human activity.

One can also hike to the top of the cliffs instead and then follow The Chute down to the base, but it is much faster and easier to use the Passamaquoddy Trail. The Chute begins south of the open clifftop area.


From left to right as you face the cliffs:
  • Snow Easy Finish (5.7)-- The linked guide explains that when the PATC group was working on its project to climb and rate the routes out here, this was the last climb of the day one afternoon, and it started snowing during the climb. Go up a pillar and then a steep face.
  • Kopley's Corner (5.7)-- Originally called Head First, in 2012 this climb was renamed for Adam Kopley, a climber who enjoyed Little Stony Man and this route in particular. Start up the pillar in the center of the area and then move left into a left facing corner and take it to the top. High-quality route.
  • Longhorn (5.8- PG)-- Go up the pillar and then to its right until you are beneath an overhang. Traverse right and exit on an arete (5.8-) or pull the overhang directly (5.9). There are good holds if you want to do the direct pull.
  • The Shield (5.8)-- Climb a dihedral to a roof resembling a shield. Stem and layback on the left to gain an arete and exit. For a 5.9+ variation, pull the rook using a crack on its right end. I initially went for the 9+, and everything seemed to be there, but I was solo TRing this and my anchor was not set for this variation, so I spared myself the potential swing and did the standard line instead.
Snow Easy Finish (5.7) and Kopley's Corner (5.7)
Snow Easy Finish (5.7) and Kopley's Corner (5.7)

Kopley's Corner (5.7)
Kopley's Corner (5.7)

Bent Tree Area
Longhorn (5.8-) and The Shield (5.8)


Stoppers, hexes, and cams. Gear placements are decent to great on the routes at Bent Tree.

Red Tape

It costs $15 to enter the park, and that provides access for a week. Annual passes cost $30. The interagency pass, good for yearlong entry to areas managed by NPS, USDA Forest Service, USFWS, BLM, and the Bureau of Reclamation, costs $80.

It’s common sense to wear a helmet when climbing, anyway, but it’s especially important here since people at the top might toss rocks over the edge.

There are plans to close a section 35 meters north of the Chute and all of the cliffs south of the Chute to human activity. Also, there are plans to use low-impact barriers to close off a boulder area at the north end where the Passamaquoddy Trail bends to approach the base of the cliffs. I do not know when these closures will go into effect; they did not seem to be in effect as of November 2010, the last time I was out here.

The park is open all year, but Skyline Drive does sometimes close after snow or ice storms. The park site does not give current road conditions, so call ahead (540-999-3500).

To reduce poaching, Skyline Drive is subject to closures during hunting season. The information below, copied and pasted from the park site, illustrates the 2006 restrictions—

From November 13, 2006, through January 6, 2007
Skyline Drive
•between Front Royal (Mile 0 at U.S. Highway 340) and Thornton Gap (Mile 31 at U.S. Highway 211), and
•between Swift Run Gap (Mile 65 at U.S. Highway 33) and Rockfish Gap (Mile 105 at U.S. Highway 250),
will be closed daily between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
The central portion of the Drive, between Thornton Gap and Swift Run Gap, will remain open for overnight access to Skyland Resort and Big Meadows Campground until those facilities close on November 26.
Then, beginning November 27, 2006, through January 6, 2007, the entire length of the Skyline Drive will be closed daily from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m.

When to Climb

Spring through fall, though winter will usually offer some decent days since the cliffs face west.


The nearest campground is Big Meadows, about 14 miles south. The campground is usually open from early March through Thanksgiving weekend. Reservations are strongly advised. The lodges are seasonally open, with Skyland opening earlier than Big Meadows. For more comfort, consider staying at Skyland Lodge, about three miles south, or at Big Meadows lodge. See the External Links section for links to pertinent information.

External Links

Official park site
Camping info
Lodging info



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Little Stony ManMountains & Rocks