Pittsburgh Rock Climbing, McConnells Mill State Park

Pittsburgh Climbing - McConnells Mill State Park

The Mill keeps climbers coming back with a mix of routes for all levels of rock climbing.

With dozens of routes and tons of variety, McConnells Mill State Park is a must-visit crag for Pittsburgh-area climbers. It’s one of only three sanctioned climbing areas in the Pennsylvania State Park network, and sits just 45 minutes north of the city. Routes are spread between the two official zones: Breakneck Bridge and Rim Road. 

Rim Road is the more developed of the two areas, with over 40 routes spread between boulder problems and roped climbing. Most routes have top-rope anchors or slingable trees, making them great for sport climbers. But trad climbers will also find plenty to do here, with a huge mix of possible routes that can be protected. 

McConnell Mill is an excellent location for mixed-skill pairs; newer climbers can top-rope or try out leading on routes starting at 5.4, while experts can test themselves on routes up to 5.12b. Bouldering routes range from V0 to V5 with some PG13 protection ratings. 

The rock is classic western Pennsylvania sandstone with plenty of overhangs to keep things interesting. Sandstone is weakened when wet, so give the crag a break after heavy rain. Also, as tempting as it might be to take a dip in Slippery Rock Creek on a hot day, don’t. The whitewater is swift and can be a serious hazard. Head over to nearby Moraine State Park to take a dip in Lake Arthur instead. 

Recommended route

Peter Pan (5.11d) is a classic layback route up an overhanging ship’s prow. The Arete (5.7+) is a much easier classic route, although setting up the top rope does require a bit of an easy free-solo to get to the anchor point. 

Getting there

A quick blast up 79 North is the easiest and fastest way to McConnells Mill. There is limited parking on Rim Road and a small lot near Breakneck Bridge. 

More information

https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/McConnellsMillStatePark/Pages/Climbing.aspx

Where to eat

Easy choice: North Country Brewing (https://northcountrybrewing.com/) in Slippery Rock. North Country is well connected to the local community and the outdoors. From beers named after local trails and even one with hops grown on the roof of the convention center in Pittsburgh to an aquaponic program providing job-training skills to people with disabilities, North Country is more than just a place to refuel.

AUTHOR

Eric Mckeegan

Eric is a Pittsburgh-based writer and former editor of Dirt Rag who specializes in cycling and camping, plus covers other active outdoor adventures across western PA.

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