Camping with The Fire Fly. We accidentally over-shot the dog camping area, but ended up with this prime location for a day.
HorsePens40 (HP40) is a premier South East bouldering destination known for its abundant sloping sandstone holds. It is the location for one of the three annual Triple Crown Bouldering Competitions, the other two destinations between Little Rock City and Hound Ears.
Best Time to Visit
HP40 is a cool weather bouldering destination making the best time to visit when the temps are in 40 – 60’s.
How to Get There
HP40 is located near Ashville, Alabama and is approximately two hours from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Once in Ashville, go north on US 231 for about 4 miles ensuring to look out for the HorsePens 40 signs. Turn right onto County Rd. 35 and go about 2 miles to County Rd. 42 (Hyatt Gap Rd) at the Horse Pens 40 sign. Follow it to the top of the mountain, looking for a rail fence and large HP40 sign on the right hand side.
There isn’t a guide book for the area besides the small Dr. Topo print out. I was fortunate and had a couple friends give me a tour, definitely the optimal way to understand the layout of the area.
I really didn’t spend enough time in HP40 to give a good list of classic problems, but a small handful include the following:
- Bum Boy – a definite area must do. Don’t be discouraged, because even though it is rated v3 – v4, it seems to take everyone hours to figure out.
- Centerpede – located on the same boulder as Bum Boy
- Millipede – located on the same boulder as Bum Boy
- Mortal Combat – aesthetic, yet scary, highball arete.
- Mulletino – roof problem
- The Crown – a fun climb with a dynamic move
- Hammerhead – a prow begging to be climbed
- Great White – beautiful line that you must at least look at, even if not climbing
There is camping at HP40, currently costing $10 per day. The campground is compact and social, lying adjacent the boulder field. However, if traveling with a dog (reference the dog section below) one must camp in a separate designated area.
Food / Drink
The closet restaurants are in Ashville, a 10 – 15 minute drive from HP40. Selection is slim! For better options, the best bet would be in Gadsden. HP40 does have a small store where food items, but not drink, can be purchased.
- Showers: HP40 has a good size facilities with many restrooms and a couple showers. The facility is clean, heated and has outlets.
- Laudry: I am unsure on this, but assume the drive back to Gadsden would be necessary.
HP40 is NOT dog friendly. They highly recommend you leave your pet at home. However, if traveling with your pet, simply ensure to follow their strict dog rules. The basic rules are dogs are allowed in one field (a very large field) and in the dog camping area. DO NOT even consider taking your pet into the boulder field. Please follow these rules as HP40 is private property and ignorance could threaten access.
Wi-fi is difficult to find in this area. The closest I found was back in Gadsden, an approximate 45 minute drive. The best location was either of the two Krystals as the hours of operation are long, the stores are open 7 days per week and wi-fi is free.
Rest Day Activities
I didn’t stay in HP40 long enough to check out rest day activities, but had initially planned to check out Birmingham as it was a mere hour drive away.
If you have additional beta, please feel free to email me or comment.