bilger's rocks history

Sometimes referred to as “rock city,” Bilger’s Rocks in Grampian, PA is a very interesting area to visit.

It is not a premiere rock climbing destination, nor does it provide miles of hiking trails. But it offers a little bit of both, and it’s just such a fun place to explore!

I grew up coming here and exploring caves, crawling up rocks, climbing trees, and creeping through crevices. I did some bouldering before I had ever heard of “bouldering.”

Getting Here

Bilger’s Rocks is easy to find, offers free parking, and the fun starts as soon as you step outside.

Address

Bilger’s Rocks Camping Area
1921 Bilgers Rocks Rd
Grampian, PA 16838

You’ll drive by the rocks right before you get to the parking area.

Here are the GPS coordinates for the entrance to the walking tour:

40.993158, -78.592689

More details can be found online at www.BilgersRocks.com.

Educational and Scenic Environment

If you want to take a stroll and appreciate the sights, Bilger’s Rocks is excellent. The rocks are cool, and there are some interesting carvings on the rock. On this list of 30 PA locations you must see, it’s listed at #2. (Unfortunately, the graffiti is plentiful.)

There’s a lot of history here, and especially if you are interested in geology, it’s loads of fun.

Uncovering PA provides a nice report with photos.

If you take a guided tour, you’ll get all the history lessons and have a chance to ask questions. Highly recommended.

Camping at Bilger’s Rocks

There are primitive camp sites available at Bilger’s Rocks.

You can reserve a spot by calling the office (the number is listed on the website.) I believe camping is $5 per night.

coach levi hiking at bilgers rocks

Hiking and Scrambling

If you want to go for a day hike, this is not the place to go. If you take a lap around the rock outcropping, I don’t think it’s more than half a mile. There aren’t any real hiking trails that I know of.

However, if you like scrambles, you can play around on the rocks all day! I have more fun just doing some scrambling than I do attempting actual rock climbing.

It makes for a fun but relaxed day. You can go walk around and climb and have fun, and whenever you’re thirsty, grab a drink at your car. Repeat. Later on, have a little picnic.

I don’t suggest carrying a backpack, because that’s going to hinder your progress through the many crevices you’ll encounter. There are some tight squeezes!

I do suggest going through the Ice Cave. This is essentially a tunnel that goes about 25′ beneath the rocks before opening up where you can climb up and out through a crevice. Just prepare to get dirty, wet, and cold – it’s called the “ice” cave for a reason!

I fit through easily when I was 10 years old, but these days, I’m a little bigger and have some trouble! It’s fun, though.

As you can probably imagine, there is no mountain biking here. I don’t know if it’s strictly forbidden, but there is nowhere you could ride other than a short section of dirt road. So leave the bike at home and use your hands and feet!

coach levi bouldering at bilgers rocks

Rock Climbing and Bouldering Opportunities

If you want to do some real rock climbing, that’s certainly an option. You’re going to put in some effort, though.

Rock Climbing

There are no routes bolted for sport climbing, so you will be setting up top-rope anchors on trees (at varying distances from the edges) or placing gear if you’re a traditional climber.

There are a couple routes with cracks that make for decent trad routes.

Highball Bouldering

Other than some traverses, just about every boulder problem requires you to climb straight up. The boulder problems are also on most of the same rocks as the climbs.

I believe the walls are around 25-30′ tall, so they’re certainly going to take you higher than typical bouldering problems, putting you into the dangerous “highball” territory. Especially with the landings, which include more rock than dirt.

But with how long it takes to set up a proper top rope anchor on this terrain, I can understand why many people skip the ropes.

coach levi climbing at bilgers rocks

When to Climb

You definitely want to go in the summer or fall. In the spring it’s going to be too cold and/or too wet. (Which is especially tough when you consider how dirty the boulders are.)

It’s a pretty good location in the heat, since there is a lot of shade from the rocks and trees. Plus, super cold air blows out of the crevices. So July is actually an excellent time to visit.

Check out RockClimbing.com to see info on specific routes.

Safety Tips

This is a party spot, so watch out for broken glass on the ledges.

There are natural springs so watch for wet rocks and moss. (Much like the climbing at McConnell’s Mill.)

Watch your step! You don’t want to fall in a crevasse. (At least one person has died here, not from rock climbing, but from being careless.)

The Town of Grampian, PA

Grampian is a small town, but you’ll find some small stores and restaurants nearby.

I highly suggest stopping at Aletta’s Farm Market for a scoop of ice cream to cap off the evening.

For a nice lunch, venture over into Curwensville, PA to South Side Subs. They have great subs at great prices. You can get your lunch to go, and either take it up to Bilger’s Rocks, or head a couple blocks down the street to Irvin Park and have a nice little picnic.

Grampian is also home to Mint Condition Sports Medicine and Chiropractic Wellness. If you get beat up on the rocks, Dr. J will fix you up nice.

 

Do you have any stories to share about visiting Bilger’s Rocks?

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