BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA - OCCONEECHEE COUNCIL
COPE AND CLIMBING

Devil's Cellar, Table Rock Mountain, NC

Devil's Cellar, Table Rock Mountain, Linville Gorge, North Carolina

Description
Table Rock Mountain is a famed climbing crag on the east rim of Linville Gorge.  BSA climbers will enjoy top rope climbing and rappelling at the Devils Cellar gulley on the north side of the mountain.  The west side of this gulley provides a variety of face climbs and long rappels. Midway down the gulley is a short cave shaft that leads a few feet down into a small cave that opens out at the bottom of the gulley.  This unique feature allows rappels that descend into the cave room, or top rope belays for climbing out of the cave through the shaft.  Facing north, this site is pleasantly cool throughout the Summer but can be icy during the winter.

The Chimneys area to the south of Table Rock offers easy top rope climbing routes and rappels with amazing views of the lower gorge (see separate report).  A day of climbing at Devils Cellar can be combined with a day of climbing at The Chimneys for a great weekend of climbing adventure.   

Activities and Anchors
At the top of the gulley, looking out, the left side (west side) has a nice progression of face climbs that are easily anchored for top rope belays.  The routes progress in difficulty (5.6-5.10) as you move out from the top of the gulley.  Anchors consist of pine trees and rock slabs that are 20-30 feet from the cliff edge so large webbing loops or a static rope are needed to build the anchor systems.  While building anchors, it is very useful to have an instructor on the floor of the gulley to help locate the best top rope anchor points for the climbing routes.

About 20 yards out on the west side, you will see a huge rock slab that you can sling with webbing for an excellent chest-high rappel anchor.  This rappel route has a perfect ledge for an instructor to manage participants, and there are several anchors for safety lines.  This rappel can be setup either as a double rope rappel or as a single rope releasable rappel with a top rope belay. 

A few yards farther out is an excellent rappel site that allows participants to descend into the Devils Cellar cave.  It can be anchored by a pine tree and a rock slab. Experienced instructors can use this same static rope as a top rope anchor for belaying climbers coming out of the cave shaft (‘the cellar’).  Additional anchors are needed to stabilize this belay point to prevent swing and to ensure braking action of the ATC.

This site is very exposed, with sharp drop offs. In addition to the required climbing staff, Unit Adult Leaders are needed at top and bottom for crowd control and safety. This site is recommended for mature participants with good safety discipline.   

Getting There
The Forest Service maintains a picnic area with pit toilets at the southern base of Table Rock.  There is no water in this area.  The Mountains to Sea (MTS) trail (white blaze) runs North-South through the picnic area and parking lot.  Take this trail north from the parking lot to a saddle between Little Table Rock knob and Table Rock Mountain.  From the saddle, the trail descends northeast and the summit trail will veer up to the right.  The summit trail follows the north face of Table Rock.  As the trail passes through two large boulders (10-15’ high), look for a narrow path to the left that leads 30 yards to the top of the Devils Cellar gulley.  Continuing on the summit trail affords incredible views of the upper gorge and should be part of any visit.       

The Table Rock Picnic Area is located on the east rim of Linville Gorge and can be accessed by taking I-40 to the Morganton exit, or by taking US-421 to the Blue Ridge Parkway just outside of Boone.  From both approaches, you will use NC-181 to access the gorge.   NC-181 runs north-south along the east rim.

Coming up from Morganton on NC-181, you will see the Forest Service sign for the Table Rock Picnic Area and take a left on to Simpson Creek Road.  Take a right on to Table Rock Road and follow the signs to the Picnic Area parking lot.  A last FS Picnic Area sign will be the left turn on to FS 210B which will pass the Outward Bound School on the way to Table Rock.

Coming from Boone on the Blue Ridge Parkway, look for the NC-181 Morganton exit near Linville Falls. On NC-181 look for the FS Table Rock sign and take a right turn on to Ginger Cake Road.  Ginger Cake Road is a loop and you will be turning on the bottom of the loop.  Table Rock Road will veer off to the left.  This is a gravel road with many switch backs. Look for the last FS Picnic Area sign for the right turn on to FS 210B which will pass the Outward Bound School on the way to Table Rock.

Reference Google Maps, Satellite view, Keywords: ‘ginger cake road and table rock road, jonas ridge, nc’ for a good map view of the NC-181 area

Emergency Planning

  • Phone service can be limited in this area but will be best along NC-181.  Be prepared for an emergency evacuation to NC-181 for EMS 911 support.
  • This area is frequented by violent thunderstorms in the Summer.  Plan accordingly to complete climbing activities by mid-afternoon and monitor weather conditions.
  • FRS radios, with weather frequencies, are highly recommended for coordinating unit activities.
  • Pisgah National Forest, Grandfather Ranger District (828-652-2144).
  • Grace Hospital, 2201 South Sterling Street, Morganton:  828-580-5000.  Take Table Rock Road right from the Picnic Area. Then turn right on to NC-181 heading to Morganton and follow the blue hospital signs.

Camping

The Mountains To Sea trail leads south through the picnic area, and just beyond the picnic area are several open areas suitable for primitive group camping.  Seasonal permits are required and can be obtained from the Pisgah National Forest, Grandfather Ranger District (828-652-2144). 

A variety of National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway sites are located nearby with several private RV style campgrounds located along NC-181.