Many climbers traverse Route 2 in Farley, Massachusetts numerous times, looking for – but never quite catching sight of – Farley Ledges tucked behind the trees. While this search might prove to be an apt metaphor for one’s entire trip, the high concentration of tall, hard routes and excellent bouldering make the effort worth it.
These southeast facing chain of ledges, like much of the rock in the region, is granitic gneiss. This stone is characterized by big, sloping horizontals, small edges and sweeping features. At least four waves of route developers have put up a variety of lines spanning the gamut of highball bouldering to committing traditional lines to pumpy sport routes. The climbing is best when friction is the highest. Generally, ideal conditions can be found in spring and fall, although the heavily forested areas provide ample shade on hot summer days.
Farley sees more visitors each year, especially on the weekends and holidays. Plan on seeing other parties. If the the lots are close to full, consider a visit to Rose Ledges or Mormon Hollow: both are within two miles of Farley and offer more solitude.
In fact, the willingness to climb at a different crag on heavy use days is one big thing individual climbers could do to preserve access to Farley. Farley has been closed numerous times by landowners disgruntled by our numbers, our behavior or both. The WMCC was born to deal with the last closure and we have kept it open. Our purchase of the seven acre plot allowed us to build permanent parking and trail access, but we do not own any of the stone. In other words, we have stabilized – but not guaranteed – our access to the climbing. Please, tread lightly so we can all come back.
The primary parking area and the trail head can be found on a seven acre parcel purchased by the WMCC. Just west from Holmes Ave down Route 2 near a gravel pullout on the cliff side of the street, a new parking lot and trailhead have been built and the future is looking brighter. This new lot was built for 16 cars though can take a few more. Please park considerately and pay the $5.00 suggested donation at the kiosk.
Farley has two secondary lots: the old 8-car lot on Wells Street (Holmes Ave) located just to the east on Route 2 across from the cabin looking house. Overflow parking is also available across the Millers River on Bridge Street (Farley Rd) in the small dirt lot.
The Bridge Street lot should be limited to 5 cars and there should be no parking on the south side of the street. Parking on the north side should be done carefully to avoid blocking traffic and especially emergency vehicles. Please respect the residents and other vehicles. Cars have been towed in this area.
It’s a 5 min. walk to either of the two other parking areas from here. Please remember that both of these overflow areas are located on private property and exist at the generosity of the current landowners.
Click here for a link to the interactive map above of all the Western Mass crags discussed on this site.
The main access trail is located beyond the kiosk at the end of the parking lot. From the parking lot, walk north up the hillside to the intersection with the Red Dot trail. Turn right and the trail will wind through the boulder field before it meets the multi-state New England Trail (Metacomet-Monadnock Section) at Briggs Brook. Continue straight ahead and the trail will take you to the Wall of Early Mornign Light, the most popular sport climbing wall at Farley. To the left the Red Dot trail continues around the back and ridge of Rattlesnake Mountain which is spectacular 1-1/2 mile hike in it’s own right. Many portions of trail are located on private property so please show your respect. Keep your dogs leashed when visiting Farley Ledge since many of the abutting landowners also have dogs.
Currently, the WMCC, at the request of property owners, has a NO GUIDEBOOK policy for Farley Ledges. This means that no comprehensive route information for Farley ledges should be posted on-line or otherwise distributed.
Why no Guidebook:
- All the crags and boulder problems are on private or Power Company managed land (see map).
- Not having a guidebook was part of the original agreement with landowners to gain climbing access.
- Very limited parking is currently available and street or highway parking is a source of friction with residents of the area.
- The Power Company (FirstLight Power Resources) is currently renegotiating the operating license with FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission). Part of this license covers recreational activity on the leased State property and the implications for climbing are yet to be determined.
Since a portion of Farley Ledge is owned by FirstLight & Power, climbers and other visitors to that land are obligated to follow the rules and regulations established by the Northfield Mountain Environmental & Recreation Center. Part of these regulations include restrictions on the licensed use of their property for professional guiding services. At this time, FirstLight and Northfield Mountain are not interested in allowing licensed use of the cliffs for commerical climbing classes or trips. This is limited to the portion of Farley Ledge owned by FirstLight. Property owner information can be found on the kiosk at the main trail head.