Rock climbing and rappelling in any form are not permitted in natural areas as designated by the forest service.
A Natural Area is any tract of land or water that supports unique examples of terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, habitats, and populations. The Shawnee National Forest has limited opportunities for rock climbing and rappelling in order to protect these fragile ecosystems and prevent soil compaction and erosion.
Please be familiar with these areas and contact the Forest Service should you encounter an area whose status as a Natural Area is unclear to you. Click here for a list of Shawnee Natural Areas.
Not knowing an area’s designation as a Natural Area does not excuse violation of the restriction against climbing in a Natural Area. As climbers, we are responsible for knowing which areas are open to climbing.
Bolting and anchor replacement must be approved by the forest service. Climbers should only use existing anchors or removable protection when climbing in recreational areas.
Bolting, from the perspective of the Forest Service, has always been and continues to be an illegal activity that constitutes environmental devastation. Bolting that occurred prior to the Forest Service’s knowledge of climbers as a user group was overlooked and exempt from this regulation. The Forest Service will permit bolted protection or anchor replacement only with the sole approval of the District Ranger.
Any individual who wishes to establish a route or retrofit an existing route for the purposes of recreational climbing by installing permanent bolts should first contact the District Ranger’s office. Jackson Falls is in the Hidden Springs Ranger District.