A Popular Maryland Rock Climb
Climbs at the King and Queen Seat at Rocks State Park, Maryland, are known as some of the best trad climbs to be found in the state. As you may already know, I am not quite ready to be a trad climber! (Confession: I’ve only sport climbed a few times…) That being the case, I decided to try some top-roping at a part of the King and Queen Seat known as the Biceps Wall, the rock face at the front right of the main overlook area. I came prepared to build a long anchor system, be on the lookout for wasps, and ready to slather on sunscreen. What I wasn’t expecting were people throwing rocks!
Rocks State Park is a fairly easy area to find, and it will pop up if you search for it on Google Maps. The correct parking lot, however, is trickier. For the Biceps Wall, you will want to park at the Rock Ridge Picnic Area parking lot. This is at an unnamed road off of St Clair Bridge Road. Coordinates are (39.634523, -76.418875), which you can type right into Google Maps. Alternatively, if you get lost, follow signs to the Rocks State Park main office! They can point you in the right direction.
Once you’ve parked, it’s an easy stroll down to the King and Queen Seat,
which comes in handy if you’re carrying trad equipment. The trail leads down from the left of the parking lot.
Once at the overlook, follow the small trail down along the right side of the rock. You’ve arrived! This leads to a nice outcropping for belaying or laying out equipment. If you’re top-roping, you’ll have to go back to the top of the outcrop to set up the anchor.
For the Biceps Wall, there aren’t too many good anchors to choose from. Short slings or a short length of static rope may not cut it.
Because we brought longer static rope, we were able to tie one anchor to a tree further back in the main part of the overlook. This was a little tricky. Even though we were climbing on a weekday, it was the summertime. The place was overrun with people stopping by to check out the overlook. We had to be somewhat observant to be sure our rope wouldn’t trip anyone, or keep anyone from being able to get to the edge of the overlook.
The second anchor was a little easier. This was a giant and very solid boulder right over the master point (where your carabiners and dynamic rope sits).
In the setup picture, Alex is working on a narrow ledge between the top of the Biceps Wall and the boulder we used for an anchor. For peace of mind, a friction hitch or some other security while working near the edge would be a good idea.
Be prepared for passersby to ask a lot of questions!
What to Climb?
One of the cool things about the Biceps Wall is the variety of ways to start off the climb. The wall itself has multiple shelves running along the bottom half of it. These can be climbed in different ways, providing a lot of good use out of a single top-rope setup. If trad climbing, be wary of the shelves! A fall could have you landing on one.
The rock itself is slightly overhung, especially where the shelves are
concerned. In the picture of the wall, to the left is a more vertical climb called Beginner’s Flake, which follows straight up a large flake in the face and is rated a 5.5. Where we set up a rope was near a climb called the The Crux, rated a 5.5 as well. You could probably get away with one rope setup for both climbs. Be sure to position the anchor a little more central to both climbs than shown.
Was That a Rock?
While belaying Alex, I heard a loud crash right behind me. At first I thought it had to be a branch, until it happened again even closer to me.
“Hey, stop throwing rocks!” I shouted up the rock face. The noises stopped.
The King and Queen Seat is an area that sees a lot of foot traffic from people who normally may not even hike on a regular basis. We observed a lot of violation of etiquette. People stepping on our rope, leaving litter behind, and throwing rocks down the sides of the overlook, for example. There’s not too much you can do other than politely ask them to stop. We had no one actually interfere with our ropes once we started climbing, but it may be a good idea to double-check their status once in a while from the top.
Worth a Visit?
In my opinion, this was a good area to go as a top-roper if you are local and don’t mind other people being around. There’s definitely a lot of foot traffic, and not a ton of great anchors that stay out of people’s way. I’d imagine that for someone wanting to practice their trad technique, this would be a great area. Once down in the belaying area, the noise from others dies away and it is very peaceful. Although it’s a busy area, the climbs themselves were a lot of fun.
Never climbed outside? Check out my 7 Things NOT to Do.
Have you climbed the Biceps Wall? What did you think?
For more information: Mountain Project’s Biceps Wall Page