Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth, Connecticut is know for its network of great hiking trails and summer swimming hole. But climbers know the real gems lie back in the woods – in the steep gneiss crags of the Chatfield Hollow Main Wall.
Climbing history here dates back more than 40 years and the cliff has become a regular stop for climbers from throughout the region. The rock outcroppings are comprised of Monson Gneiss, a coarse-grained metamorphic rock that provides just about any hold type or style of climbing you could want.
You’ll find kid-friendly slabs, steep face climbing (Jungle Face 5.10), a variety of cracks ranging from casual “trad” warmups (Clark Bar Crack 5.5) to desperate test-pieces (Wallow in the Hollow 5.12c) and several newly bolted sport climbs starting at 5.11 (Shape Shifter 5.12).
This crag has seen a large increase in climber use in recent years. Please practice Leave No Trace Principals, leave the boom-boxes at home (wear headphones instead) and follow these best practices at the crag.
Bring a static rope for top rope anchors and a climbing rope at least 50m in length. If you lead traditional routes you’ll want to bring a standard rack up to 3″. Several difficult sport climbs have been bolted in recent years starting at about 5.11. A rack of 10 (or less) quick draws will get you to the anchors.
Several popular top rope climbs now have bolted anchors but some are difficult to reach from the top. Use caution or a sort static rope to access the top anchors.
Many bolted anchors and sport climbs have been installed the past couple years. Personal views about bolting aside, CT DEEP has not published a climbing management plan. Other rules prohibit altering state property or developing without permission. Please observe posted rules and seek landowner permission before installing fixed anchors.
Chatfield Hollow State Park is located along Route 80 in Killingworth just a short distance west of the traffic circle at the intersection of Route 80 and Clinton Road (Route 81).
Chatfield Hollow State Park (Main Entrance)
381 Route 80
Parking & Approach
Access the main climbing area from a small dirt pull-off located on the south side of Route 80 just about 1/10 mile west of the main park entrance.
Walk about 200 yards west (uphill) on Route 80. You’ll find a climbers trail just in front of the guard rail on the north (opposite) side of the road. Follow the obvious trail a short distance to the crag. At a fork in the trail decide to approach the bottom of the cliff (left) or the top (right) – .25 mile car to crag.
If the small dirt lot is full, ample parking can be found at the main entrance to the park. Check park maps and locate the orange blazed “Deep Woods Trail”.
Follow the trail about 1/2 mile to the top of the main climbing area. – .80 mile car to crag from the park entrance.
Super Slab (5.5)
Clark Bar Crack (5.5)
Trad Crack (5.6)
Forearm Frenzy (5.11)
Shape Shifter (5.12)
Guidebook: Rock Climbing Connecticut by Dave Fasulo
Mountain Project: Chatfield Hollow Main Wall on Mountain Project
For information about the hiking at Chatfield Hollow, check out our Chatfield trail review.