Carolina Climbers Coalition and Access Fund Team Up to Purchase Buckeye Knob and Protect Barn Boulders

09/18/2017

Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) is pleased to announce the purchase of Buckeye Knob in Watauga County, North Carolina. The purchase was made possible with a $120,000 loan from the Access Fund Climbing Conservation Loan Program. CCC and adjacent landowners also worked together to donate access and recreation easements, providing access to Buckeye Knob and permanent climbing access to the nearby Barn Boulders.


Photo courtesy of Adam Johnson

Located just outside of Boone, Buckeye Knob and the Barn Boulders are home to problems ranging from V1 to V14 and host some of North Carolina’s hardest boulder problems. Thanks to the nature of the stone and the fantastic landings, there is also a circuit of problems from V1 to V3 that has been the start of many ongoing bouldering obsessions among Carolina climbers.

Buckeye Knob was privately owned by the Highland Forestry Land and Timber company, and local climber Joey Henson approached the company about selling the property to climbers. The CCC and Access Fund joined forces to support this project, and working collaboratively with the timber company, they reached a deal to purchase the 55-acre tract for $145,000 for permanent climbing access and conservation.

The Barn Boulders sits on private land adjacent to Buckeye Knob. After seeing climbers come forward to purchase Buckeye, the owners of the Barn Boulders offered to make climbing access official and protected through an access easement onto their property. The easement also provides official access to parking and trails.

“These two properties together represent the best granite bouldering in the Boone area, with amazing lines and perfectly flat landings,” says Joey Henson, who has developed and stewarded the area for years. “The rock is an extremely solid granitic gneiss with an ideal variety of sizes and shapes—cracks, aretes, roofs and slabs. Short walls and large, round freestanding boulders are strewn across the mountain slope, offering over 500 boulder problems on 180 boulders just 10 miles west of Boone.”

“Buckeye Knob is the second largest purchase by dollar amount in the CCC’s history and the largest by acreage,” says Brian Payst, CCC President. “We are beyond excited to not only permanently protect the bouldering, but also the unique character of the area and the forest where the boulders are found. This is truly a treasured area in a part of the state that is home to a lot of high-quality climbing on public lands. The project would not have been possible without the support of the Access Fund.”

Local climbers and visitors alike will now have access to this fantastic area, which is the first climber-owned property in North Carolina’s High Country region. Buckeye Knob joins Laurel Knob, Hidden Valley, and the Rumbling Bald West Side Boulders in the CCC’s portfolio of protected areas. Trail days will be organized soon to shore up the existing trails and start the work on a new trail system.

“This project is a perfect example of how a local climbing organization, with the support of the Access Fund, can move quickly to preserve and protect a treasured resource,” says the Access Fund’s National Access Director Joe Sambataro. “The CCC and Access Fund have a long history of successful and sustainable projects, and we are excited to support a great conservation victory for the region.”

The local climbing community has already responded with fundraisers and over $10,000 in donations to help fund the acquisition and reduce the size of the loan. The CCC will be fundraising to pay off the $120,000 loan, allowing the Access Fund to re-invest those dollars to save another climbing area. Fundraising for the acquisition and future parking and trail improvements is already underway, and it will be a focus of this year’s Triple Crown Bouldering Series. You can support the protection of Buckeye Knob and the Barn Boulders by making a tax deductible donation to the Carolina Climbers Coalition at carolinaclimbers.org/projects/buckeyeknob.