New Hampshire’s Echo Crag is one of the best single-pitch trad climbing cliffs in the Northeast. Located at the top of Franconia Notch, Echo offers a diverse array of climbs with something for climbers of every persuasion, the majority of which check in at moderate grades of 5.6 to 5.9. Echo even has a few bolted climbs, but don’t expect easy clip-ups—they put the “sport” in sport climbing thanks to a generous amount of space between bolts. So whether you’re looking for face climbing, cracks, overhangs, or harder trad, you’ll find it all at Echo.

Credit: Tim Peck

Convenient Climbing

Perhaps the best thing about Echo is the easy access. From the roadside parking on Governor Hugh Gallen Memorial Way, it’s a short and relatively easy walk on the obvious climbers’ trail (located just after the highway off-ramp) to Echo’s first routes on the Square Inch Wall. From there, accessing Echo’s other routes is pretty easy too—just keep following the climbers’ trail as it passes by the base of each wall. Below most every route, there are great places for climbers to relax while others in their party climb.

Another nice feature of Echo Crag is that the majority of its climbs have bolted anchors. This makes establishing top ropes simpler, cleaning routes easier, reduces the amount of gear required, and ultimately leads to a more relaxed and enjoyable experience.

Credit: Tim Peck

Moderate Trad

The abundance of moderate single-pitch routes with bolted anchors and rappel stations makes Echo a great destination for newer trad climbers. The Square Inch Wall, the Shield, and the Grunge Wall all offer great options, including Rocket, Maiming of the Shrew, Skeletal Ribs, Beeline, Cow’s Mouth, and Carpet Path. Each of these routes is in the 5.5 to 5.6 range with abundant options for gear.


With everything from finger and hand cracks to wide cracks and chimneys, Echo is an excellent location to practice crack climbing technique. For wider cracks, there’s Maiming of the Shrew (5.5) and Skeletal Ribs (5.6) in the middle of the Square Inch Wall. For hand-sized cracks, check out Beeline (5.6), VH-1 (5.7), Cooler Sacrifice (5.7), Three Belches (5.10), and Mandrill (5.9) on the right end of the Square Inch Wall. There’s a lot of thin crack climbing too, with the upper section of The Shield (5.7) and Pappy’s Pearl (5.10) among the options.

Face Climbing

The face climbing options at Echo are plentiful and enjoyable. Rocket, Cow’s Mouth, and Carpet Path are all pleasant romps, with the tops of the latter two routes offering excellent views of the nearby Echo Lake and Cannon Mountain. For an added challenge, check out Avalanche (5.7) on the Square Inch Wall, where a tricky-for-the-grade early sequence leads to fun climbing up high. Similarly, don’t miss The Arete (5.8) on the Dream Wall, with both high and low cruxes and enjoyable climbing throughout.

Credit: Tim Peck

Challenging routes that can be led or top-roped

Another great thing about Echo is the diversity of routes in the 5.10-5.11 range. Even better, many of these routes share anchors with nearby moderates, making it easy to lead the moderate and then top-rope something a few grades more challenging. Here are a few to check out on the Square Inch Wall:

  • Piss of Fear (5.10a), which shares an anchor with Skeletal Ribs (5.6).
  • Anna’s Treat (5.11d), which climbs the very blank face right of Skeletal Ribs.
  • Three Belches (5.10b), which shares an anchor—as well as the first half of the climb—with Cooler Sacrifice (5.7).

For those looking for even more routes in the 5.10 range, there are a host of options on the Hone Wall, a large face that’s a little ways past the Grunge Wall.

Credit: Tim Peck

An Echo Rack

A standard rack of cams with sizes from .3 to 3 and a set of nuts is a good baseline Echo rack. In general, doubles from .5 to 3 are beneficial if you’re planning on climbing cracks and a #4 is useful if you’re thinking of attempting some of the wider climbs. Conversely, a few smaller cams—.1 and .2—are nice to have if tackling thinner lines.

Location, Location, Location

Echo crag isn’t just easy to get to, its location is also within close proximity to a handful of excellent moderate multi-pitch routes. For example, just across the street from Echo Crag is Artist Bluff, home to a number of easy multi-pitch climbs where aspiring multi-pitch climbers can practice plugging gear, building anchors, and communicating with their climbing partner in a relatively low-consequence setting.

Sitting above Echo Crag high in Franconia Notch is one of the best moderate multi-pitch routes in New Hampshire, the Eaglet. A half-day trip for many, Echo provides Eaglet climbers with more than enough routes to keep them occupied after standing atop the most prominent freestanding spire on the East Coast.

A Word to Wise

The location and convenience of Echo Crag make it a popular destination for small and large guided groups, along with more seasoned non-guided climbers. Consequently, it can get crowded. There is almost always room to climb, but expect to wait for popular climbs and share the base area on weekends.