TL;DR (A summary):
The route climbing and bouldering along the section of Meadow River and Glade Creek, often called “the Southside,” is owned and managed by three entities: The Heartwood Forest Land Group (TFG), Nuttall LLC (Nuttalls), and Fayette County.
Climbers have never had explicit permission to climb on either TFG or Nuttall land. After ATV accidents along the Meadow River rail grade near the Southside in the early summer of 2021, and with continued trespassing by climbers, the landowners have formally asked that climbers and other recreationists cease further use of this land.
NRAC is actively communicating with landowners to gain formalized access to the climbing on both sides of the Meadow, stretching from Nallen to US Route 19, including the Southside climbing areas. NRAC asks climbers to NOT climb any routes or boulders in this area. We also ask that climbers avoid the use of the rail grade from Nallen to Glade Creek. While this is public land managed by Fayette County, it is surrounded by private property, does not access any currently open cliffs or boulders, and motorized vehicles are prohibited.
The New River Gorge is lined with cliffs and littered with boulders, however it is not the only river corridor with these gifts. This region includes two other rivers: the Gauley River and the Meadow River.
While established climbing along the Gauley is sporadic below the Summersville Dam, the Meadow River holds several large, well-established crags and boulder clusters. The route climbing guide book for the region documents much of the established roped climbing, including the highly popular Lower Meadow as well as the currently closed Southside areas, while the bouldering guide showcases the high concentration Meadow Top boulders. Unfortunately, while much of the climbing in the New River Gorge is on public land, the tracts along the Meadow River are almost entirely privately owned. Climbers have historically been a small, low-impact user group to the area, but this is no longer the case and the climbing community has to respectfully navigate private land owners and their wishes.
Another growing outdoor recreation user group is motorized off-roaders. The Meadow River rail grade through the Southside gained popularity for riders over the last few years as it provided miles of scenic, uninterrupted, and previously unregulated access to the Meadow and Gauley rivers. In the early summer of 2021, there were multiple off-road motorized vehicle accidents, including fatalities. This prompted a meeting of the primary land owners through this area of rail grade. To avoid further trespassing and potential accidents with associated liability, the land owners formally closed their land to all user groups. To be clear, climbers never had permission to use most of the Southside and have always been trespassing. Now that climbing access to the Southside has closed, NRAC and the Access Fund are pursuing formal agreements to allow future use.