Horse Pens is My Happy Place

I woke up with the sun, unzipped my tent, and looked around. We had arrived at Horse Pens 40 after dark, so I didn’t really know where I was.


But as I walked around to get the lay of the land, I fell instantly in love – and that feeling only grew stronger over the next two and a half (far too short!) days I spent at this bouldering playground and community campground in Steele, Alabama.


I came down south for the clusters of rocks to climb, and those were in plentiful supply, along with lots of Southern charm on this family-owned farm.


I found – and flailed on – Bumboy (V3), the problem that had me dreaming of Horse Pens long before this trip was even planned.

bumboy drop knee
(Photo by @sarah.c.kremer)

And I spent a lot of time on The Stranger (V2), a problem that quickly became my favorite project, just as Mountain Project predicted.

(Photo by @_seedro)
(Photo by @_seedro)

New friends and fellow campers led me to Turtle Head (V0), a fun climb named for obvious reasons.


Though it can get a little hot at Horse Pens, you’re camping just yards away from the boulders, so it’s simple to walk back to your tent to take a power nap and wait out the heat.

tents campground hp40 lr

And you don’t have to worry about losing daylight to climb, because there’s plenty of great night bouldering – especially on Bumboy!

(Photo by @sarah.c.kremer)
(Photo by @sarah.c.kremer)

I enjoyed every minute of my time at HP40, even the moments where I was frustrated and cursing at the rock that I couldn’t hang on to. And what I wanted to hold onto almost as much as the slippery slopers was my time there.


Come back soon? I wish I never had to leave, so you know I will!

(In the meantime, I’ll dream of sandstone slopers.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *