Chattanooga, Climbing Areas

Chattanooga Climbing & Bouldering Guide

Climbing in Western North CarolinaWelcome to the Chattanooga Adventure Guide’s Best Climbing Adventures section. Below you will find information on adventure climbing and bouldering in the Chattanooga, TN area including the Tennessee Wall, Foster Falls, Horse Pens, Stone Fort, Leda, Lost Wall, Sunset Rock and Rocktown.

 


Foster Falls (Jasper)

Great wall of southern sandstone, featuring beginner, moderate, and expert level sport routes averaging between 50-70 feet tall. Everything from slabs to steep walls line this 2 mile long cliff. The wall mainly faces south, so it is showered by sun light all day. The Right Bunker and the Darkie Cave offer some shade from the sun. If the climbing gets to hot, be sure to take the short hike out to the great swimming hole which features the 100′ Foster Falls waterfall. Notable routes include everything on the White Wall, especially Satisfaction (12a/b), Wristlets (11c), and Handcuffed (11c/d). Advance climbers will also enjoy the Crime Buttress, which is the next tall wall down the trail. The Right Bunker is just past the Crime Buttress which hosts routes on the upper end of the difficulty spectrum, where experts will be challenged with tons of steep southern sandstone. Beginners will enjoy the Jimmywood area and the Rocket Slab. A pay campground is available near the parking area.

Directions from Chattanooga: Take I-24 West, over Nickajack Lake, toward Jasper, TN. Exit onto TN 28 (exit #155), then exit again into the town of Jasper proper. Follow signs for TN 150 / US 41 toward Tracy City. Follow TN 150 to the top of the plateau, passing the old Mountain Mart on the left. Proceed for three miles to the Foster Falls entrance on the left, between the mile markers 8 and 9. The climber’s trail begins left of the parking lot and the dining pavilion. Follow the power lines left keeping the falls and the creek on the right. A long set of stone steps and suspension bridge take you over the Fiery Gizzard Creek and to the base of the cliff. Follow the trail down stream, keeping the wall on the right. Routes are listed from right to left.


Horse Pens 40 (Oneida, AL)

Horse Pens 40 is an international destination for boulderers, with acres of bulbous sandstone faces, blunt prows, tall slabs, steep overhangs, and challenging water grooves. For a small day fee ($5/day/climber), the owners, Mike and Gina Shultz, have been so kind to open up this once closed gem of a boulder field to the public. There are over 100 problems from V-3-V5, and just as many between V6-V8, all within earshot of the parking lot, campgrounds ($10/person/night) and the general store. All amenities, including rental climbing gear is available. Especially notable problems are: Genesis (V3), Bumboy (V3), Man with the Slow Hand (V4), Millipede (V5), Moon Arete (V6), Chattanooga Plow (V7), Skywalker (V8), Slider (V9) and God Module (V11).

Directions from Chattanooga: Take I-24 W to I-59 S to Exit 166, the exit for Ashville and Oneonta. Head north (right off the exit ramp) on US231 /AL 53. Go about 3 miles and you will see the ‘Horse Pens 40″ signs. Turn right onto County Road 35 / Gallant Rd. After a few miles, turn right onto County Rd. 42, where again there is a HP40 sign, although not as big as the first. Go to the top of the mountain to the marked entrance of HP40.


Lost Wall (Lafayette, Pigeon Mountain)

The Lost Wall doesn’t have the length of cliffline, the height or even the rock quality to match the Tennessee Crags, but it’s still a worthwhile destination. With a number of good routes for topropers and leaders trying to hone their skills, along with some routes like Booze and Broads, add great camping, caving, and Rocktown boulders nearby, Lost Wall really becomes enticing. Lost Wall is a predominantly trad area, with single-pitch lines ranging from 40-120 feet high. Again, the rock is sandstone and not as consistent as T-Wall, is mostly good quality. Notable routes include: Steggo (5.6 toprope), Black Pig (5.8 trad), Booze and Broads (5.9+), Linda’s Corner (5.7 trad), and Roger’s Corner (5.9-).

Directions from Chattanooga: Lost Wall is located on Pigeon Mountain near Lafayette, GA. From Chattanooga take Broad Street south towards Lookout Mountain. Turn left onto Tennessee Avenue south which changes names to St. Elmo Ave. Continue south on St. Elmo Ave. crossing the TN-GA state line, at which point this road becomes GA Hwy193. Continue south on Hwy193 towards Lafayette for approximately thirty miles to the intersection with Chamberlain Road on the right and Uncle Jeds convenience store on the left. Turn right onto Chamberlain Road and continue about three miles to the entrance to Crockford-Pegeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Turn right here onto Rocky Lane and keep speed down to 20 mph or you will be ticketed. Continue on Rocky Lane almost two miles through a series of switchbacks; the pullout for the Lost Wall trail is at the fourth switchback. Park at the trail head.


Rocktown (Lafayette, Pigeon Mountain)

Rocktown is a boulderfield located on top of Pigeon Mountain near Lafayette and the Georgia-Tennessee state line. It is internationally re-known for it’s high quality sandstone boulders. The camping is primitive near the ranger’s house at the bottom of the mountain. Check for seasonal closures due to managed hunts. Call the Armuchee Ranger District office for more information at (706) 638-1085. Please check all Georgia Wildlife Management Area rules prior to visiting. Notable problems include too many to list, but here are some classics: The Orb (V8), Turkish Resin (V6), The Vagina (V7), Digital Scales (V9), Big Bad Boulder (V8), Little Bad Boulder (V4), The Scoop (V3), Diamond in the Rough (V2), Brown Hole (V8), Croc Block, Tunnel Vision (V6), Splash Back (V6), and The Comet (V8).

Directions from Chattanooga: From Chattanooga take Broad Street south towards Lookout Mountain. Turn left onto Tennessee Avenue south which changes names to St. Elmo Ave. Continue south on St. Elmo Ave. crossing the Georgia State Line, at which point this road becomes GA Route 193. Continue on GA Route 193 south towards Lafayette for approximately twenty-four miles to the intersection of Chamberlain Road on the right and Uncle Jed’s Convenience Store on the left. Turn right onto Chamberlain Road and continue about three miles to the entrance to Crockford-Pegeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Turn right here onto Rocky Lane and keep speed down to 20 mph or you will be ticketed. Continue on Rocky Lane almost four miles through a series of switchbacks, past the Lost Wall pullout up the mountain. When the road splits, take the right turn following Rocky Road for 1.3 miles further. Turn left onto Rocktown Road (sign), a dirt road which leads 1/3 mile to the parking area. Trail head is at the right corner of the parking lot, next to the information kiosk. There is a flat trail leading 1 mile to the climbing area, although there are classic boulders strewn alongside the right side of the last 1/2 mile of trail.


Stone Fort, aka Little Rock City (Soddy Daisy, Mowbray Mountain)

This is quite possibly one of the best venues for bouldering in the United States. This area has been closed to the public for most of its history, but with efforts of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (seclimbers.org) and area locals this beautiful boulder field is now open on a pay as you go basis ($3/climber/day). Please visit the SCC website listed above for additional rules and to complete the required waiver prior to visiting, or simply visit the club house near the parking lot to register and pay. Notable problems again are too many to list, but classics include Storming the Castle (V1), Truth is Stranger (V2), South America (V3), TriStar (V4), Genghis Khan (V5), The Hulk (V6), Celestial Mechanics (V7), Space (V8), Psychosomatic (V9), Biggie Shorty (V10), The Law (V11), and The Shield (V12).

Directions from Chattanooga: Take 27 N to the Thrasher Pike Exit. Take a left on Thrasher Pike and then a right on Dayton Pike. In 0.7 miles turn left onto Montlake Road. At the top of the mountain take a right onto the first Brow Lake Road. Look for the Montlake Golf Club parking area and Clubhouse. Park in the “Climber Parking”.


Sunset Rock (Lookout Mountain)

Located on the west brow of Lookout Mountain, in the Chickamauga National Battlefield Park, Sunset is considered the birthplace of the Chattanooga climbing scene. Many of the earliest climbing developers cut their teeth and pushed the difficulty boundaries on the bullet hard white and orange sandstone of Sunset Park. Once you visit this area you’ll know why; friendly approach, beautiful vistas, and miles of quality sandstone make for incredible days of traditional or toprope climbing. Notable routes include Scream Wall (10a/b), Rusty’s Crack (10a/b), Alpha Omega (10b), Prisoner of Zenda (11a/b), The Prow (11c/d), Jennifer’s World (12a/b), and Bills Route (8).

Directions from Chattanooga: Take Broad St. south toward Lookout Mountain. Follow Broad St. until it turns into Cummings Hwy. Continue on Cummings Hwy until left turn onto Scenic Hwy. Take Scenic Hwy for approx. 4 miles to the crest of the mountain, through a flashing light, to a fork in the road. Bear right onto W. Brow Rd. Parking lot will be on the left within 1.5 miles. Note: Parking is extremely limited and is strictly enforced. If the lot is full, continue to the Point Park ranger station, which has additional parking for about ten cars.


Tennessee Wall aka T-Wall (Suck Creek, Prentice Cooper State Forest)

The Tennessee Wall is the “crown jewel” of the Sandstone Belt. Located on the Prentice Cooper State Forest, it is regarded as the premier cliff near Chattanooga, offering routes in all grades and styles (sport and traditional), with impeccable bullet hard rock quality and spectacular vistas of the Tennessee River Gorge below, this is must stop for the rock climbing connoisseur. The three miles of T-Wall cliffline offers one to two pitch sport and traditionally equipped routes, ranging from a walk in the park to balls to the wall hard. Here are a few sample classics of too many: Art (8 trad), Sugar in the Raw (11a trad), Prerequisite for Excellence (8 trad), In Pursuit of Excellence (9 trad), Jay Walker (7 trad), Golden Locks (8 trad), Stinger (12b sport), Psycho Path (13b sport), Twisting in the Wind (12b sport), Over the Rainbow (12d sport), and Respect for the Spider (14a) are but a few.

Directions from Chattanooga: Take 27 N to exit for Signal Mountain Road (Hwy 127N). In about 1½ miles, before the road starts to go up the mountain, take a left onto Suck Creek Rd (across from Shuford’s BBQ). At about 4 miles you will cross a bridge. Immediately after the bridge take a left onto River Canyon Rd. Follow this road for about 6 miles until you see the large gravel parking lot on the left and the trail head on the right just before the parking lot. Follow the trail to the base of the cliff, roughly 20 minutes of steep hiking from the parking lot.

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