Climber on Sandstone
Photo credit: Ondra Vacek

Climbing Orgs Team Up to Purchase, Protect Tennessee Crag

Tennessee residents and visitors have a new climbing cliff to look forward to.

The Access Fund and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) have joined together to purchase, protect, and develop Woodcock Cove, a major new climbing area in Tennessee.

Woodcock Cove is centrally located in Dunlap, Tenn., between Chattanooga and Nashville, and Huntsville, Alabama. The newly acquired SCC parcel includes 64 acres of undeveloped land and a full mile of sandstone cliff line.

Features of the zone include a 75-foot tall freestanding tower and rock quality reminiscent of the New River Gorge — high-quality resources that will certainly attract climbers from near and far.

According to the SCC, the area has 50 to 60 established routes, ranging in difficulty from 5.8 to 5.13. But officials say the area still has the potential for “at least 100 more routes, and possibly more.”

Southeastern Climbing Coalition: Adds Crag to Growing Portfolio

After receiving a tip from a local climber that land was up for sale, the SCC and Access Fund worked quickly to acquire the entire cliff line via purchase and land swap.

To complete the acquisition, the SCC received support from Access Fund’s Climbing Conservation Loan Program (CCLP). Over time, the SCC will pay back the loan to the CCLP, which works as a financial support system for local climbing organizations.

 

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The SCC is also asking climbers and enthusiasts to pitch in if they can, in hopes of paying back the outstanding $209,000 within the next 3 years. You can learn more and donate here.

In fact, the program has already helped support the purchase of 30 climbing areas in the U.S. In addition to Woodcock Cove, the SCC owns and manages several other climbing areas in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. Woodcock Cove will be the second-largest crag area in the bunch.

Sixty single-pitch routes already exist on the sandstone cliffs in the area, and the Access Fund estimates that there is room for over 100 more. When fully developed, Woodcock Cove will offer a wide range of climbing difficulties and appeal to climbers of all levels.

Woodcock Cove: Climbing and Local Economic Benefits

Woodcock Cove is located within the Sequatchie Valley, a largely rural region made up of small towns and large swaths of forests and agricultural land. Although the region has been noted for its high conservation value, Tennessee has also classified it as “economically at-risk and distressed,” the Access Fund reported.

The Access Fund, SCC, and county officials hope that the conservation of Woodcock Cove will help to further bolster an economy in need. Nearby climbing areas, including Denny Cove and Foster Falls, have experienced significant economic boosts from recreation tourism dollars.

While a small number of climbers have visited the area with landowner permission, until now, there has never been public access. Before it can officially open, the SCC will build a new parking area and a new access trail to the cliff. During this construction phase, access will be limited.

The SCC expects the new crag to be fully open to the public by winter 2021 or spring 2022.

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Austin Beck-Doss
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Austin Beck-Doss regularly relocates according to whichever climbing area is in season. In addition to covering gear and the outdoor industry for GearJunkie, he enjoys writing about music, culture, and personal observations from time spent in the natural world.