Tom and Tim are ready to hit the trail on a first ...
Nestled at the confluence of Big Soddy Creek and Deep Creek near Soddy Daisy lies a crag that has been known only to a handful of local climbers for the last several years. But Deep Creek is a secret no more, and with 150 routes and growing, it could become one of Tennessee's premier sport climbing destinations.
Though Deep Creek was discovered in 2007, it remained under the radar until recently. Access to the crag was mostly through private property, and the cliff itself is part of the Cumberland Trail State Park. When the park service learned about climbing activity from passing hikers, they shut things down.
Fortunately, this familiar story has a happy ending. A group of climbers who'd been developing routes at Deep Creek worked with park officials and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) to reach agreement on a "memorandum of understanding" that would allow climbing to resume. Two local climbers purchased a 38-acre tract near the park land and arranged to sell a portion of the land to the SCC, which recently raised about $25,000 to purchase this land and turn it into a climber parking lot. The SCC has also established a fine trail from the parking lot to the cliff; a grand opening ceremony is planned in the near future.
Though there are a few trad lines sprinkled in, Deep Creek is primarily a sport climbing area. With lots of overhanging sandstone, most of the routes that have been established to date are not for the neophyte leader, ranging from the mid-5.11s on up. However, there are some good moderates in a section known as the Tea and Crumpets Wall, and more could be coming as route development continues.
Some access notes:
- Please read the notices at the SCC kiosk. Everyone is in a hurry to get to the cliff and walks past these, but there's some important information at the kiosk that's worth reading.
- The Cumberland Trail is an environmentally sensitive area. Please stick to the trail and don't damage any of the local flora.
- Keep in mind that the cliff is on park land and that climbing is at the pleasure of the authorities, so the usual "leave no trace" admonitions are doubly important. Also, no new routes or anchors can be established without following the permit process noted at the kiosk.
EDITOR'S NOTE ON ROUTE SUBMISSIONS: Because there is currently no written documentation on Deep Creek, route names are unknown and ratings are educated guesses. This will change as more information becomes available.
From downtown Chattanooga, go north on U.S. 27 toward Dayton. Take the Dayton Pike exit; going left from the exit, drive almost three miles to the second traffic light. Turn left here onto Montlake Mountain Road. Continue up the hill past the pulloffs for Leda until Montlake dead-ends into Mowbray Pike. Turn right on Mowbray, then after a short distance turn left on Hotwater Road. Continue just under two miles to Old Hotwater Road and turn left. Watch for street addresses and take a left into the private drive at 11111 Old Hotwater. The private drive forks almost immediately after the turn-off; take the left fork and continue up the road until you reach the gated SCC parking lot on the right. NOTE: Please drive slowly past the homes in this area; it's vital that climbers be perceived as good neighbors.
From the parking lot, the approach trail starts at the SCC kiosk at the far end. Follow the trail through woods down to an old logging road; rejoin the trail on the other side of the road after a short jog left. Continue down the steepening trail into the Deep Creek valley until it intersects with the Cumberland Trail (marked with white trailblazes). Turn left on this trail and follow it down to Deep Creek; ford the creek and continue up the trail as it ascends the other side of the valley. After a short hike, an obvious climber trail will be visible; following this up to the cliff will put you at the base of Ga'Jamit (5.11d). Total approach time is approximately 30 minutes.
For more moderate climbs (5.9 - 5.11), continue along the Cumberland Trail until you cross a gully over a wood plank bridge. After a short distance, another climber trail will be seen on the left. Follow this up to the area known as Tea and Crumpets Wall; the landmark at the top of this trail is The Farmer Slab (5.12b), a face climb on the left side of a sizeable corner. Easier lines can be found to the left and right.
Browse More Classics in Deep Creek
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Deep Creek:
Featured Route For Deep Creek
: Deep Creek
The first route you will see at Deep Creek. After slithering up the funky crack feature, incredible steep climbing leads through an explosive crux at a beach ball sized hole. Manage the pump or be thwarted by a sneaky sequence at the chains....[more] Browse More Classics in TN
|By Chuck Parks|
From: Atlanta, GA
Jul 5, 2011
As far as getting there, it's probably faster and easier to continue up US-27 past Soddy-Daisy until TN-111 forks off to the left. Shortly after taking the fork for TN-111, get off on the Back Valley Rd exit and turn left. Go on Back Valley Rd for about a mile, and then turn right onto Hotwater Rd. Take Hotwater Rd up for almost 2 miles and watch for the right turn onto Old Hotwater Rd. From there, directions are the same.
|By Matthew Gant|
Oct 26, 2011
The parking area for Deep Creek is managed by the SCC and is gated and locked. Visitors need to know the 4 digit combo code to open the gate, then need to lock the gate back behind them (both when entering and leaving the parking lot). For directions and access info please visit www.seclimbers.org/deep-creek