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 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.
The history of Deep Creek is a subject of some controversy. Climbing probably began in the late 80s; Chris Watford and Eddie Whittemore were establishing known routes in the 90s. The cliff is part of the Cumberland Trail State Park and access was mostly through private property, so climbing at Deep Creek remained largely under the radar until recently.
In 2007, the crag was "discovered" by Cody Averbeck and other area climbers. When they began establishing bolted routes, the park service learned about climbing activity from passing hikers and shut things down.
Fortunately, this familiar story has a happy ending. Local climbers and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) worked with park officials to reach agreement on a "memorandum of understanding" that would allow climbing to resume. Averbeck purchased a 38-acre tract near the park land and arranged to sell a portion of the land to the SCC, which raised about $25,000 to purchase this land and turn it into a climber parking lot. This parking, along with a trail established by the SCC, eliminated trespassing on private land, though some friction with local residents may remain.
Though there are a number of mostly undocumented trad lines, Deep Creek is currently focused on sport climbing. 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.
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.
Weather station 2.7 miles from here
41 Total Routes
['4 Stars',9],['3 Stars',22],['2 Stars',8],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Deep Creek
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Deep Creek:
Seasoned 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport, 1 pitch, 30'
Unknown 10 5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b Sport, 1 pitch, 65'
Unknown 5 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport, 1 pitch, 80'
Thin Mint 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport, 1 pitch, 50'
Marble Tea 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport, 1 pitch, 80'
Ermahgerd 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport, 60'
Knee Deep 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Sport, 65'
Ga'Jamit 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a Sport, 65'
Leakage 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
The Mole 5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport, 1 pitch, 75'
Featured Route For Deep Creek
Leakage 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b TN
: Deep Creek
Leakage is one amazing haul. Without any of the no hands rest that plague the other routes on the wall, Leakage requires some real recovery. The shakeouts are there but each one yields a little less, and the climbing doesn't let up until the top. ...[more] Browse More Classics in TN
Latest Regional Forum Messages
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 seclimbers.org/deep-creek
By Alex Gaskin
From: Athens, Georgia
Mar 8, 2014
Founds some keys to a honda in the parking lot. Putting them at the kiosk.
By Rockery Press
Oct 13, 2014
Deep Creek Free Day Guide
You can download a FREE Deep Creek Day Guide from Rockery Press by clicking on the following link: rockerypress.com/free-day-guid...
- Deep Creek Free Guide includes:
- Several days of route descriptions and recommendations
Nov 30, 2014
Hey friends of deep creek..i left the tea and crumpet wall last night and possibly left my grigri2..its one of the bluish gray ones and its on a locking biner that has an orange gate..ill check back on this forum so if you find it AND would like to return it..thanks.