Convenient location, easy approach, nice rock, a mix of trad and sport climbs -- what more could you want from a climbing destination? Well . . . in the case of Leda -- longer routes and more of them. But this little roadside crag is still a worthwhile destination when you have limited time or T-Wall is closed for hunting.
The history of climbing at Leda is not well documented, and little first-ascent information is recorded in any known guides. For years, the only guide to the place was some photocopied pages that referred to the routes by letters of the alphabet. The most recently published Dixie Cragger's Atlas shows the routes by their actual names; this is mostly based on a handwritten guide by Matt Sims. Probably the most current resource (other than this site, of course) is Micah Gentry's PDF guide, which can be found here. This appears to get frequent updates by the author; it also includes Lower Leda, located just down the road.
Like other crags in the Chattanooga area, Leda is a sandstone cliff. The rock quality is mostly very good, and a nice variety of routes can be found here. Many of these are sport lines, with a number of easy routes ideal for the climber making his or her first lead. Probably the most popular route at Leda is Jody's Route, also known as Chris' Route, an outstanding 5.10c/d either way you choose to call it.
There's also enough good trad climbing at Leda to make bringing your rack worthwhile. Nice routes to scope out include Ox Stone Crack (5.8+) and Cracked Actor (5.10).
Leda is on privately-owned land, and a one-time liability waiver is required. A short distance along the trail is a climbers kiosk placed by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, where you can find the form to fill out and deposit in a holding box.
Editor's note on ratings: My experience of climbing at Leda is that many, if not most, of the easy to moderate routes are harder than the grade in the DCA. In some cases, I've taken the liberty of giving these routes ratings that I think are more in line with what you'll encounter at other local crags such as T-Wall or Foster Falls; in each case, I've also listed the rating given in the book. Anyone who disagrees with this rating method is welcome to contact me, or better yet, give it your own consensus rating.
From downtown Chattanooga, go north on U.S. 27 toward Dayton. Take the Chickamauga Dam exit; going left from the exit, drive almost three miles to the second traffic light. Turn left here onto Montlake Mountain Road. After passing a sharp hairpin turn, go up the hill to the second of two pulloffs on the right. Park here and hike back down the road a short distance to a trail leading up to the crag. The trail is steep but nice and short.
The roadside pulloff has limited parking, so if it's full, go back down the hill and park and hike back up. Further up the hill from the pulloff is a golf course/country club type facility; do not under any circumstances park there!
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Leda:
A very thin start on a seam and small crimpers leads to a great horizontal, long moves lead to a hueco and a good rest. Next up - slopers. Climb these to good rest and finish it up. Enjoy!...[more]Browse More Classics in TN
Since Dr. Topo went down, I was wondering if anyone had the .pdf guidebook mentioned in the area description. I did some searching and couldn't find it elsewhere online. I've got the DCA, but it would be nice to see some updated info on lower Leda.