As with all areas in the south, the climbing is better on a seasonal time scale. Since sand rock sweats during humid times during the summer, it's probably best to climb during early spring and early into late fall! The rock there is sandstone and is quality climbing, but be careful, there is some loose rock. It's usually not too crowded at the trad routes, but there is a toprope wall at the base that Vanderbilt University uses for classes and it is sometimes a little crowded.
From the ranger's station, it's about a mile to the cliff line (great trail to the cliff) then it's down the staircase through the namesake "Stone Door," which is the access route to the bottom that the early Indians used. The tallest section there is about 154 ft. With a great view!! This area has 14 trad routes and a few toprope routes that go from easy to moderate trad routes from His Majesty 5.4 to Rude Awakenings 5.11 and the only top rope area is at the Vanderbilt Wall that goes from 5.5 to 5.8 at 65 ft. and is at the bottom of the staircase, the rest is trad only!
From Chattanooga, take Interstate 24 west to the South Pittsburg exit. Go left toward Kimball and Jasper to Hwy. 41 and follow 41 to Tracy City to Hwy. 56 to Altamont. Turn right on Hwy. 50 and follow signs to Beersheba Springs, then follow signs to Stone Door/Savage Gulf. At the parking lot, sign in, then follow trail to bluff's edge(Stone Door).
From Nashville, take Interstate 24 east toward Chattanooga and get off at Pelham/Hwy. 50 exit. Go left to Beersheba Springs and follow Stone Door/Savage Gulf signs to Stone Door parking lot.
From Dunlap, take Tn. 8/111 and take a left at Tn. 339 and from there you will see the entrance not too far from there. The other way is from McMinnville on Tn. 56 to Beersheba Springs, then turn left on a side road with the state park sign and follow to a fork in the road and then bear right to the entrance of the park. Make sure you go to the Stone Door area for climbing!!
Had a chance to visit Stone Door/Savage Gulf this past weekend. The camping is great at Savage Gulf, not for the faint of heart in the summer. We got covered in ticks. Also a highly populated copperhead and rattler area. Many great waterfalls to see at Savage and some decent looking boulders, although not sure if climbing is allowed there. Stone Door is right up the road from the Gulf if you don't hike it through the woods. We found Stone Door to be packed with hikers. Once we started climbing Cornflake Crack we started getting bombarded with rocks from above. Even though there is a sign stating not to throw rocks. People kept throwing even after having a few yelling matches with them. After climbing we talked to the rangers and apparently this happens really frequently, so maybe weekday climbing would be better. Not sure why people enjoy the rock throwing so much, but I had more than one golfball size rock hit the belay ledge within inches of myself.
Also worth noting Stone Door is the cleft in the rock where Indians used to access the rim of the valley from the floor. It has huge trees that were in danger of logging in the early '70's before the Nature Conservancy began helping out.
Yes, Stone Door/Savage Gulf is part of the South Cumberland Recreation Area and no, climbing is not allowed in the Savage Gulf area. Although I haven't climbed Stone Door yet, I worked there as a seasonal laborer in the Summer of 1997 during college, and even then rock throwers were a problem.