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Sunset Park Rock Climbing 

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Location: 34.9992, -85.3554 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: saxfiend, Brad "Stonyman" Killough, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: saxfiend on Nov 17, 2006
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View from the overlook at Sunset Park.


Stretching along the western face of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga is Sunset Park, home of some of Tennessee's finest single-pitch trad climbing.

Sunset has a long and interesting history, both for climbers and Civil War buffs. Lookout Mountain was an important vantage point for observation of troop movements during the siege of Chattanooga. Climbers began scaling the excellent sandstone back in the early 60s; Rusty's Crack, one of the earliest ascents, remains a classic.

Route development continued through the 60s and 70s, with pioneers like Tim McMillan, Stan Wallace and Bill Smith putting up numerous lines on old-school gear. In the 80s, the ubiquitous Rob Robinson and Forrest Gardner pushed the grades ever higher at Sunset with their ground-up trad first ascents of strenuous routes like The Prow.

Sunset has a great variety of climbing for anyone from beginners to the hardest trad leaders (there is no sport climbing at Sunset due to a total ban on fixed protection). New leaders can try their skills on routes like One-Ten, while 5.12s like Jennifer's World will make the most experienced leaders stop and think. And there's plenty to toprope for non-leaders.

Because it's a west-facing crag, Sunset is a nice destination in the summer months; it stays in the shade until well after lunchtime. This makes it a chilly place to climb in the wintertime, however.

Some important considerations:

  • Sunset is a national park, so to help maintain future climber access, be aware of and observe all park regulations. One of the most important of these is to be off the crag before sundown; this is strictly enforced and rangers will be waiting at the trailhead to write you a hefty ticket after sundown.
  • This is a residential neighborhood, and residents' attitude toward climbers tends to be hostile. Keep noise to a minimum and park only in designated areas (parking at the trailhead is extremely limited).
  • Erosion has been an issue on the crag trail, and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition has been active in work to remediate this problem. Stay off sections that are closed due to erosion.
  • Being an urban crag, there is no camping anywhere near Sunset Park. If you want to camp, you'll have to head over to nearby Tennessee Wall or Prentice Cooper State Forest.

The Dixie Cragger's Atlas is the guidebook for this area.

Getting There 

In downtown Chattanooga, take exit 178 off I-24 onto U.S. 27 north, then exit to Market Street. Continue to a left on Broad Street (going south) and follow this for several traffic lights and under a railroad overpass. Watch for signs for Ruby Falls and turn left onto a ramp; this is the South Scenic Highway (148). Follow this up the mountain past the Ruby Falls entrance, then turn in at the Cravens House historic site and park in either the upper or lower parking area. From the upper parking area, hike the wooded trail.

For access to Sunset North, continue up the Cravens House trail for about 20-30 minutes; this will bring you to the north end of the North section in the area of routes like Slip Stream and Bubble Bath. For access to Sunset South, either hike to the North section as above and continue through to the South section; or shortly after leaving the Cravens House parking, look for a fork trail on the right (Rifle Pits Trail). Follow this for about 10 minutes to a sort of access road (Upper Truck Trail) and continue another 10 minutes to the intersection with the Gum Spring Trail on the left. Take this fork and hike up to the main cliffline trail, turning right for Sunset South. NOTE: These two alternate ways of getting to Sunset South are about equal in length, though the Gum Spring Trail is somewhat steeper.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.0 miles from here

111 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',46],['2 Stars',35],['1 Star',12],['Bomb',2]

Classic Climbing Routes in Sunset Park

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Sunset Park:
One-Ten   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Sunset North
Blonde Ambition   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Sunset South
Afternoon Delight   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Sunset South
Walk in the Park   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 80'   Sunset South
Bill's Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 100'   Sunset North
S'More   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Sunset North
Stan's Crack   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 90'   Sunset North
R.J. Gold   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Sunset North
Wind Walker   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Sunset South
Second Sun   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Sunset South
Broken Arrow   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Sunset North
Train Time   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 80'   Sunset South
Rusty's Crack   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Sunset North
Silent Runner   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 95'   Sunset South
Jefferson Airplane   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Sunset North
Pigs in Space   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 105'   Sunset South
Flagstone   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   Sunset North
Back Street Revelations   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13     Trad, 60'   Sunset South
Cornerstone   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Sunset North
Jennifer's World   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Sunset North
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Sunset Park

Featured Route For Sunset Park
Rock Climbing Photo: stef humping, er I mean seconding Rusty's

Rusty's Crack 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a  Tennessee : Sunset Park : Sunset North
This route begins in an obvious flared chimney. Climb the chimney and work out a large roof via the splitter 4" crack. Pull the roof and jam the crack until it ends at a ledge. From the ledge climb the steep and exposed face to a set of ring anchors. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Tennessee

Photos of Sunset Park Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: My friend wishing me luck on my next climb
My friend wishing me luck on my next climb
Rock Climbing Photo: Jesse Guthrie 1987 Photo Roy simmons
Jesse Guthrie 1987 Photo Roy simmons
Rock Climbing Photo: My Wife chilling after topping out on Scream Wall ...
My Wife chilling after topping out on Scream Wall ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climber on Flagstone (11a)
Unknown climber on Flagstone (11a)
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunset north cliffs from the overlook
Sunset north cliffs from the overlook
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the overlook
The view from the overlook

Comments on Sunset Park Add Comment
Show which comments
By ChillFancy
From: Chattanooga, TN
Mar 18, 2012
Just giving everyone an update on climbing at Sunset. The climbing regulations are posted at LINK Please use tree pads when using them for anchors. You will get ticketed for bare webbing on trees. Hope to see you out there!
By Blake Cash
From: Chattanooga, TN
Sep 24, 2012
Why would anyone hike DOWN the rifle pits trail, across the upper truck trail, then back UP the gum springs trail? That's horrible hiking beta. You can just stick to the Bluff trail the whole's flat the whole time. From Cravens it's 1.5 miles to Sunset.
By Lee Collette
Nov 7, 2012

I have lost a yellow TCU. Would have been left this past Saturday Nov. 3 around either RJ Gold area or further down by Jug Mania. If found please email me @ The piece can be identified by turquoise nail polish on the under side of the center lobe. Thanks.
By kenny m
Sep 20, 2013
Found something at the top of "Fun with dick and Jane". Describe what it is and ill get it back to you.
By Rockery Press
Oct 13, 2014
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunset Park Free Day Guide
Sunset Park Free Day Guide

You can download a FREE Sunset Park Day Guide from Rockery Press by clicking on the following link:

Sunset Park Free Guide includes:
Driving & Approach Beta
Rules & Recommendations
Several days of route descriptions and recommendations
By David Koslowski
From: Atlanta, GA
Jul 25, 2016
A laundry-basket-sized rock got pulled off an overhang by a lead climber on Screamwall Direct (Sunset North) and hit his belayer this past Saturday. They both walked out of there, miraculously; belayer probably needed stitches in a couple places on his head, messed up his leg a bit; as a reminder please consider that sandstone can be weaker for at least a day after it rains (I know that's tough in this area during the summer, I know the sandstone is apparently higher quality also) and whatever your climbing choice in that regard please wear a helmet, for your sake and the people around you.
By wlevando
Nov 20, 2016
Is there any bouldering on Lookout Mountain/at Sunset? I'm heading to LM for Thanksgiving and am hoping to duck out a climb a few times. In previous visits, I've found a few small but okay stones in a little park off Oak(?) St., but some variety would be nice.
By Manderson198
Jan 25, 2017
Buddy of mine found a rope this morning (1/25), that was apparently forgotten (didn't appear to be stashed). If you have a description, send an email out to to arrange a pick-up.

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