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Cliff Closures

Updated 5-23-16

Mike Frieschlag finds his tips on Lost Digits in the newly re-opened 7.8-acre portion of Boat Rock (SCC owned) in southwest Atlanta

Pete Zollar eyes the top of the classic Mortal Kombat, which is now open at HorsePens40.

Kings Bluff was private land and has now been donated to The SCC.

The bluffline at Castle Rock, TN is now open to climbing.

The Wolf Wall at Steele, AL is now SCC climber owned and climber managed.

Michelle Connell devours Yum-Yum Tree at Jamestown, AL (owned by The SCC).

Half of the cliffline at Yellow Bluff, AL is now open and owned by The SCC.

A bad sign of the times. Beware.

Once again, Southeastern climbers inch closer and closer to opening more crags in the deep south that have been previously closed for years. In the South (and East Coast for that matter), the number one climbing access issue we face is the closure of cliff areas on private land(s). In recent years, we have seen huge successes with Little Rock City-Stone Fort (TN) now open after years of closure. Jamestown (AL), which has been closed since 1993, was purchased (May 2005) by The Southeastern Climbers Coalition and re-opened. Castle Rock (TN) is open (Dec. 2005) with the area leased by The SCC. The Woods Hill Boulders (private land) at Boat Rock were leased in February 2006 to allow more bouldering at the Boat Rock Preserve in southwest Atlanta. A portion of the crag at Yellow Bluff (over half) was purchased (Feb 2009) and a ribbon cutting was held in mid April 2009. On September 4th, 2009, The SCC purchased 25 acres of the Steele cliffline (along with adequate parking). Steele had been closed for over 20 years. In 2012, the SCC purchased Hospital Boulders in Gadsden, AL and opened to the public. Obviously, the tide is turning in climbers favor. We look forward to more closed climbing crags being opened back up to the climbing public. Help join us in this cause.

For every climber, the saddest site you will ever see (short of your climbing buddy decking) is a "closed crag". Unfortunately it is a common theme around the deep South. It is not hard to drive down a country back road and catch a glimpse of a sweet crag up on the forested hillside. But as you get closer, you see the NO TRESPASSING signs at every fence post. That site is just about enough to make you break down and cry. The South is blessed with hundreds of miles of crags, but unfortunately, large chunks of it are on private land. Some landowners are cool and let you climb. Others would just as soon break out the shot-gun and put a chunk of rock salt in the seat of your pants. Finding out which crags are open and closed is the purpose of this post - to give you up to date information to help more crags stay open and not get shut down.

The problems that cause climbing areas to be closed are easy to identify. Large crowds, parking in the road, excessive bolting, climbing trash, potential liability, loud music and attitudes are several of the things that have gotten stellar crags shut down.

What is the solution, you say? Activism!
1. Stay low key to begin with by keeping noise to a minimum
2. Leave the barking dogs at home and always pick up your trash (and others).
3. Be a positive force for the climbing area and always look for ways to help the landowner out.
4. Band together, talk to the landowner and pinpoint problems and look for solutions.
5. Try to gain alternative access that will put you out of sight and out of mind.
6. Raise money to help purchase or lease an access, or in some extreme cases --buy the whole crag. If we own it - they cant take it away. Climber owned and climber managed is a beautiful thing.

Below is a listing of the Closed Crags in the Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia area. The Southeastern Climbers Coalition's goal is to re-open more of these off-limits cliff areas in the years to come.

Check out the article on our Activist Corner page with more tips and info on how to open a closed crag on private land. Click here for the Activist Corner page:

  • Activist Corner Page
  • ALABAMA

    Jamestown (***) (partially closed) - The Southeastern Climbers Coalition has purchased 3.14 acre (1,550 linear feet) climbing area at Jamestown, AL. on May 7th, 2005 and re-opened a portion of this cliff to the climbing public. Jamestown has been closed for several years (since 1993) after a dispute with a local landowner who closed the access to the top of the cliff. The top of the Harvest Wall is private property - please do not top out. The southern portion of the cliff (past the large stone fin and SCC sign) is private property. Please do not climb on the Garden of Allah wall or any cliff area south of the SCC sign.

    Yellow Creek(****) - This area is privately owned and was closed in the late 1980s due to publicity of the area in a national climbing magazine which caused private landowner issues. Yellow Creek holds some of the steepest cracks in the deep south this side of the Tennessee Wall. Throw in a few hard sport routes on bullet sandstone, a water fall and a great swimming hole and you can see why this area is one of the finest climbing areas in the South. The owner has been contacted and a future meeting may occur to attempt to partially open the area for climbing. if you are interested in helping with re-opening Yellow Creek, please contact Gus Fontenot email: gusLF100@aol.com for more information.

    Yellow Bluff (****) (partially closed)- This stellar area was shut down in the late 1980s due to over bolting and parking issues. Rumor has it that climbers from the Gunks were traveling all the way down to sample the sweet hard routes (the first 5.13 in the state) put up by Jessie Guthrie and other climbers. The SCC purchased about half of the cliff (the right side) in 2009 and it is now open to the climbing public.

    You can read about the Yellow Bluff ribbon cutting ceremony at:

  • Yellow Bluff writeup
  • There are very few completely bolted routes at Yellow Bluff. Most are very hard run out trad routes with a few being mixed routes of which very few bolts were used. The parking was an issue, but the main problem was from the residents that live on the cliffs edge right above the best section (where the first 5.13 is located) of the cliff. The problem is their house is literally less than 100 feet from the edge of the cliff and to setup a top-rope or rappel you have to walk through their yard. The SCC has purchased the right side (1,100 linear feet of cliff) and it is now open for climbing. Please do not hike or travel down to the left side. The SCC is talking with the owner of the left side to possibly open it in years to come.

    Steele (***) - Climbers were kicked out of this crag years ago (late 1980s) for traipsing through a tomato farmers land. The "No Parking" signs are still in place to this day. Many have called "Maneater" the best 5.13 sport route in the state of Alabama and "Birds Nest" the finest 5.9 layback crack. The cliffline host a mix of fine sport lines, classic tradlines and a hillside peppered with sandstone blocs. The area is privately owned and has been closed since the late 1980's.

    **News Flash for Steele**
    On September 4th, 2009 The SCC purchased a 25 acre parcel (1,400 linear feet of cliffline) and has opened this area to the climbing public. This area has adequate parking and a trail leading up to the crag. The goal of the SCC is to try and purchase the entire cliffline (one mile plus of climbing) and open it to the climbing public. The SCC has been talking to adjacent landowners (spring 2010) to acquire the next chunk of cliffline to add to the Steele project.

    Check out the article on the Steele 25 acre purchase at:

  • Steele purchase writeup writeup
  • Peters Point (**) Located on private land. Closed. The SCC contacted the landowner in 2007 and they are not interested in allowing climbing at this time.

    Shade Crest Bluffs (*****)The real threat now is to the Shades Crest Bluffs where John Gill once climbed. Also, "Dee Tennessee" (another bouldering area off of Shades Crest road) is officially closed, and has been for a few years now due to location on private property--a guard rail and "no trespassing" signs stand in the way now. Shades Crest road cliffs are becoming back yards. Climbing on shades crest road cliffs may soon be a thing of the past, but the Friends of Shades Creek is working to preserve parts of the cliffline. Information from Lee Means leemeans@gmail.com.

    Tallassee Boulder Fields (*) - Mark this one out of your Rock n Road (book by Tim Toula) and list of wonders. The Tallasee Rocks (located below the Thurlow Dam on the Tallapoosa River of Tallassee, AL) are closed indefnitely. It is under 24 hour CCTV survelance. Do not climb here as you will go to jail for trespassing.....A few people once upon a time got to enjoy some cool rocks in the furthest south mini-boulderfield in the southeast. Contact Lee Means leemeans@gmail.com for more information.

    Seven Rooms Boulders (***) - This area is privately owned and climbers (and all others) have been asked not to enter his land.A local climbers has met with the landowner and explained that since a teenager fell and died up there last year, it is just too much of a risk for him to allow visitors. He indicated that the climbers had never really been a problem though. The area just got really trashed by four-wheeler traffic and four-wheel drive vehicles. He could not stand all the trash and beer bottles, and wanted to restore the environment to a natural state. He said it was best for him to close the area to all visitors. He would not want to have a clean-up because of the number of people it would bring. He wants to keep the traffic to a minimum. No resolution is being sought at this time.

    The Citadel (***) - This bouldering area is privately owned and located on top of Lookout Mountain. The Citadel is known for mind bending sandstone formations like "The Snail" and the mini-maze of vertical walled corridors. The local sheriff has run off late night partiers and campers from this area. If you drive further down the road past the Citadel you will see many areas now carved up into 3 acre lots that are now for sale. It is only a matter of time before the Citadel will also be surveyed off and on the block to be sold. At that point, it may be too late as the price of mountain land is rising every year. Maybe several climbers will band together and buy this tract outright. The SCC is currently negotiating with the landowners to have this area donated to the SCC and turned into a community park. If you are interested in working on this issue please contact: Gus Fontenot email: gusLF100@aol.com

    Red Rocks(*) This area is closed. The owners of the cliff have stated no climbing. No resolution is currently being sought due to lack of climber interest. If you have any solutions (or would like to help and spearhead the effort to open this area) please contact the SCC at info@seclimbers.org.

    GEORGIA

    Rock Mountain (**) - Located between Rome and Summerville, GA power land, Located on Georgia Power land which has currently closed access to this area due to post 9/11 security issues. Chris Watford has been negotiating with GA Power to allow climbing but no resolution has occurred due to Homeland Security type issues.

    Stone Mountain, Georgia (***) - This monolithic granite dome is located within site of downtown Atlanta and at one time had many routes on the granite slabs. Currently the area is State owned land, with a commercial park located below. No climbing is allowed. No real solution is evident at this time. If you have one, contact the SCC at info@seclimbers.org.

    Cloudland Canyon (**) - Located in northwest Georgia this area is State owned land with no climbing. This is one of the first places that John Gill climbed many years ago. Many a climber has hiked down to the bottom of the canyon and came back with reports of good looking boulders. The area is open supposedly one week a year for Outdoor Adventure Week (according to the book "Rock and Road" by Tim Toula). Climbing is not allowed for the remainder of the year. GADNR has indicated that there is no climbing due to the lack of emergency services in the area. It is widely known that the Chattooga-Walker County Rescue Services are one of the finest in the country. Someone needs to explain that to GADNR that they have a first class resource in their backyard. A letter writing campaign was underway during the Fall of 2009 but no real headway was made on this issue. If you are interested in opening this area, (or would like to help and spearhead the effort to open this area) please contact the SCC at info@seclimbers.org.

    Neals Gap Area (***) - Area south of Lost Wall, near Gayton Gulf - Pigeon Mountain near Burgess. There is a long cliffline and rumors of climbing. No resolution is being sought at this time due to lack of climber interest. If there is, we need tax maps and info on potential cliffline areas to be leased or acquired and possibly re-opened. If you are interested in opening this area, (or would like to help and spearhead the effort to open this area)please contact Brad McLeod - email: mbmcleod@mindspring.com

    Boat Rock, Atlanta (***) - Partially Closed. A mile of granite egg shaped boulders has come under considerable threat as the Atlanta development machine moves closer to devouring this area. A portion of this boulderfield (7.8-acres) was recently purchased by The Southeastern Climbers Coalition in June 2002 to help save the area for future generations. An additional tract of 4.5 acres was donated to the SCC in March 2004. The largest boulder in the park (EZ crack boulder) was purchased - along with the adjoining house in July 2006 by a local climber. The EZ crack boulder will be donated to the SCC Land Trust and be a part of the Boat Rock Preserve. In January of 2007 a 4 acre privately owned parcel was leased by The SCC to provide additional bouldering at the "Woods Hill" area. The Woods Hill area was opened just in time for the 2007 Boat Rock "Float the Boat" bouldering competition. The SCC is currently seeking additional parcels (Yellow Wall arete) to have donated to create a larger park. The vision of The SCC is to have a 40-acre park along the Boat Rock ridgeline to secure climbing long term. The remainder of the area is privately owned, partially sold off to subdivision developers. Contact Brad McLeod at mbmcleod@mindspring.com for more information.

    Rising Fawn (***) Areas in northwest Georgia to the west of I-59. Located on private land. The SCCI (The Southeastern Caving Conservancy) owns land in this area that reportedly has some bouldering. There are rumors of climbing but little is known about the access to many of the cliffs. No resolution is being sought at this time due to lack of climber interest. If you have more info on this area or would like to see a cliff at Rising Fawn opened, (or would like to help and spearhead the effort to open this area) please contact Brad McLeod - email: mbmcleod@mindspring.com

    TENNESSEE

    Bee Rock (South) (****) - Bee Rock (south) is located near Chattanooga, TN on Lookout Mountain. Excellent slabs, steep sandstone and "Mississippi moon" like holds keep you wanting for more. If only the access were a little better we could all join in on the party. But the access is open only to a select few people that know the owners. Bee Rock is privately owned and closed to the public. There has been some talk of a possible public trail to connect to National Park Service trails that would wind around the base of Lookout Mountain and possibly providing access. This idea is not currently being implemented by any group but may need further investigation into the feasibility of such a design. Tax maps and surveys were being pulled in the spring of 2009 to find a possible solution. If you have any solutions please contact the SCC at info@seclimbers.org.

    Bee Rock (North) (***) - (Bee Rock, Hidden Rock, Spider Rock and Monterrey Crag) Located near Monterrey,Tennessee in northern Tennessee. The Bee Rock overlook is maintained by Mike & Mirtha Kopec, who run a bed a breakfast there (http://www.bbonline.com/tn/gardeninn/). It is not certain whether they "own" the land, but they do maintain it, and make sure climbers leave by the posted times. Climbing is permitted and not controlled in any way at the Bee Rock overlook, except it is only open during posted times, just like Sunset on Lookout Mountain, bolting is prohibited. Bee Rock overlook has a few dozen routes at most. Spider and Hidden are larger (150 or so routes). Many of the routes were put up by Arno Ilgner, Mark Ilgner, Mark Cartwright, Eddie Whittemore and Bruce Van Cleve. A guide book made several years back featured 200+ routes in this area. It was overheard that the land owner of Spider and Hidden was upset and closed his land from climbing after the guide book brought more climbers on his property. Although access to Bee rock is ok till 5:oo pm, the access (or lack there of) of hidden rock and spider rock (north of bee) have been shrowded in a fog for years. It is possible that part of the land has switched owners over the past few years. A further investigation at the Putnam County Tax Office may yield more information.

    Spider, Hidden, and Bee, can all be accessed from the Bee Rock overlook parking lot, so they are all relatively close to each other.Not many climbers ventureover to spider and hidden anymore. Kids from TN Tech occasionally rappel at Bee Rock overlook. That is about all the action those crags have gotten in the past few years.There are some ok routes at Bee Rock withsome toprope, mixed, and sport (bolted in the 1980s by Arno Ilgner and friends) routes.

    Hidden Rock is the tallest and offers several stellar crack climbs. Monterey crag has short 4-5 bolt routes with quality climbing, a great swimming hole and maybe 15 routes up to easy 12. There is some good bouldering in the area. Monterey crag land is currently being developed (into some sort of neighborhood?). The land owner sold his land into plots for individuals to build houses over a year ago, so it will probably get closed shortly.

    Near Hidden Rock, there is very good bouldering at the Sheeps Bluff boulders, located on, yes, Sheeps Bluff Road. Some climbers have tried to sneak in to Sheep Bluff. The land owner on the upper side of the road has recently caught several kids over there, and let them go after a serious lecture. This past year he has been strictly patrolling his land specifically to keep climbers off. Information provided by Matthew Gant by email: mwgant1@tva.gov and Jason Reynolds email: buzzalink@yahoo.com. The SCC has contacted the owner of Hidden Rock (summer 2007) and is talking with them about the possibility of permission to climb or lease the cliffline. No resolution has been reached at this time (Spring 2008).

    Sunset Rock (*****) - Partially Closed. Arguably the finest rock quality in the deep south with many fine traditional routes throughout. All climbs south of the Prow to Rattlesnake are closed due to historical viewshed issues. The area is a national military park where historical reflection and study is paramount and recreation (although tolerated) is not part of the mandate. The SCC and the Access Fund www.accessfund.org have sponsored trail days for the past decade along with installing anchors, providing educational literature and financial support. If you are interested in working to help work on trail days and help with Sunset Rock issues, please contact .

    Dihedrals (****) North of Chattanooga. Located on private land. Closed. We are currently seeking more information on this cliffline as we would like to see this area opened in the future. Local climbers are talking with the owners of the cliffline and hiking access to see if climbers can gain legal access to the area (summer 2007). If you are interested in working on opening access to the Dihedrals, Contact Matthew Gant mwgant1@tva.gov for more information.

    Pinnacles (***) North of Chattanooga. Located on private land. Closed. We are currently seeking more information on this cliffline as we would like to see this area opened in the future. No resolution is being sought at this time due to lack of climber interest. If you are interested in working on opening access to the Pinnacles, Contact Matthew Gant mwgant1@tva.gov for more information.

    Grindstone (**) - A favorite of local climbers after a day of school or work. This area was closed after increased popularity from local climbers. The private landowner closed the area due to liability concerns. A solution may be found in the future once issues cool down. A resolution to the access problem is currently being worked on by local climbers, but no real headway had been made in early 2009. Contact Matthew Gant mwgant1@tva.gov for more information.

    Reel Cove (*****) A gold mine of traditional and sport climbing routes with a beautiful setting. The area is currently located on private land. The SCC is currently working with several land conservation groups to preserve this area long term. We are currently seeking more information on this cliffline as we would like to see this area opened in the future. The owner of the cliff area has been contacted but they are not interested in allowing access. If you are interested in working on opening access to Reel Cove, please please email info@seclimbers.org

    Europa (***) This area is located adjacent to a railroad line on Nickajack Lake (within Nickajack Reservation Boundary). This area is supposedly limestone and is home to really sick super hard sport routes put up by Chris Chestnutt in the 1980s and early 1990s. No resolution is being sought at this time due to lack of climber interest. If you have more information or would like to see this cliff opened, please email info@seclimbers.org.

    Burnett Point (***) This area is located near Chattanooga and little is known about this cliffline. No resolution is currently being sought due to lack of climber interest. If you have any solutions (or would like to help and spearhead the effort to open this area) please contact the SCC at info@seclimbers.org.

    The star (*****) system is based on stars having the highest attraction (rock quality, location, number of routes, scenic views) for climbers and 1 star having the least. We also throw in the MBC factor (My Backyard Crag) as many of us believe that backyard crags are important to the larger picture of climbing. Not everyone can travel to Yosemite or The New River Gorge. But most everyone has a backyard crag nearby and we think those areas - although they may not be 5 star stellar quality - are important to work on access and save. That said, Tennessee Wall and Sunset Rock are considered to be a 5 star climbing area while Leda and Boat Rock are 3 stars. The star system in this case is used to rank the climbing areas to establish a grading system towards which areas should be ranked higher in terms of access priority. In a perfect world, we would strive to save those areas with the highest quality and amount of climbing. This does not take into account factors such as imminent threats such as the area being destroyed (ie; Boat Rock) or local appeal (ie; Grindstone) which may move an area higher on the list. This is a purely subjective system and is based on humble opinion not hard scientific data.

    If you have additional cliff closures to add, or have information to share that will help open an area, please contact your local SCC representative or email info@seclimbers.org and we will try to help you in gaining access to an area. Log on to www.seclimbers.org for continued updates on access issues related to climbing areas and possible solutions to keep areas open.

    Thanks to the many climbers who have given information to keep the Cliff Closures Report up to date and keep local climber informed.

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    Published on: 2004-09-29 (38198 reads)
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