Rock Climbing Paradise in Dayton TN

Avoid crowds, swim in beautiful creeks, climb sloping boulders and routes, and camp in scenic areas – this is Dayton, Tenn., rock climbing in a nutshell. Only 40 minutes north of Chattanooga, you’ll find a sandstone paradise for boulderers and rope climbers alike. The area has three major bouldering and sport climbing destinations each with open access free of charge.

Photo by: Elaine Elliott

Bouldering:

Dayton Pocket

Hell’s Kitchen

Dogwood

Sport Climbing:

Laurel Falls

Buzzard Point

Dogwood


Endless Options in Laurel Snow

The most popular area in Laurel Snow is Dayton Pocket – a sought after bouldering crag for local “try-hards.” Dayton Pocket has over 150 boulder problems scattered next to a rushing river. After passing by a handful of boulders, climbers will approach the infamous Vapor Roof on a proud hill overlooking the river. With over a dozen variations of problems graded at V6 or higher, the Vapor Roof is where local climbers test their abilities on some of the hardest problems in the area. As an additional bonus, the rock doesn’t get wet in the rain.

Continue walking down the trail and you’ll find boulders with backdrops so beautiful they deserve to be on the front cover of National Geographic! Iconic problems such as White Noise (V7) and Riverdance (V9) climb up bulletproof sandstone ledges right next to the Richland Creek. If the monumental boulders don’t allure you, the turquoise waters surely will!

If rope climbing is your preferred discipline, Laurel Snow won’t disappoint. Laurel Falls is home to a list of classics like Cracker Jack Kid (5.13c), The Jackal (5.13d/14a), The Last Boy Scout (5.12b/c), and Creekside Yardsale (5.10a). The supreme sandstone is mostly blank with little room to compromise between intriguing moves to ledges and slopers. Laurel Snow is a great winter climbing destination away from the crowds of areas like Foster Falls. You can also camp in the Laurel Snow Wilderness by requesting a permit from the park service.

Looking to climb in an even more remote area? Although route development at Buzzard Point started in the late 1970s, it still remains less traveled due to the hour long approach. After your quiet hike through the woods, you’ll be rewarded with classic routes like Fantasia (5.12a), Pieta (5.13c), Tweakasaurus (5.12d), and Soul Sounds (5.13a). If these are above your pay grade don’t worry! The crag also has over 15 5.11s, ten 5.10s, and a handful of easier routes.

Paving New Trails

In 2018, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition acquired a new access point for Dogwood climbing along with the purchase of the Hell’s Kitchen boulderfield. The new access point on the Cumberland Trail for Dogwood reduced a 6-mile hike into a short walk for climbers. There are over 100 problems at Dogwood, especially within the V3-V7 grade range.

The 10-acre property at Hell’s Kitchen was also purchased by the SCC and Access Fund. This secluded boulderfield is well worth the long hike if you’re looking for rock full of diverse features from steep pocket routes to crack climbs. Best of all, you can cool off at the creek afterward.

The SCC is still in the process of completing the Hell’s Kitchen and Dogwood land loan. Please consider donating today to help!

Unwind After Your Adventures

After a long day of exploring the Dayton climbing scene, relax with a local beer from Monkey Town Brewery or camp next to a scenic overlook at Dogwood campground.

More information on routes and directions at these areas, purchase a climbing guidebook from the Rockery Press.

Article by Elaine Elliott

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