Beginners to pros find plenty of fun

Beginners to pros find plenty of fun

March 31st, 2013 by Lindsey Young in Fyi2013

Dylan Rigler works on climbing a problem called "Manute Bol" while bouldering with friends at Stone Fort/Little Rock City at Montlake Golf Course in Soddy-Daisy.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Nancy Soule paddleboards on the Tennessee River.

Nancy Soule paddleboards on the Tennessee River.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Learn to climb

• Urban Rocks Gym holds weekly classes for all ages and skill levels that include introduction, belay, indoor lead and self-rescue. Classes range from $15 to $130, and most require reservations. Call 423-475-6578 for requirements and reservations.

• The Adventure Guild teaches all ages and groups the sport of outdoor climbing. Group, private, beginner, sport and classes for those wanting to transition from indoor to outdoor climbing are available. Call 423-266-5709.

• The Tennessee Bouldering Authority has children's and beginner indoor climbing classes each week. The cost for each is $20 for four classes, $50 for 12, and they begin in September. There also are private lessons. Call 423-822-6800 for more information.

Whether you want to try out a new move or test your strength, the Chattanooga area boasts a wide array of venues for the outdoor sports enthusiast, including a growing number of the more extreme side of sports.

The area, blessed to have the Tennessee River flowing through, long has been known for its water activities, with multiple sites for kayaking, canoeing and waveboarding within minutes of downtown.

The abundance of outdoor options led readers of Outdoor Magazine to select Chattanooga as the best outdoor city in the United States for 2011. Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine gave the city the same award in November.

Getting involved is easy, with several clubs and organizations devoted to outdoor pursuits and willing to help newcomers learn the ropes. If you're not sure where to start or even what you might want to get into, check out Outdoor Chattanooga, a city-funded organization based at Coolidge Park dedicated to promoting outdoor recreation and helping residents and visitors get involved.

If your interests lean more to the extreme side of sports, the area has everything from a skydiving school to a motocross park a city-owned skateboard park. Likely the fastest-growing extreme sport in the area is rock climbing, and enthusiasts or beginners can try either natural or man-made courses.

Chattanooga's newest rock climbing facility opens this summer at the former site of the Bijou Theatre downtown. High Point Climbing and Fitness will house one of the nation's largest indoor facilities and will accommodate beginners as well as experts.

Contact staff writer Lindsey Young at or 423-757-6296.

Outdoor climbing

• Adventure Guild, 3413 Hixson Pike: Offers guided ropes tours and instruction. Call 423-266-5709 or visit for more information.

• Little Rock City, aka Stone Fort, at Montlake Golf Course in Soddy-Daisy; $3 per climber day pass; no dogs allowed. One of the most concentrated and varied boulder fields in the country, for climbers of all skill levels.

• Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain: Rope climbing for the experienced climber.

• Foster Falls in Jasper, Tenn.: Rope climbing. Leave time for a dip in the water afterward.

• Tennessee Wall: Traditional, or "trad," climbing using placed gear, for experienced climbers; 20-minute hike to reach wall. Located in Dayton, Tenn., in the Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area.

• The Walnut Wall: Located under the Walnut Street Bridge, it's open March through October and has courses for leisure and more difficult climbs.

Visit the local climbing gyms or visit the Southeastern Climbers Coalition at for more information on recommended climbing locations, climber etiquette and land stewardship.

Hang gliding

• Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding: Instruction for the beginner or guided flights for the experienced; new and used gliders for sale; call 800-688-5637 or visit for more information.

Indoor climbing

• High Point Climbing and Fitness, 215 Broad St. (opening this summer): One of the nation's largest indoor facilities; call 423-443-6008 for more information.

• Tennessee Bouldering Authority: 3,000-foot facility in St. Elmo; call 423-822-6800 or visit

• Urban Rocks, off Amnicola Highway: 10,000 square feet of climbing with more than 100 top rope and lead routes. Call 423-475-6578 or visit www.urban

• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: A 43-foot, 7-inch indoor rock climbing tower, 13-foot indoor boulder and 13-foot rock climbing, rappelling training wall. Available for use by UTC students, faculty, staff and alumni only. Call 423-425-5671 for reservations.


• Hiwassee River at Reliance, Tenn.: Great for beginners. The dam-controlled river has Class I and II whitewater rapids. The family-friendly river is great for kayaking, rafting, tubing or other watercraft. For kayaking, "If you have never done it before, make sure you go with someone who is experienced," said Ruth Thompson of Outdoor Chattanooga.

• Cartecay River at Ellijay, Ga.: Class I to Class II-plus.

• Ocoee River: For intermediate-level kayakers, the middle Ocoee is Class III-plus. For experts, the Upper Ocoee is a Class V river and was the site of the 1996 Olympic whitewater events.

• Lower Tellico River: Class II stream that is not dam-controlled.

• Upper Tellico River: Class IV river for experienced kayakers. Stream levels vary widely.


• For canoeing on the Chickamauga reservoir, above the Chickamauga Dam: Harrison Bay State Park; Booker T. Washington State Park; Chester Frost State Park.

• Greenway Farm in Hixson: Canoe along the North Chickamauga Creek.

• South Chickamauga Creek: Launch from Sterchi Farm on Old Harrison Pike.

• Lookout Creek at the Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center: Call 423-821-1160. The nature center offers boat rentals.

• Nickajack Lake near Jasper, Tenn.: Shellmound Recreation Area, a TVA facility. In the winter months when the water level is low, gravestones peek out from the water's surface, relics from an underwater cemetery.


• Chattown Skate Park, 1801 Carter St.: Open 3-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and noon-7 p.m. Sunday; $50 annual membership; $2 per session for members, $8 for nonmembers. Offers skateboarding, rollerblading and BMX bike riding.


• Chattanooga Skydiving Co., 330 Airport Road in Jasper: Offers skydiving lessons, tandem and one-on-one training using U.S. Parachute Association methods. Call 855-776-5867 for more information.

• Skydiving in Chattanooga: Learn to skydive with American Skydiving Network instructors. Call 877-976-0162 for more information.

Stand-up Paddleboarding

This emerging global sport, an ancient form of surfing, is quickly gaining local fans. Keys to its popularity may be the ease of learning, the minimum of equipment necessary to take part and the full-body workout it offers. Paddleboards and paddles may be rented in Chattanooga at L2 Boards (423-531-7873 or; River Canyon Adventures (423-488-1345); and SUP Paddleboards (423-421-1403 or


• Chattanooga Motocross Park and Battle Creek Motocross, 1285 Scruggs Road in Ringgold: Two tracks offer competition featuring rolling terrain and jumps up to 80 feet. Opens in August; call 423-821-6686 for information.

Rock crawling

This extreme form of off-road driving uses stock or highly modified 4x4 trucks, SUVs or buggies to navigate an obstacle course that might include boulders, rock piles and mountain trails. The Eastern Pro Series of the World Extreme Rock Crawling Championships are held on Brayton Mountain near Dayton, Tenn. This year's contests are April 19-20 and Aug. 9-10. Find out more at