Climbing South- Rope climbing and bouldering in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina

Climbing South- Rope climbing and bouldering in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina

August 22nd, 2012 by Carey O'Neil in Glimpse 2012-a

Nicole Cartee climbs a rock face at Foster Falls Small Wild Area Friday. The area is popular for rock climbers.

The Southeast is known for its college football and fried food, but climbing could easily be added to that list.

Several unique and exciting climbs can be found within the region.

"The Southeast is at times underestimated for how much there is here," said Becky Robran, co-owner of Chattanooga's Urban Rocks Gym. "It's definitely a hidden gem."

TENNESSEE

Tennessee has a good mix of rope climbs and bouldering areas. Here are a few highlights.

• Foster Falls -- Just outside of Dunlap, Tenn., Foster Falls offers some great hiking and rope climbing.

The namesake waterfall makes the spot scenic and creates a great place to cool down after a day on the rocks.

• Stone Fort -- This bouldering spot with parking at Montlake Golf Club in Soddy-Daisy is quickly earning an international reputation for its mix of difficulty levels.

It's easy to save all your energy for the rocks because the climbs are close to a parking area and don't require much of a hike to get to.

Source: Becky Robran, co-owner of Urban Rocks Gym

GEORGIA

Northwest Georgia has a limited number of climbs but makes up for that shortcoming with a dense area of unique bouldering rocks at Rock Town.

• This small "community" of unusually shaped rocks is a great place to pack in a variety of bouldering climbs.

Just north of the Chattooga and Walker county line, Rock Town is a level, easy walk to some unusual climbs carved by water erosion centuries ago.

One fixture, Champagne Glass rock, is known for having a base half its size.

Source: Becky Robran, co-owner of Urban Rocks Gym

ALABAMA

Several of Alabama's climbs can be quite difficult, but the effort spent is eased by the state's beautiful settings.

• Little River State Park -- This park has a large, well-developed climbing area with hundreds of routes to choose from.

Little River, near Fort Payne, Ala., has a reputation as being one of the area's more difficult climbs. But a variety of routes ensures climbers of all skill levels can likely make it to the top.

• Horse Pens 40 -- This family-owned park was opened up to bouldering enthusiasts because its unique, rounded sandstone was too much of a challenge to keep tucked away on private property.

The area's rocks have eroded in a way not found anywhere else in the region.

The park features a natural amphitheater and hosts a bluegrass festival every year.

You can visit Horse Pens 40 at 3525 Co. Road 42 in Steele, Ala., about an hour's drive north of Birmingham.

Source: Becky Robran, co-owner of Urban Rocks Gym, hp40.com

NORTH CAROLINA

This state's climbs pose a different challenge than others in the region. North Carolina's pitches tend to be hundreds of feet tall rather than the 60 to 80 feet typical elsewhere.

Pisgah Forest -- This climbing area has several large granite formations, some stretching 600 feet tall.

The forest is about a 30-minute drive from the Asheville Airport and has great hiking and fishing.

Linville Gorge -- Billed as "The Grand Canyon of North Carolina," climbers can easily spend the day dropping down into the gorge and climbing their way back out.

The gorge offers a unique challenge because of its craggy nature and gneiss rock.

The gorge is part of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, which sits just outside Morganton and has several climbs, hiking, fishing and camping opportunities.

Source: Phil Hoffman, owner of Looking Glass Outfitters

-- Compiled by staff writer Carey O'Neil