Staff photo by Tim Barber / The Rock Creek store resides in the same building with Whole Foods on Manufacturer's Road on the Northshore.
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Representatives from The North Face, The Land Trust for Tennessee and Rock/Creek hold a community celebration June 6 at Handup Handle and Bar. Rock/Creek was named The North Face's first Specialty Retailer of the Year. From left front, Melanie Singer, in The North Face shirt; Rachel Bergmann, with The Land Trust for Tennessee; Sarah O'Rear, with The Land Trust for Tennessee; and Chad Wykle, former owner and current president of Rock/Creek (Contributed photo by Madison Eubanks — Rock/Creek).

Rock/Creek is the recipient of a new national award created by outdoor gear and apparel company The North Face to recognize retailers that partner with the company and impact their local outdoor communities.

The award comes with a $3,000 prize that was donated to The Land Trust for Tennessee to help fund an ongoing effort to build a park on Mountain Creek Road with bouldering, hiking trails, downhill mountain bike trails and more.

Pint cup and beer ticket sales at a community celebration event June 6th at Handup Handle and Bar raised the total to $4,520. Trail building is expected to begin this fall, starting with trails designated for all-levels of user groups.

"It is inspiring to see the community rally around this conservation effort, and we are grateful for Rock/Creek and The North Face for hosting this event to invest in the park and the work to conserve it," said Rachael Bergmann, The Land Trust for Tennessee's conservation project manager for Southeast Tennessee, via a statement.

The area would run from Signal Mountain down to Mountain Creek Road and offer users a variety of activities in close proximity to the city's urban core.

The trail network will add the first downhill mountain bike course in the city and will have several trails featuring an array of difficulties. The property already has about 20 rocks suitable for bouldering. Partners are working to create access to the boulders and turn the area into a premier climbing destination in the city.

Groups including the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Riverview Foundation, REI, Hydro Flask, International Mountain Bicycling Association, the Chattanooga chapter of the Southern Off-road Bicycling Association, Southeastern Climbers Coalition and Access Fund have contributed to the project.

The Chattanooga-based outdoors store was a natural choice, according to The North Face personnel.

"This was something we created to recognize one specialty retailer a year that has been a fantastic partner of The North Face brand in helping bring some of our initiatives to local communities," company national specialty sales manager Pat Duca said. "Also, a company that champions the outdoors and brings programs to the local communities that encourage others to get outdoors."

The North Face's mission is to help people lead a life of exploration and to explore wild places. Rock/Creek and The North Face have worked together in Chattanooga to implement that mission, according to a company release. In the last year, the two have partnered together on several community events. They put on a scavenger hunt hike at the Chattanooga Earth Day Festival, hosted a film festival and held an educational camping trip for Rock/Creek staff. The North Face is also the title sponsor for the Rock/Creek Race Series, a five-event trail running competition.

Rock/Creek was founded 32 years ago. Its mission has been to protect local lands while getting more people outside to enjoy them. The company was sold to Camping World subsidiary Uncle Dan's in 2018 but is still operated by local staff. The North Face helps Rock/Creek reach its goals and support the outdoor community through event support, collaboration and special donations, according to the release.

"We're so proud and thankful to receive this award from the North Face," said Rock/Creek President Chad Wykle, in a statement. "It's a testament to their partnership with Rock/Creek and their commitment to our outdoor community."

Contact Mark Pace at or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.