Sunset Rock - Trad Climbing

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The cradle of the climbing scene in Chattanooga: exquisite rock, friendly approach, and lots of high-quality routes.

Written by

Chris Watford


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

7.6 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

As long as you want


All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Land Website

Mountain Project



If any crag can be considered the "Crown Jewel" of southern sandstone climbing, Sunset Rock surely must be it. Located on the west brow of Lookout Mountain, as part of the Chickamauga National Battlefield Park, Sunset is considered the "cradle" of the Chattanooga climbing scene. 

It was where most of the leading sandstone route activists first cut their teeth and pushed the standards of difficulty. One visit to this area and you'll know why: exquisite rock, friendly approach, and lots of high quality routes.

What Makes It Great

Sunset Rock is a long, linear cliff line that runs along the bluff on the north side of Lookout Mountain. It is shady for most part of the day, making it a bit chilly in winter, but fairly comfortable in summer. You'll get some of the best views in Chattanooga, looking over the Tennessee River as it makes a turn around Moccasin Bend.

Who is Going to Love It

On the approach, you will pass a number of routes, some of which are closed to climbing, until you reach the base of Sunset Rock. This buttress offers traditional routes in all difficulties that can be easily top-roped or led. Note: There are no bolted sport routes at Sunset.In addition, this small guide excerpt includes the next routes lying a hundred yards to the north along the trail, stopping at One Ten, a very popular moderate warmup.   

The following routes are from the 3rd edition ofDixie Cragger's Atlas Climbers' Guide to Tennessee:

19. *S'More 8 Start: 10' left of Complex Dexterities. Climb a handcrack in a right-facing corner, to a roof. Work right under the roof and up into the smooth, right-facing corner. Continue to a two bolt anchor. 70'

20. ***Alpha Omega 10bStart: Same as for S'More. Climb a corner, passing small roofs and bulges. Finish in an awkward slot to an anchor. 70'

21. ***Flagstone 11aStart: 10' left of Alpha Omega. Climb up to and over a right-facing corner. Layback up the big flake above, and continue up the overhanging wall past two bolts. Ends at a two bolt anchor. 75'

22. *Total Eclipse 11cStart: 10' left of Flagstone. Pull past a short, black roof, then follow a short, steep finger crack. Finish on Flagstone or Carte Blanche. 

23. **Carte Blanche 12a

Start: Same as for Total Eclipse. Climb Total Eclipse, then the Flagstone flake. Move right across featureless rock and up a shallow groove to the top. 70'24. *Flute Loops 10aStart: 10' left of Carte Blanche. Tweak over a slight bulge. Follow a thin crack up to and over a roof using a positive but inobvious hold at the lip. Finish on the easy an anchor. 80'

25. *Another Fallen Angel 10a

Start: 5' left of Flute Loops. Climb the steep face and pull a roof. Continue to the top. 80'

26. ***Scream Wall 10a/b

Start: 5' left of Another Fallen Angel. Follow small holds for 15', then shoot up a short finger crack. Step right, following a right-angling crack system to the top. Ends at a two bolt anchor. 90'

27. ***Scream Wall Direct 10b

Start: Same as for Scream Wall. Step left at the end of the aforementioned finger crack. Go straight over bulges past a pine tree and finish up a left-angling ramp. 90'

28. **Euphoria 11b

Start: 10' left of Scream Wall Direct. Boulder past a small overhang with no protection, then dance up the blank wall above, staying just left of Scream Wall Direct. 90'

29. **Dysphoria 11b/c

Start: 5' right of Rusty's Crack. Make a long, powerful reach to good holds. Move left and up to a thin, vertical seam. Ooze left and up the final jams on the first pitch of Rusty's Crack to the belay ledge, then wander up the headwall above to the top. 90'

30. ***Rusty's Crack 10a/b

Climb a short chimney, pull a strenuous roof and follow a 4" crack to a spacious belay ledge. Pull the overhang above, then up an easy, exposed headwall to an anchor at the top. 90'

31. *Flash or Crash Finish 10c

Start: 5' left of pitch two of Rusty's Crack. Power moves and poor gear lead out an overhang. Finish up the exposed headwall. FA: Forrest Gardner and Rob Robinson, 1983.

32. **Pagan Rites 12a

Start: 5' left of Rusty's Crack. Pull straight over two roofs, then up a steep, polished face. 40'

33. ***The Prow 11c/d

Start: 5' left of Pagan Rites. P1: Boulder through an overhang and bulging, rounded arete to a ledge. 30' (11c/d) P2: Go up and left through white overhangs, then traverse right to the prominent prow. Proceed directly to the top and an anchor. 50' (11b) 

34. *Roper's Aid Route 12a

Start: 5' left of The Prow. Crank over the low overhang, then up a rounded, left-facing flake. Exit right along a horizontal to a hidden ledge. 40'

35. ***Sunset Girdle Traverse 12a

100' of fun climbing-sideways! Start: 15' left of The Prow, at a left-facing corner. Traverse right along an obvious, horizontal crack system, staying 10' to 15' above the ground, to the base of Alpha Omega. Can be done in either direction. FA: Rob Robinson, 1980.

36. *The Pearl 11b

Start: Same as for the Sunset Girdle Traverse.P1: Take a left-facing corner to a ledge, with a small tree. 35' (8 ) P2: Follow an overhanging corner and left-angling slot to the top. 40' (11b)

37. **The Edge Of Might 12c

Start: Same as for The Pearl.P1: Climb pitch one of The Pearl. 30' (8 )P2: Move out right above the lip of an overhang to a spectacular, exposed arete. Traverse right along a horizontal crack. Pull a tricky roof and continue to the top. 40' (12c)

38. *Hyena 12c/d

Start: 5' left of The Pearl. Toprope a steep face with slopers and crimpers. 30'

39. The Womb 6 

Start: 20' left of The Pearl.P1: Vibrate up an awkward chimney, then move right to a ledge with a small tree. 30' (4) P2: Climb a gully, past a roof halfway up. 40' (6) Continue down the trail about 100 yards to an obvious rock wall along the trail. 

52. **One-Ten 6

An excellent choice for novice leaders. Climb a left-facing dihedral. Move left through bulges, pulling through a notch in the obvious overlap. Finish through a slot to the top. 60'.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From the parking area, a quick 5 minute walk leads to the base of the main overlook, Sunset Rock proper. This is federal land operated by the National Park Service, and it's located in a very nice neighborhood. As a result, you will be noticed. Please be respectful of the people who live here, as they have a loud voice when access issues arise. Help us keep this place open for the next generation!

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Sunset Rock

Lookout Mountain, TN, 30750
35.000353, -85.354383

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