Obed - Climbing

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Truly a climbing Mecca... Over 1,000 routes, some of the best sport climbing in the southeast, and a dynamic boulder field. Bring your friends, some good stories, and some craft beer and make a weekend of it.

Written by

Matt Guenther


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

44.0 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

Half day to a full day


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


$7 overnight camping fee

Land Website

Obed - Climbing



The Obed is easily one of the best, most diverse climbing destinations in the southeast—especially for sport climbing, but there's also great bouldering. It's only an hour and a half away from downtown Knoxville, and there are about 1,000 different routes leading up these beautiful sandstone cliff bands. The rock here is composed of hard, colorful sandstone and there are plenty of roofs, jugs, and slopers. Camping is available year-round at the Lilly Pad Campground and a local couple, named Del and Marte Scruggs, are gracious enough to allow climbers to camp for $7 a night. 

What Makes It Great

Eastern Tennessee has some of the best climbing in the region, and the Obed doesn't disappoint. The rock quality here is top notch and is a great crag during any season- check out the icicles during the colder months!The Obed stretches along the Cumberland Plateau and offers everything from easy/ moderate routes to some really stout, high grade climbs. There are even some higher pay grade type climbs like V12's. The routes are typically well-shaded during most parts of the year. The wall at North Clear Creek is especially good about this; it offers quite a bit of protection, even in the summer months. It's a nice cool retreat from the more exposed, sunny wall at South Clear Creek. Although, in the winter, you probably want to go to South Clear Creek because its warmer and stays dry throughout the year. If you have all weekend, check out the Lilly Pad Campground. Del and Marte are two of the nicest people you will ever meet and are walking encyclopedias on the area. There is always good conversation around the fire and a great community to share stories with. If you are unfamiliar with the area, swing by the Lilly Pad's General Store (in the campground) and pick up the guide book. Bring some friends, good stories, craft beer, and enjoy one of the south's greatest climbing destinations and one of the coolest campgrounds around.

Who is Going to Love It

As if the Obed wasn't good enough on it's own, there's also some great bouldering in the nearby Lilly boulder field. Here, you'll find varying grades suitable for all skill levels.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are several parking areas for the varying areas of the Obed. The most accessible location (as well as the most beginner friendly) is the Lilly Bluff Area, and can be reached by parking just past the Lilly Bridge over the Obed River. A trail across the road will take you to Lilly Bluff and to the Lilly Boulders.To reach South Clear, the most popular area of the Obed, park at the lot on Doc Howard Road. The trail behind the lot will take you to the crag- make sure to check out the Solstice Cave!


Obed Climbing

Knoxville, TN,
36.102021, -84.717067

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