Chattanooga is well-known for having some of the best sandstone crags in the country, as well as great climbing temperatures for most of the year. Until summer, that is. Once the warm, humid weather strikes, climbers in the area put the pads, booties, and hand warmers away and head for the shade at tree-covered and north-facing crags. As the sport and trad season creeps on so will the heat and humidity, soaking even your lightest base layer. Luckily, many of our favorite crags are also near creeks, waterfalls, and rivers, providing a place for you to cool off after a long day of sending.
Here are our top four summer sport- and trad-crags and the closest swimming holes to enjoy a post-climb dip.
1. Foster Falls
Foster Falls is the most obvious of all climbing-crag-swimming-hole combos, and it really couldn't be any more conveniently located. The falls, of which the state park bears its name, sit just below the trailhead to the crag, making for the perfect pit stop at the end of your sending day. The rocky descent ends with a wooden hanging bridge over the creek that is fed by the falls.
Immediately head right and the Foster Falls pool is right in front of you, just waiting for you to dip your toes. Though generally busy on hot summer days, the pool is large enough to accommodate both climbers and other visitors. Swim under and behind the 80 foot waterfall at your own risk.
2. Leda and North Chickamauga Creek
The closest sport crag in Chattanooga is not only a short 20 minute drive from downtown but also across the road from North Chickamauga Creek on Mowbray Mountain. Leda is a popular spot for after-work climbing but also sees considerable traffic on the weekends. Parking is easy and plentiful, and a short walk down a wide path takes you down to the creek.
You can go in for a quick dip right there or hike along and hop the rocks of the creek to find your own personal refreshing pool of water. The area is usually riddled with poison ivy in the summers, so make sure to stay on the well-worn paths to avoid any unpleasant experiences.
3. High Point Climbing and Fitness and The Tennessee River
Jumping in the river may not be the first thing you think about while visiting downtown Chattanooga, but maybe it should be. It seems like each and every day, there are more and more people heading to the river to enjoy a casual Stand Up Paddle, kayak, or open-swim session. And after an afternoon of climbing at the largest (and one of the most unique climbing gyms in the country), spending the rest of the evening on the river is well deserved and entirely rewarding.
If you don't have your own board, you can rent one at L2 Outside , conveniently located just two blocks from the climbing gym and right across the street from a river put-in beneath Market Street Bridge. They will even carry the board down to the water for you!
4. Deep Creek
Deep Creek is much more of a rural crag than others you'll find in the Chattanooga area, and one of its most-loved features is that you have the choice of taking a soak while climbing (!), as well as post-climbing. The routes Cool Watas' (5.12d) and Dunking Booth (5.12c) are characterized by their slightly wet descents that land you right over the creek.
And if you manage to stay dry, the creek at the bottom of the trail, and below the hanging bridge, is an excellent spot to cool off. The approach is rocky and often very slick, so wear good shoes and leave your climbing gear at the bridge for easier navigation.