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Noteworthy Site in TAG: Castle Rock, Marion County, Tennessee

Noteworthy Site in TAG Castle Rock

Marion County, Tennessee

Activities: Rock Climbing, Hiking, Nature Appreciation

Easy to Hard

In 2005 the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) negotiated and signed a land-lease to access and climb on the cliffs at Castle Rock. Ten years later, in March of 2015, The Tennessee River Gorge Trust, The Land Trust for Tennessee, The Conservation Fund, Harvey Cameron and The Southeastern Climbers Coalition were excited to announce that through a strong collaborative partnership, Castle Rock, one of Southeast Tennessee’s premier rock climbing sites, would be protected and accessible to the public forever.

Castle Rock, which is a 30 acre parcel atop the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau in Marion County, Tennessee, is a forested property that contains a rock bluff that is clearly visible from the valley below and is popular among both local and visiting rock climbers. Prior to the Land Trust for Tennessee holding the conservation easement that protects Castle Rock in perpetuity while allowing access for recreational use, it was jointly owned by Jasper, Tenn., attorney Harvey Cameron and the late Sam "Bud" Werner, a well-known conservationist, veteran, businessman and landowner active through most of the last century. Werner's ownership was bequeathed to The Conservation Fund, which joined with Cameron to donate the land.

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) currently manages the property for rock-climbing enthusiasts and other uses through a lease agreement with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. The SCC has established nearly 100 sport and traditional climbing routes on Castle Rock, some of which they say are the best and hardest rock climbing in Southeast Tennessee with grades ranging from 5.7 – 5.13 and the hardest route being Apes on Acid (5.13d). The south facing sandstone formations rise over 120 feet from the bottom of the bluff, are over half a mile long and has views of the Sequatchie Valley and provide year round use because it is always sunny.

For full details on Castle Rock, check out Chatt Steel, a comprehensive guide to Chattanooga Sport Climbing.


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