Access Fund and Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) are pleased to announce the purchase of two bouldering and climbing access properties just north of Chattanooga, Tennessee. This acquisition secures a new climbing area, known as Hell’s Kitchen, and creates a critical public access point to the climbing at Dogwood Boulders.

Both properties, owned by the same private landowner, have been on SCC and Access Fund’s radar for years as high-value to climbers. When they went up for sale, Access Fund began discussions with the landowner to prevent the properties from falling into non-climber friendly hands. Coordinating with SCC, Access Fund reached an agreement with the landowner in late 2017 and went under contract in January 2018. Access Fund secured both properties on April 10 of this year, using $125,000 in short-term funding from their Climbing Conservation Loan Program and $6,500 of initial support from SCC.

“Both Hell’s Kitchen and Dogwood Boulders are remarkable climbing resources, with outstanding conservation values,” says Zachary Lesch-Huie, Access Fund Southeast Regional Director. “We’re thrilled to play a role in protecting them.”

Hell’s Kitchen, located just outside the small community of Graysville, is a 10-acre property adjacent to Cumberland Trail State Park. The area has never been open to climbing, and it features a densely concentrated boulderfield with free-standing blocks, short sections of cliff, and a labyrinth of hidden corridors offering hundreds of problems and a small number of short, gritstone-like routes. Boasting quality sandstone, varied terrain, and striking lines, this is a prized new climbing resource, comparable to the bouldering at nearby Stone Fort and Rock Town.

A few miles northeast, the acquisition of a 7-acre tract off Bluffview Road will provide a key public access point to the Dogwood Boulders, previously only accessible via a 6-mile hike, and can provide a new trailhead for the Cumberland Trail. In 2009, a large portion of Dogwood Boulders was preserved in a major land conservation acquisition that added thousands of acres to Cumberland Trail State Park, creating the Graysville Mountain section. But that purchase still left a portion of the Dogwood Boulders unsecured, with a lengthy hike. This new acquisition secures a critical access point that will enable the build-out of a new public parking area and trailhead off Bluffview Road, as well as protect a small section of the overall Dogwood Boulders and a portion of cliffline.

“SCC is extremely excited to support this project and see these areas preserved for future generations. We have a long history of partnering with Access Fund to protect important areas and access points, and this is another great win,” says Cody Roney, SCC Executive Director.

Access Fund currently holds both properties, with the intention of working alongside SCC to create sustainable access to the areas and eventually transferring them to Cumberland Trail State Park for long-term stewardship and climber-friendly management. The park has identified both properties as important additions to Cumberland Trail State Park, and is currently seeking approval to acquire the properties from Access Fund. Climbing and bouldering are recognized as welcome and appropriate recreational uses of the Cumberland Trail and other Tennessee state lands.

We need your help!

We need donations from the local climbing, hiking, and conservation community to finalize this project and complete the transfer to Cumberland Trail State Park. Access Fund and SCC are working together to raise $167,000 to cover the purchase price, transaction costs, and necessary trail and stewardship improvements to create sustainable access to the areas. Donations may be made at www.accessfund.org/hellskitchendogwood.

Hell’s Kitchen will require construction of an approximately half-mile long spur trail, stemming off of the main Cumberland Trail along Roaring Creek. The Dogwood Access property will require road improvements, a parking area, and a short access trail before being ready for public use.

About Access Fund

Access Fund is the national advocacy and conservation organization that keeps climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Founded in 1991, the Access Fund supports and represents millions of climbers nationwide in all forms of climbing: rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, and bouldering. Six core programs support the mission on national and local levels: climbing management policy, stewardship and conservation, local support and mobilization, land acquisition and protection, risk management and landowner support, and education. Since 1991, the Access Fund has supported 70 land acquisitions by land trusts, public entities, and local climbing organizations, totaling 17,310 acres across twenty-seven states. For more information, visit www.accessfund.org.

About Southeastern Climbers Coalition

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the regional 501(c)3 non-profit organization that works to preserve southeastern climbing areas for generations to come. Founded in 1993 to preserve the historic climbing at Sunset Rock in Chattanooga, TN, the SCC has since grown to owning seven climbing areas and working with public and private landowners to manage numerous others around the southeast. Serving Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, the SCC works extensively with public and private landowners to keep climbing areas accessible and well maintained.