Climb Like a Local: Foster Falls

Categories: Climb Like a Local

You haven’t truly experienced Southeast sandstone until you’ve climbed at the beloved Foster Falls outside Chattanooga. Get psyched for bolt clipping on thuggy tiered roofs, technical faces, and fun slabs. End your day like a local and take a dive into the swimming hole under a spectacular 60-foot waterfall.

Rock climbing in Foster Falls, Tennessee
Photo courtesy of © Micah Gentry

Top Ten Classic Climbs at Foster Falls

  1. Holy War, 5.9
  2. Bad Girls Are Good, 5.10
  3. Something's Always Wrong, 5.10
  4. Pillsbury, 5.11
  5. Wristlets, 5.11
  6. Satisfaction, 5.12
  7. Thieves, 5.12
  8. Kids With Guns, 5.12
  9. Darkie the Bum Beast, 5.12
  10. The Big Empty, 5.13

Atmosphere at Foster Falls: The scene at Fosters is a melting pot of hardcore and beginner climbers from all over. With routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13+, there’s something for everyone. In true Southern style, the scene is super friendly and welcoming. You’ll find locals from Nashville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga (these are the folks to ask for beta!), as well as families from out of state and a handful of our Canadian neighbors.

Avoid the Crowds at Foster Falls: As a general rule of thumb, the further west you go, the fewer people you’ll see. There are some awesome, less visited spots only a short walk from the main areas. Crags like the Red Light District, Wall of Useless Conflict, Paradox Wall, and Dogboy Village offer tons of routes from 5.7-5.12, with many in the 5.9-5.10 range. If Fosters is too crowded, you can head 5 minutes down the road to the newly opened Denny Cove!

Local Pet Peeve: Hammocks across the trail. If you’re hammocking (ok, that’s not actually a word) and climbing, be sure to take care of the trees and don’t block trails. Oh, and be sure to keep dogs on a leash.

Foster Falls Risks! Fosters is well known for copperheads and they like to hide in the talus below the routes. Unlike rattlesnakes, they aren’t very vocal, so watch where you place your feet. Also, the park closes at sunset, so be in your car driving away before the sun goes down to avoid trouble. We’re all psyched to squeeze every last drop out of the climbing day, but making the ranger wait for you—or worse, forcing them to hike in the see if you’re okay—isn’t cool.

Who Has Your Back at Foster Falls? Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) represents the local climbing community and works hard to protect climbing areas in the region. Check out www.seclimbers.org to learn more.

Foster Falls Local Tip: “Before heading out for the day, take a dip in the perpetually chilly pond and a swim under the falls...if you dare. Don't get too relaxed down in paradise...you still have the hike out!” ~Jonathan Brandt, Head Routesetter at Climb Nashville

Ready? Explore Foster Falls on Mountain Project.

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