​Dedication Set for Denny Cove, State Park’s New Addition

by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer

Project partners will host a dedication ceremony on Friday, March 17 to celebrate Denny Cove, a new 685-acre section of South Cumberland State Park.
Visitors have lauded the cove for its rock climbing opportunities, raw beauty and 70-foot waterfall. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and other projects partners will hold the dedication event at 2 p.m., followed by optional hiking and climbing demonstrations at 3 p.m.
“Denny Cove is special not only for its climbing and recreation, but its significant natural and cultural resources,” said Zachary Lesch-Huie, Southeast regional director of Access Fund. “Climber or not, you go out there and it’s just an inspiring part of our landscape here, home to important flora and fauna.”
Access Fund is a national climbing advocacy group that was heavily involved with other conservation organizations in purchasing Denny Cove from a timber company.
“The project brought together all these interests and values, creating an amazing coalition of climbers, conservation groups and the state,” Lesch-Huie added. “Ultimately that diverse coalition is what ensured we could protect this place forever.”
There are more than 150 climbing routes for various skill levels along the bluffs of the cove, with ratings ranging from 5.7 to 5.14.
“I’ve climbed at Denny Cove quite a lot and needless to say it’s fantastic. Beautiful orange rock, great scenery, and top-notch climbing—it’s the kind of climbing area locals and out-of-town visitors will love to keep coming back to,” Lesch-Huie said. “There’s an enormous variety of climbing routes there, and whatever your ability level, there’s always a good, challenging route to try.”
The acquisition of Denny Cove helped make South Cumberland State Park—which covers more than 30,000 acres in Franklin, Marion, Grundy and Sequatchie counties— the largest state park in Tennessee.
Currently, Denny Cove is only open on weekends and trails are still under construction, said Park Ranger John Ball.
“We still have a lot of work to do to complete the trails, but it is walkable,” Ball said. “It does get rough and pretty technical the closer you get to the waterfall.”
Ball noted that trail work began in August 2016, with Access Fund and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition hosting work days to clear the trail corridor every weekend until October. After the initial work, the park began hosting trail work the first and third Saturday of each month.
The trail distance from the parking lot to the waterfall is 1.5 miles, a three-mile round trip, Ball noted. Other site improvements so far include an access road and a 100-space gravel parking lot. Future plans include doubling the number of climbing routes, building restrooms, offering primitive camping, and continuing trail development, according to officials.
Denny Cove is off U.S. Highway 41 in Marion County, about two miles south of the Foster Falls entrance. The parking lot gate is open around 7:30 a.m. on weekends and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
Project partners that helped make the park addition possible include Lyndhurst Foundation, Land Trust for Tennessee, Riverview Foundation, Access Fund, Southeastern Climbers Coalition, Friends of South Cumberland State Park, Open Space Institute, The Conservation Alliance, Tennessee State Land Acquisition Fund, Tennessee Heritage Conservation Fund, Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness, High Point Climbing and Fitness and River Rocks.