Rangers and volunteers at South Cumberland State Park have embarked on a project to track the number of visitors to sections that are the most popular for rock climbers.
South Cumberland State Park is located within Franklin County and three other Tennessee counties — Grundy, Marion and Sequatchie.
An Access Fund grant awarded to the Friends of South Cumberland will use infrared trail counters to collect data on the number of rock climbers at the Denny Cove and Foster Falls sections of the park.
FSC worked with park rangers to install the counters at the two locations which are popular with hikers and climbers.
The data collected will give the park a better idea of the number of climbers accessing these two locations and will allow the park and FSC to better advocate for climber resources in the park, according to FSC Board Vice President Trae Moore.
“The initial trail count project will be limited to Denny Cove and Foster Falls, but if the project is successful, the Friends hope to expand the use of the trail counters throughout the park,” Moore said.
The counters work by using an infrared beam to detect when a person passes by. It then stores this information until the rangers retrieve the data.
The counters are positioned in locations to best tally all visitors to these locations.
Through direct observation, FSC volunteers will also verify the accuracy of the counters and develop ratios of climbers versus hikers to obtain more accurate data on the number of climbers, according to Moore, while also collecting raw data on all users of the trails.
Denny Cove, one of the park’s newest sections, was added in July 2016 when The Access Fund, a climbing advocacy group, and the Southeast Climbers’ Coalition, purchased the 685-acre tract with the help of the FSC.
It was dedicated and officially opened to the public in March 2017.
Previously held by a Brazilian timber company, Denny Cove is described as “a nearly pristine parcel with outstanding cliff lines, making it a priority acquisition for climbing enthusiasts.”
More than 150 world-class climbing routes have already been identified on the bluffs at Denny Cove, located just off U.S. Highway 41, two miles south of the entrance to Foster Falls.
The mission of the Access Fund is to advocate for climbers on a national level. To learn more, visit www.accessfund.org.
To learn more about the FSC, visit www.friendsofsouthcumberland.org.