Places We Protect

Clear Creek Preserve


A birds eye view provides a glimpse of a creek surrounded by forest.
Clear Creek View into Clear Creek from high atop the preserve. © Paul Kingsbury

Clear Creek Preserve offers breathtaking sandstone cliffs alongside rugged Clear Creek.



Why You Should Visit

This 73-acre preserve encompasses some of the most dramatic cliffs in Tennessee. The preserve starts at the waterline of Clear Creek, a major tributary to the Obed River. It then ascends to the cliff tops, an elevation difference of more than 300 feet.

Why TNC Selected This Site

The Conservancy acquired this preserve in 1986 as a gift from a landowner. It contains a number of eastern red cedar trees that are hundreds of years old—one has been dated to more than 760 years. Rare plants on the property include quill fame flower, hairy leafcup and climbing fumitory. Numerous bird species inhabit the area including barred owls and Eastern screech owls, red-shouldered hawks and broad-winged hawks.

In addition, by preserving the land along Clear Creek, TNC is protecting the water quality of the creek and habitat for rare and endangered aquatic animals such as the spotfin chub (a fish) and the purple bean (a freshwater mussel).

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The Obed Wild and Scenic River was added to the National Park Service by Act of Congress in 1976. The National Park Service has a scenic easement on the 73-acre preserve because it is within the boundary of the Park Service lands. The National Park Service and TNC work together to make sure that enjoyment of this remarkable area by rock climbers is compatible with protecting the area’s natural features and wildlife.

The magnificent hemlocks on this preserve are threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid, a non-native insect that feeds on hemlocks freely because of lack of predators. These trees not only provide shade and aesthetics for our visitors, they are also an important part of the ecosystem on our preserve. We have partnered with the National Park Service, the East Tennessee Climbers Coalition, the Tennessee Division of Forestry and other volunteers to treat hundreds of hemlocks to save them from the adelgid. We also have received donations to assist with this treatment. Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering or donating to help with treatments.




Old-growth eastern red cedars, Rare Plants, Numerous Bird Species


73 acres

Explore our work in this region

Clear Creek Preserve is one of the most popular destinations for sport climbing in the East. It draws climbers from all over the world who test themselves against its steep sandstone cliffs and its horizontals overhangs. There are more than 100 documented climbing routes on the property. Note that climbers at Clear Creek Preserve assume all risks in any climbing activities, and The Nature Conservancy makes no warranties as to the safety of any climbing activities. (Learn more about climbing at this preserve and along the Obed Wild & Scenic River.)

For hikers, the preserve offers a challenging, moderate hike along the cliff wall with views of Clear Creek before winding to the top of the cliff. There the preserve offers awe-inspiring overlooks of the churning rapids of Clear Creek. (Note that the trail is not blazed, and there is no trail directional signage.) There is also a hiking trail that runs along the base of the cliffs at the preserve, which also leads up to the top. It is a moderate hike, which can take 2-3 hours.

The waters of Clear Creek also offer excellent white-water kayaking for experienced enthusiasts. 

Dogs are allowed on the preserve on leash.