Caving & Spelunking
The challenges involved in caving vary according to the cave being visited. In addition to the total absence of light beyond the entrance, caves often include the negotiation of pitches, squeezes and water hazards. Made for the high adventurer and the strong of mind, opportunities for caving and spelunking abound around the McLemore area.
Ellison’s Cave is a pit cave located in Walker County, on Pigeon Mountain in the Appalachian Plateaus of Northwest Georgia. It is the 12th deepest cave in the United States and is over 12 miles long, extending 1,063 feet vertically. Ellison's features a number of underground vertical pitches including the two deepest pits in the continental United States: Fantastic (586 feet) and Incredible (440 feet). These two pits lie on opposite sides of the cave. Nearby and parallel to Fantastic are Smokey I (500 feet) and Smokey II (262 feet).
Petty John's Cave
Petty John's Cave is a karst cave located in Walker County, Georgia on the east side Pigeon Mountain in the Appalachian Plateau of Northwest Georgia. It has a surveyed length of 31,490 feet and reaches a depth of 235 feet. It is 119th longest cave in the United States.
One of the absolute best places to visit if you enjoy caves is Cloudland Canyon State Park. Located in the Rising Fawn area of Georgia, Sitton’s Cave is located in this state park and has some fascinating features. Here you can see other-worldly rock formations, a large open room, and narrow passages that require crawling. Be prepared for this adventure with warm, waterproof layers of clothing. But this is an accessible cave that runs horizontally and doesn’t require ropes or rappelling. Expect to see skinny stalactites and an underground river when you visit.
Another cave worth visiting in this state park is Case Cave. This cave is exciting to explore because it involves rappelling, and you’ll need to descend about 30 feet down into the cave to get started. Local tour companies offer tours of the Cloudland Canyon State Park caves. Once you’re done rappelling, there are about three miles of cave to explore, as well as a cave lake.
Frick’s Cave is home to a huge bat population of endangered Gray Bats and the rare Tennessee Cave Salamander. It’s located on 33.8 acres of land in North Georgia in Walker County near Lookout Mountain. If you are professionally involved with caves, you can contact the SCCI to request a visit. Permits for access to the preserve can be requested online. The general public is discouraged from visiting due to the endangered species living inside. However, there is an appreciation day held each winter that allows members and their guests to tour the cave. This is a very rich spelean environment and a truly unique place if you have a chance to see it.
The region where Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee meet is the home to Byers Cave. This cave has passages that extend over five miles, and it’s a thrilling one to explore. It’s located in the Fox Mountain Preserve in Dade County and is owned by SCCI. It is more of a horizontal cave than a vertical one, but it’s still very challenging for adventurers. This cave used to be closed off to the public, but was added to the Fox Mountain Preserve in 2006. This preserve spans 448.6 acres of property.