Lace up your walking boots and explore the beauty that surrounds us
The array of events and activities surrounding Chattanooga gives residents the option to do something interesting every day and night of the week. Whether it’s shopping, participating in a community garden, eating at some of our hometown establishments, utilizing our many fitness options, attending a potluck, enjoying nightlife/live music, or just breezing around the city meeting new people, the options are far from limited when it comes to finding things to do.
Most locals, or longtime residents know that as beautiful and dominating as the surrounding mountain ranges appear in the horizon, there is an equal amount of exquisiteness settled inside of it all, with countless hiking trails available just a short distance away.
For those that are new, visiting, or simply unware, there are well over one hundred miles of hiking trails located within a fifteen-minute drive from downtown, and seemingly an endless amount of exploration just waiting to be unlocked.
Sometimes it’s good to hike it out, and when looking for an activity to partake in, consider exploring one of these hiking options instead of a social activity.
The most convenient and accessible trails to the downtown Chattanooga area are at Stringers Ridge, which is a ninety-two-acre urban wilderness park, that has multiple hiking trails laced throughout.
The trails of Stringers Ridge offer many different hiking options, and it is the perfect place to go explore locally. People can go enjoy a taste of the wilderness, without necessarily having to commit much time out of their day at all. The trails vary from easy to difficult, but they are all pretty manageable for even the most novice of hikers.
Though it is located in an urban setting, the trails find a way to whisk people away, and make them totally forget that a city skyline sits just beyond the trees, however, the occasional breathtaking views of it are a solid reminder.
It is important to mention that Stringers Ridge possesses significant historical value, and was the location of educational and housing grounds for the Confederate troops during the Civil War era.
This is the kind of place local people can go to on a daily basis, to escape from their urban surroundings and reconnect with mother nature, while getting a real dose of history. Read the historical markers posted throughout the area.
Middle Creek Trail
(Off Suck Creek Rd. at the bottom of Signal Mountain.)
Calling this trail a hiking trail is a bit of a stretch. It is more like boulder/rock hopping up a creek with swimming holes located randomly throughout the stretch. It is an invigorating, and slightly challenging adventure that can be completed by novice hikers with enough effort and determination.
It is one of the most beautiful stretches of wilderness available in this entire region. The views and beauty of it is certainly unmatched. Waterfalls, caves, wildlife, and adventure are all a part of this glorious stretch of land.
A natural waterslide that drops into a blue hole awaits at the end of the creek for those enthusiastic enough to get there. There are challenging aspects of it, and not everybody will make it to the prize at the end of the creek, but those that do will be forever grateful that they did.
This is a world class adventure, available every day, right here in our back yard. Families can do it with their children, however, teamwork sections of the trail will certainly arise.
The trailhead is not marked, the entrance is off of Suck Creek Road, and is about a mile past the Industrial Compound on the right hand side of the road. The guardrail on the right hand side of the road is the landmark and trail entrance.
North Chickamauga Creek George Trailhead
Nestled roughly twenty minutes away from downtown just inside of the Soddy Daisy city limits is a place where dreams are made of. Often referred to as the Soddy “Blue Hole”, this dynamic destination is a must attend location for local residents, and visitors alike.
As part of the Cumberland Trail, this extraordinarily diverse setting has many options for hikers to take. It is a place that people can go to after work for a quick hour, or make it an overnight camping trip. With various trails that range anywhere from one to roughly fifteen miles, people can go at their own pace, on their own journey. There cannot be too many places in existence that match its awe.
With crystal clear swimming holes located all along the trails, it is an easy place to go unwind. One swimming hole is a five-minute walk from the parking lot, but the main destination that is often referred to as “party rock”, is about a thirty-minute trek. Once at “party rock” people can enjoy an astounding swimming hole, that hosts a giant boulder, towering twenty-feet above the water which people can jump from.
The experience is simply incredible. Go experience this awesome trail, and the famous “party rock”.
Rainbow Lake from Signal Point Trail
Located on top of Signal Mountain is the breathtaking Rainbow lake. A trail that starts at Signal Point leads the way to this hidden treasure. The hike is often utilized by families due to the relative ease associated with the adventure. It is certainly a trail that families can utilize, and one that beginning hikers can venture on.
As if the view from Signal Point was not worth it in its self, the big money payoff for taking this trail is the trail itself. The views that coincide with it are indescribable, it will take people worlds away, yet it is a fifteen-minute drive to the downtown area. After reconnecting with mother nature on this glorious trail, the hikers get to enjoy all the wonders that Rainbow Lake has to offer. It is kind of a win, win situation.
A part of the trail has a suspension bridge that is always a favorite option for the more adventurous hikers. Do yourself a favor and go hike this trail.
From Cravens House on Lookout Mountain to Sunset Rock
This is a very rewarding trail. Where people can certainly just drive to Sunset Rock and walk down some stairs to get to it, there is a much better way to experience it. Taking the trail from the Cravens House to Sunset Rock is a marvelous thing.
The trail starts out very gradual, but eventually opens up to some pretty intense hiking. The journey up Lookout Mountain can be testing at times, but for those that push through, they can gain a great sense of accomplishment and self-confidence at the end. Once people make it through the burn and arrive to the rock, they get to experience the captivating view that they earned. Nobody gave them that view, they had to fight to see that view.
There is no better way to spend a couple of hours in all of Chattanooga beyond hiking this glorious trail. For those that want to carry on, an option to continue up the mountain is theirs; and it is beyond advisable to do. Just past Sunset Rock is an old civil war fort, that is mostly available to explore. The view from it is a panoramic of the whole city and beyond. With a powerful viewpoint, the mounted cannons are a dead giveaway that it was a pivotal force for the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
Even after all the awe, the trail does not stop there, it continues all the way to the top of Lookout Mountain, where views of the city are jaw dropping. This trail is soul medicine, take some.
The Tennessee Riverwalk
The Tennessee Riverwalk is truly amazing. While it is not the best escape into the wilderness and away from people, it still remains Chattanooga’s champion trail.
A paved trail that runs along the Tennessee River, spanning from the TVA’s Chickamauga Dam, running through Downtown Chattanooga, and going all the way to Saint Elmo near Lookout Mountain, it’s truly magnificent.
With various parks and recreation areas all along the way, opportunities to stop to use the bathrooms, water fountains, and to bask in natural beauty are constant. Signage at entry points, directional, and interpretive signs help people stay on course. Fishing piers, boat docks, boaters navigating the river are available on the route. Security is provided by park rangers that patrol the trail 24/7, so that everybody can feel safe while on their adventure.
The Tennessee Riverwalk is a mesmerizing experience, and something that should be done by any and every one.
It is a very exciting time to live in Chattanooga, with all of the happenings around town, it is easy to fall into the habit of only doing and seeking actions that take place inside of the city. A galaxy of activities is at our fingertips daily, but we must remember that a whole entire galaxy of hiking trails and nature is merely steps away from us.
If there are that many miles of trails and adventures within a fifteen-minute drive of downtown, it is a wonder how many exist an hour away? Let’s all go on a relentless journey to find out.