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Adventure Awaits in Greater Chattanooga, TN

Fall in love with the boundless outdoor recreation activities available in this region along the Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama line.

By Val Beerbower on October 6, 2021

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Chattanooga, TN / Nathan Lambrecht

Greater Chattanooga doesn’t pay lip service to an active lifestyle and healthy living. The 16-county region’s favorable weather allows for almost year-round opportunities to be outdoors and active, and investments in outdoor recreation infrastructure are paying off by helping residents stay active and giving the region quality-of-life leverage to attract and retain both employers and top talent.

Outside Magazine named Chattanooga Best Town Ever twice based on readers’ votes. Chattanooga, TN made National Geographic Adventure’s Best Adventure Towns in the U.S. to Live + Play list. Singletracks.com ranked Chattanooga No. 5 of the 10 Best U.S. Mountain Bike Towns with the Lowest Cost of Living in 2018. And Lonely Planet named Chattanooga best in the U.S. for water recreation.

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Chattanooga, TN / Nathan Lambrecht

Plenty of Parks, Greenways and Trail Systems

The region offers ample opportunities to hike and bike, with standout local parks, greenways and trail systems. The 5.1-mile out-and-back trail at Signal Point is a signature hiking spot in the region.

State and national parks are popular spots for trail riding, hiking and climbing. Among them are Cloudland Canyon State Park in Northwest Georgia, Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer, Tennessee, and Prentice Cooper State Forest in Chattanooga.

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Chattanooga, TN / Jeff Adkins

Get Rewarded With Stunning Natural Vistas

“Raccoon Mountain offers a spectacular view of the river gorge, and nearby Laurel Point offers access to nearly 30 miles of biking and hiking trails on the dam reservation,” says Scott Fiedler, Tennessee Valley Authority media relations representative.

“The Chickamauga Reservoir is popular for fishing, boating and swimming, featuring boat ramps on the reservoir and canoe access points on North Chickamauga Creek,” Fielder says. “The Big Ridge Small Wild Area is a 200-acre upland hardwood forest situated on a high ridge above the north shore of the reservoir at the dam. An easy 1.3-mile loop trail leads through the forest.”

The TVA oversees a number of recreation areas throughout the region, including reservoirs on the Ocoee River, Nickajack Lake and Chickamauga Lake.

Another popular destination − The Walls of Jericho − is located on the Tennessee and Alabama state line. This park showcases 750 acres of natural area within the 21,000-acre Bear Hollow Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park features a footpath that follows high ridges and deep gorges along the eastern edge of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau.

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Chattanooga, TN / Jeff Adkins

Cycle and Scooter Your Way Around Town

The League of American Bicyclists designated Chattanooga a “Silver-Level Bike Friendly Community” for good reason. Chattanooga offers over 56 miles of paved trails. Bike Chattanooga rents about 400 bikes to be used for exploring the expansive network that encompasses 42 stations.

Chattanooga-based Adventure Sports Innovation (ASI) has launched a program called ChattaScooter that allows anyone 16 and older who has a driver’s license to rent an electric scooter to ride around town. Portable scooters can be legally ridden throughout Chattanooga, including downtown, the arts district, riverfront parkway, Walnut Street Bridge, Market Street Bridge, the Northshore area and more.

ASI established three specific location sites to eliminate “dockless” situations of abandoned scooters lying around on sidewalks, streets and private property with no oversight by the rental agency.

Name Your Adventure in Greater Chattanooga

Adventure lovers will be equally sated in Greater Chattanooga. Rock climbing, the indoor and outdoor variety, is a popular pursuit, and the region has embraced all manner of adventure sports, from hang-gliding to whitewater rafting to cave exploring.

Swift-water rivers make the region an attractive destination for paddlesport enthusiasts. North Chickamauga Creek Class III-V rapids wind their way through remote gorges. Dunlap in Sequatchie County, Tennessee, situated on the Sequatchie River Blueway, winds 116 miles through the Sequatchie Valley with flatwater and whitewater experiences. The Ocoee River is popular among on-water adventure-seekers of all levels. “People enjoy whitewater rafting on the Ocoee,” Fiedler says. “In fact, this location was home to the 1996 Olympic whitewater slalom course.”

The Olympics aren’t the only athletic competition drawn to the region for its recreational amenities. The IRONMAN Triathlon competitions and the Head of the Hooch Rowing Regatta also take place in the region.

Regardless of whether one is seeking thrills, a natural respite or just the pure enjoyment of the outdoors, there’s no limit to the options satisfying all those desires on the water, in the dirt, along the trails, between the rocks and under the skies of Greater Chattanooga.

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