Outdoor Adventures in Chattanooga, TN
Increasingly, Chattanooga is staking its claim as one of the country’s premier outdoor meccas. In the late 1960’s, Walter Cronkite declared Chattanooga the country’s most polluted city, and by the early 80’s the city was dying. Thanks to visionary public and private partnerships in the mid and late 80’s, however, Chattanooga has experienced a remarkable renaissance that continues to garner national acclaim. At the center of this revitalization is a focus on the city’s natural heritage and abundant outdoor pursuits. Located on a bend in the Tennessee River, at the southern terminus of the Appalachian chain, and only a few miles from the Cumberland Plateau, the city is geographically blessed. Surrounded by ridges and plateaus to the north, east, and west, and the iconic Lookout Mountain to the south, Chattanoogans enjoy world class hiking, trail running, backpacking, climbing, paddling, and biking—all of which they can access within 15 minutes of a now bustling and vibrant downtown scene.
The trail running, hiking, mountain biking, and backpacking in Chattanooga are spectacular, offering hundreds of panoramic views from above 1,500 feet, dense deciduous forests with some of the highest biodiversity on the planet, and unending opportunities for adventuring and exploring just minutes from downtown. In addition, the Chattanooga Riverwalk provides joggers, cyclists, and walkers with 10 miles of urban trail along the Tennessee River and the downtown corridor.
Chattanooga is a river city, founded originally at Ross’s Landing along the Tennessee River. Northwest of the city, the river cuts a dramatic canyon into the Cumberland Plateau, which locals refer to as the “Grand Canyon of the Tennessee.” Downtown, the Chattanooga riverfront is world class, and stand up paddleboarders, flatwater kayakers, and canoeists frequently put-in and paddle right in the heart of downtown. Their background? Dramatic bluffs below the Hunter Museum, the stone trusses of the remarkable 100-year old Walnut Street Bridge, nesting blue herons and Osprey, and bustling community parks along both river banks. The surrounding ridges and plateaus are also riddled with gulches and drainages that create renowned whitewater paddling opportunities for boaters looking to push the limits.
The mountains, ridges, and plateaus that surround the city are wrapped by dramatic sandstone cliff bands, creating hundreds of routes for trad and sport climbers alike. The woods, too, are dotted with immense boulder fields, and Rocktown and Little Rock City are iconic, world-famous bouldering sites. The Crash Pad, a local hostel, and its accompanying bar, the Flying Squirrel, were founded by climbers to cater to the thousands of climbers visiting and moving to Chattanooga each year.
With scenic rivers, lakes, and swimming holes, Chattanooga is filled with places to enjoy some time on the water.
The Chattanooga area is filled with Civil War history, and the best place to explore the conflict is at the nearby Chickamauga National Military Park. Here's a quick itinerary to help you get the most of a trip to the past.
Enjoy six of the best breweries in Chattanooga with this bar-hopping tour by bike.
Truman Smith has run 26.2 miles in every state in the US and on all seven continents, even Antarctica. And he didn't even start running until he was 38 years old.
Chattanooga's Passageways art instillation is tucked away among the downtown alleys. This 5k route will allow runners to see a unique side of the city that they might otherwise miss.
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