Backpacking/Camping in Chattanooga, TN
About Chattanooga Backpacking/Camping
The great thing about Chattanooga for backpacking and camping enthusiasts is that it’s basically located right at the epicenter for many of the Southeast’s best wilderness areas and parks. Within a 3 hour radius, weekend warriors can find everything from towering waterfalls in Central Tennessee, to dense forests in North Georgia and Alabama, to unmatched scenery and biodiversity in the nearby Smokies.
And even closer to home, Chattanooga is quite blessed in terms of overnighting opportunities in the woods. Only 10 miles west of downtown, with over 6,000 acres of protected land and 35 miles of hiking trails, Prentice Cooper State Forest is an outdoor mecca right in Chattanooga's backyard. The forest is situated above the Tennessee River Gorge—a 26 mile canyon referred to by locals as the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee, with bluffs rising over 1,000 feet from the undulating river below.
Just 45 minutes from downtown, on the backside of Lookout Mountain, is one of Georgia’s most beautiful state parks: the one and only, Cloudland Canyon. Offering spectacular views and exceptional, rugged hiking—not to mention large waterfalls and gurgling creeks—Cloudland makes for an idyllic weekend getaway, to say the least.
Just over an hour east of Chattanooga, backpackers and campers can find the Big Frog Wilderness—one of the largest wilderness areas east of the Mississippi, as well as an area home to some of the oldest mountains in the world. The primitive camping along these rhododendron-lined mountain brooks is exceptional.
Some of the oldest mountains in the world as well as the western-most peaks in Appalachia, make the Big Frog Wilderness something very special indeed.
Prentice Cooper is an absolute gem for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, and it's located right in Chattanooga's backyard.
The Possum Creek section of the Cumberland Trail is an excellent 10-mile route, offering everything from steep difficult terrain to a peaceful stroll along the creek. While it's great for hikers and advanced trail runners, this trail also offers the perfect opportunity for a short overnighter.
Savage Gulf is one of Tennessee's most beautiful wilderness areas, offering over 50 miles of trails and views of some of the area's most pristine waterfalls.
Cloudland Canyon is one of the most beautiful river gulches in the Appalachian range, offering stunning views, rugged hiking, and excellent camping opportunities.
Creek crossings, climbs, mountain vistas, and waterfalls make this wilderness area an absolute dream come true for hikers and backpackers.
A weekend excursion through the serene, friendly city of Chattanooga and its outer reaches puts you in touch with the natural wonders of Appalachia.
With 56 state parks and an abundance of other public and private recreational areas throughout the region, Tennessee is a paradise for those wanting to get their hair wet when it’s nice outside.
More of a shrine to the Alps than a simple walk in the mountains, hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the most exceptional backcountry adventures in the world.
Get outside and an explore the Chattanooga area at the monthlong RiverRocks Festival, which features rock climbing, paddling, trail running, mountain biking, hiking and more in a festival atmosphere.
In the sweltering summer of 2016, our Associate Editor ran Chattanooga's toughest trail everyday for a month. This is his story.
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