While Chattanooga is perhaps better known for its world-class whitewater, its flat water paddling scene should not be ignored. It is, after all, a city built on the Tennessee River and one that is also home to a vast amount of expansive lakes, meandering tributaries, and secret creeks.
The crown jewel for canoeists, kayakers, and stand up paddleboarders in the area is the Tennessee River Blueway—a 50-mile stretch of river trail that runs from the Chickamauga Dam Recreation Area all the way to Nickajack Lake and which includes a number of different interconnected waterways.
Along the way, paddlers can explore the downtown portion of the river, circling Audubon Island and inspecting the limestone bluffs of the Art District as well as the underbellies of the bridges. Following this section, paddlers round the contour of Moccasin Bend, and shortly thereafter enter an especially magical 26-mile segment through the Tennessee River Gorge—aptly called the Grand Canyon of the Tennessee—before eventually reaching the terminus at Nickajack.
In addition to this flat water staple, Chattanooga is also home to quite a few pristine creeks and tributaries that offer unforgettable paddling experiences. From the emerald green waters of Lookout Creek, to the best kept paddling secret in town at West Chickamauga Creek, there’s no shortage of options for flat water enthusiasts in the Scenic City.