Just south of Chattanooga is one of our best-kept flat water secrets: the West Fork of the Chickamauga. What Makes it GreatThe historic Lee and Gordon's Mill in the city of Chickamauga offers diverse paddling experiences ranging from a quick trip upstream and back, to downstream explorations that will require a shuttle. Upstream of the Mill's dam, the water is pooled and the current slight. Launch from the grassy area near the gazebo and go as far as you like, then paddle back down. The scenery is pleasant although there can be some noise from an industrial plant nearby. The water is deep and suitable for paddleboards. Downstream of the dam, where a designated launch awaits you, is the real treat. Depending on rainfall, the water can be swift in the area of the launch. If you're new to paddling, secure everything in a waterproof bag, just in case. The creek is surrounded by woods and often shaded. Just short of two miles in, you'll begin to pass Chickamauga National Military Park on your left. There is one "rapid" in this area which will vary with water levels; it's not likely to be dangerous but approach with caution. At 5.5 miles you'll reach the first take-out at Alexander Bridge Road. If you continue, there will be another "rapid" at mile 6.5 as you pass through agricultural fields. At mile 8.5 there is another take-out at Reeds Bridge Road, and a mile later the official canoe ramp at Battlefield Parkway (Highway 2). If you were to keep paddling, it's another 10 miles to Camp Jordan where the West Fork joins the South Chickamauga--but that's a trip for another day. Launch, ShuttlesThe facilities at Lee and Gordon's Mill include plenty of secure parking, a ramp down to the water, and restrooms. From March through October, Tu Canoe Rentals offers canoes and kayaks for rent and can provide affordable shuttles. The canoe launch on Highway 2 is located behind the O'Charleys restaurant at 2542 Battlefield Parkway. Note: while the pooled water upstream is great for paddleboards, the trips downstream can include shallow water, which makes canoes and kayaks the preferred choice.