Famous as a path for mountain bikes, the Raccoon Mountain trails are equally suited for an after-work trail run at sunset or for a early-morning weekend run. Hikers will enjoy these trails as much as runners.
What Makes It Great
The top of the mountain contains a reservoir operated by TVA, and the trail system circles around it. The trails primarily run along the outside of the brow and offer incredible views of Chattanooga and the Tennessee River gorge. These singletrack trails are typically in great shape, but they are technical (plenty of rocks and roots) so watch your step! There's no worse feeling than limping back to your car with a twisted ankle.
The traditional loop is approximately 13 miles of rolling terrain with some short climbs, although there are shorter alternatives. In 2014 the long-awaited Live Wire/High Voltage expansion, dropping 1,100 vertical feet to the Tennessee River and then back up to the rim, was unveiled. No matter where you start or which direction you travel, you're in for an entertaining run.
One of the Southeast region's best trail races happens here in May. The Scenic City Trail Marathon and Half Marathon brings together nearly 500 runners for this stop in the Salomon Rock/Creek Trail Series. The terrain isn't quite as rugged as other races in the series - making it the perfect choice for a first longer-distance trail race, or for a PR attempt at either distance.
Who is Going to Love It
The trails near the East Overlook are less technical and best suited to newer trail runners. At the other extreme, anyone will be challenged by doing the 8.5 mile Livewire/High Voltage extension that takes you down to the Tennessee River and back up.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
You can park strategically at the East Overlook, the Switchyard, or Laurel Point (leave the Visitor Center for less energetic visitors).