My favorite place to go trail running in Chattanooga, which is a strong statement considering Chattanooga is a trail running mecca, is the Skyuka Trail on Lookout Mountain.
What Makes It Great
The variety, beauty, and seclusion of the Skyuka Trail will lure you back to this run or hike again and again.From the base of the mountain on Highway 318, the path climbs steeply for about a half mile and then levels out. After another quarter mile, follow the signs to Skyuka Spring. The trail is rolling with some mild climbs for about three miles. From the spring, you can take an easy run back on the Lower Truck Trail, which is mostly flat, to the gate at the southern boundary of Reflection Riding. You can hardly go wrong with any of the trail options at Reflection Riding, but if you turn downhill, you'll get to run along the creek back to the Nature Center, then take Garden Road back to your car. Your total distance will be about 7.5 miles. This loop is considered easy to moderately difficult, depending on your skill level and experience. A popular option for a more challenging adventure is to turn uphill at Skyuka Spring and do a mile of slow, steady uphill to connect with the Upper Truck Road. which parallels on the Skyuka Trail at higher elevation. After 3.5 miles, take the lower Gum Springs Trail downhill to reconnect with the Skyuka Trail and from there back to your car. This will be about a nine mile loop.
Who is Going to Love It
Experienced trail runners or long distance hikers will have a wild time (in the best sense of the word) on this trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Follow the signs toward Reflection Riding, then park on the road at the intersection of Highway 318 not far past the intersection with Garden Road. There is an obvious pull-off with a sign marking the trailhead.
The trail is inside the national park, so be sure to finish your run before dusk when the park closes.