Park on the side of Suck Creek Road, and you're moments away from one of the best trail running (or hiking) experiences in Chattanooga. This roughly 6-mile roundtrip takes you up steep gorges, along rolling ridges, and past some really underrated beauty on the Cumberland Trail.
In order to access, park above the trail crossing sign on Suck Creek Road. Hop over the guardrail, cross a small bridge, and then begin a rather brutal climb out of your first gorge. It's not switchbacked, it's steep, it's technical, and you may need to walk a little. But once you crest this first behemoth, you're in for a treat. From here until the next gorge, you'll find yourself running along a relatively flat ridge with just a few rolling ups and downs. The best word to describe it is: fun.
Eventually, you'll come to a deep sinkhole to your left formed by rushing, rain-fed streams. From here, the trail begins descending. And what a descent it is! After a mildly technical first couple hundred feet, it smooths out, and you can really fly down it for quite some time. Just when your lungs will start to tire for having to keep up with your legs, you'll be forced to slow down as you descend a particularly steep section into North Suck Creek gorge. Carefully cross the swinging bridge and then begin another grueling climb.
This second climb isn't as steep as the first one, and it is switchbacked, but what makes it difficult is its length. It's an extended uphill that initially takes you along a really neat Last of the Mohicans-like ledge (my favorite stretch of the trail) before shooting upwards.
At the top of the climb, you'll be greeted by the welcome sight of Mushroom Rock, a very neat geological formation that really does resemble a mushroom. Have a sip of water and a well-deserved breather, and then head back the way you came. The hill you just climbed up for so long instantly becomes your best friend, as this is the best, fastest, funnest descent of the entire route.
This route may not offer amazing vistas that you'll find elsewhere, but it's definitely one of the best trail runs in Chattanooga.