Rivers with gradient and unique geology are the primary ingredients to create great whitewater. And Chattanooga has both of these in abundance. Some downright steep streams are formed by the same series of plateaus and escarpments that the city is famous for, and for a select group of elite whitewater addicts, paddling in Chattanooga has been a pastime for decades.
Why? Because it’s home to some of the best quality expert whitewater streams in the world. And while beginners might find it somewhat difficult to discover places where they can cut their teeth—with the exception of the Hiwassee and a handful of others—experienced paddlers most assuredly will not.
Ocoee River—the nation’s most popular commercial rafting river—and the Tellico River—home to many Southeastern paddlers’ “first waterfall”—advanced boaters then move on to the big guns in the area.
The Bowling Alley of the North Chick is a great place to run laps after a good rain, and it’s a short hike and huck, easily accessed 20 minutes from downtown and within the Cumberland Trail State Natural Area. If that's too mellow, then Richland Creek at Laurel Snow (another Cumberland Trail section near Dayton) demands a slightly further hike to bag the steeper drops. For those who want the best challenge, however, Suck Creek's boulder jams and tight slots make it Chattanooga’s steep creek staple.