This week, Chattanooga welcomes thousands of athletes and their families for what should be an incredible first IRONMAN Chattanooga. Knowing where to swim, bike, run, explore, and eat during your time in Chattanooga, whether you're competing in the event, or supporting a competitor, can help ensure a truly memorable experience. RootsRated and IRONMAN have teamed up to bring athletes and their families a series of insider's guides for swimming, cycling, running, exploring, and eating in the Scenic City. Hope you enjoy, and we'll see you out there!
1. IRONMAN Marathon Course
What Makes it Great: Cycling the run course is a great way for participants to prepare themselves for what to expect on the the run. Starting from downtown on Chattanooga's beautiful riverfront, cross the Walnut Street Bridge (one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world). This is one of the best stretches of the course, allowing cyclists to take in some of Chattanooga's most fantastic views of Lookout Mountain, Stringer's Ridge, the Hunter Art Museum, and the city's burgeoning North Shore District. And then it's into the hills of North Chattanooga. This section is suburban, taking cyclists through the hilly Riverview neighborhood. The course then winds along Hixson Pike and eventually loops back on itself, bringing cyclists back downtown, where they will circle the downtown perimeter, before finishing at Chattanooga's riverfront.
Additional information and directions: Race Course Map
2. River Walk
What Makes it Great: Chattanooga's River Walk extends 7.5 miles from the Chickamauga Dam to Ross' Landing in downtown Chattanooga. The Riverwalk itself is a wide concrete path that extends entirely along the Tennessee River. With several entry points and parking lots, you can choose your preferred distance, but if you’re starting from downtown, there’s no better place to start than the Chattanooga Riverfront at Ross’ Landing. This is a beautiful and accessible stretch of smooth asphalt to spin and get the blood flowing. Best of all, it’s car-free.
Additional information and directions: The Chattanooga RiverWalk via RootsRated.
3. Chickamauga Battlefield
What Makes it Great: The Chickamauga Battlefield offers some of the most beautiful (and safest) roads for cyclists in the Chattanooga area. This park, the site of a critical Civil War battle, offers miles of smooth asphalt, most of which features a designated pedestrian lane and single-direction car traffic. Nine miles from downtown, getting here requires a 15-20 minute drive, but if you appreciate history and are in the mood for serene rolling countryside without vehicles speeding by your bike every few minutes, this might be just the place to get the legs spinning.
Additional information and directions: Chickamauga Battlefield via RootsRated
4. Raccoon Mountain Loop** **
What Makes it Great: The one-directional loop atop Raccoon Mountain offers 6.5 miles of smooth, low-traffic riding. Park at the East Overlook to start, where you'll find a map and an amazing vista. The views are breathtaking from all directions, whether you're looking toward the river gorge, downtown Chattanooga, or across the reservoir. There's one substantial climb to get your legs and lungs working, but for the most part, it's flat and smooth. You'll find a bike maintenance station at the Laurel Point parking lot, a new pump track where your kids can test their skills, and picnic tables when you're ready to take a breather.
Additional information and directions: Don't leave valuables in the car, and make sure to lock the doors.
5. Moccasin Bend
What Makes it Great: The 9-mile loop at Moccasin Bend is a favorite for local cyclists. It offers a surprising variety of terrain within a fairly small radius. Start from Renaissance Park, and ride Manufacturers Road to Hamm Road. The lower road is a flat, smooth out-and-back that passes a golf course. Because it's densely wooded, you'll almost definitely see a herd of deer or a rafter of turkeys. When you ride away from the hospital, merge right onto Manufacturers Road and stay straight on Riverside Avenue; after you cross the train tracks (carefully!), make a 180-degree left turn to climb Whitehall Road. At the top, take in the view of downtown...then let 'er rip down the other side. Be ready to hit the brakes at the bottom! Turn left on Elmwood Drive, and make your way back to the main road. Afterwards, hit Whole Foods to refuel. If you're not looking for hills, just stay on Pineville Road for a flat out and back.
** Additional information and directions:** The Renaissance Park parking lot is located on River Street just off Cherokee Blvd.
6. Raccoon Mountain Mountain Biking
What Makes it Great: Raccoon Mountain features nearly 30 miles of intermediate to advanced single track; the crown jewel of Chattanooga mountain biking, a mere 15 minutes from downtown. If you ride mountain bikes in the southeastern United States, you’ve probably heard of Raccoon Mountain. If you’re simply visiting the area and looking for a legit ride while you’re in town, this is the place to start. While beginners and flow junkies might be better served at Enterprise South or Five Points, Raccoon is “real” mountain biking, a network narrow singletrack that snakes through the forest high above Chattanooga. Expect roots, rocks, steep pitches, more rocks, close encounters with trailside trees and as much fun as you can handle.
Additional information and directions: Raccoon Mountain Mountain Biking via RootsRated
7. Stringers Ridge Mountain Biking
What Makes it Great: The Stringer's Ridge project area is an approximately 100-acre parcel of undeveloped forested land located just north of downtown Chattanooga. Stringers Ridge is a jewel of a piece of property that was saved from development by the Trust for Public Land. It is located 2 miles from the heart of downtown, offering locals unprecedented proximity to densely forested mountain biking. The trails are now open, offering riders somewhat challenging flow style trails. If you forget you are in the middle of downtown Chattanooga while exploring the trails of this heavily wooded, 100-acre park, be sure to check out the overlook where you will score an awesome view of the Scenic City.
Additional information and directions: Stringer’s Ridge Mountain Biking via RootsRated