Trip Report: Raccoon Mountain Perimeter Loop

Ry Glover
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The Full Perimeter Loop at Raccoon Mountain is a staple for Chattanooga trail running, featuring stunning views, smooth terrain, punchy climbs, and exhilarating descents.

This loop really shows off the diversity of terrain atop Raccoon Mountain with incredible views of the Tennessee River Valley below. Rocky, technical trails with big descents and ascents will excite and test even the most seasoned trail runner. Tackling 7 of the mountain's 15 trails all in one go will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and knowledge of a day well spent in the woods.

Jeremy Parker

Who would enjoy this experience?

Anyone looking for a beautiful and challenging day in the woods would enjoy this tough loop. Whether running, biking, or hiking, these trails really show off what Chattanooga's trail system is all about. A complete descent and subsequent ascent of Racoon Mountain on 3 brand new trails (Live Wire 1, and 2, and High Voltage) will make anyone feel accomplished when finally getting back to the car.

Getting There: How long is the drive and how much time will people need for this?

A short, easy 15 minute drive from downtown Chattanooga gets you to the entrance of Raccoon Mountain. Subsequent 5-10 minute drives from the entrance will get you to any number of parking area options for this loop.

Parking and Trailhead: What's the parking situation, and are there fees?

This loop can be started from any one of four parking areas: East Overlook, Switch Yard, Laurel Point, or a small lot on the road to Laurel Point. There are no fees for entering Raccoon Mountain, but be sure to be out before dark as the gates will close.

Jeremy Parker

Where do you start and how long is this going to take?

I prefer to start at the small parking lot on the road to Laurel Point. The loop should take anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on your abilities and/or pace preference.

What's one thing about this place that visitors should look forward to?

Amazing views of the Tennessee River Gorge, Downtown Chattanooga, and Lookout Mountain!

Jeremy Parker

Was the trail in good shape? Was it washed out? What should a user expect when visiting?

The trails on Racoon Mountain are all very well maintained. There are no washout areas except for those that have wooden foot/bike bridges over the top of them, and it's rare when these are washed out.

Safety:

There are long sections of trail away from roads, so I always bring my cell phone just in case.

Recommended Gear:

Shoes: Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2

T-shirt: Salomon running shirt

Outerwear: Patagonia Capeline 4 (1/4 zip)

Socks: Smartwool PHD Outdoor (light cushion)

Hardgoods: Salomon Skin Pro 10+3 running vest

Nutrition: Clif Shot Blocks (1 pack of 6 blocks), Huma Energy Gel (Mango flavor), small bag of salted pretzels, 16oz of water  

Jeremy Parker

Where to eat afterward:

There are virtually no places at the base of the mountain to enjoy a meal, but with Raccoon's close proximity to downtown, you really have a lot of different dining options.

Difficulty: 1= Easy and 5=extremely difficult:

3-4

Mileage:

Approx. 13 miles

Dog Friendly: Yes or No?

Yes

Are fees or permits required? Yes or No?

No

What's the best time of year to go? 

Raccoon is great in all seasons, but the best views will be fall/winter when the trees are leafless.

What's the best time of day to go?

Any, as long as you can be done before dusk and the gates close.

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