Backpacking opportunities abound near Chattanooga. The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail begins on Signal Mountain, only 20 minutes from downtown, allowing backpackers to make multi-day trips through the rugged gorges of the Cumberland Plateau. While state parks provide short, close to home options for beginner backpackers, our national parks provide unlimited opportunities to wander the woods for days. From downtown Chattanooga, the long distance hiker can access the entire Eastern U.S. trail system. The Great Eastern Trail runs through the city center, providing a vital connection to the Appalachian Trail north, in Virginia, and the Pinhoti Trail, south in Georgia.

Backpacking in Chattanooga

Backpacking is an adventure that blends hiking with backcountry camping, where you must carry all life’s essentials in a pack on your back. It provides the opportunity to go beyond the traditional campground and enjoy a more immersive outdoor experience.

First backpacking trip? Follow these steps:

  1. Choose an easy destination: Short overnight hikes close to home are best.
  2. Get essential gear and clothing: Having the right and properly fitted gear can make or break your backpacking experience. Borrow gear to save money, but make sure it fits.
  3. Plan your food: Pack lots of snacks, look for easy to cook options at local groceries or pick up just-add-water from your local outdoor retail store.
  4. Prepare for your trip: Condition yourself to do the planned hike with a fully loaded pack; get your permits; practice Leave No Trace principles.
  5. Don’t go alone: Be sure to bring a friend regardless of their backpacking knowledge, because it makes any trip safer and more fun.


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