Chattanooga offers an incredible combination of scenic beauty with its surrounding mountains and a river flowing the heart of downtown. Downtown serves as a great base camp for endless outdoor recreation and adventures. The revitalized riverfront with a 13-mile paved Riverwalk, paddling on the Tennessee River Blueway, a multitude of city parks and open spaces, a variety of accommodations, restaurants to please every palate, a rich history, thriving arts scene, and many annual events that provide year-round family fun.
Chattanooga’s downtown attractions are connected by a FREE electric shuttle and Chattanooga’s Bike Share system. Lookout Mountain, with all its attractions and outdoor amenities, is only six miles from downtown.
Great Eastern TrailThe Great Eastern Trail is a project of the Great Eastern Trail Association, working with the American Hiking Society and local trail partners, to create America’s newest long-distance hiking trail extending from Alabama to New York! Still under development, the Great Eastern Trail (GET) runs through Chattanooga using parts of the Cumberland Trail, North Chickamauga Creek Greenway, Tennessee Riverpark, and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park’s Lookout Mountain trail system.
When complete, the GET will connect the Florida National Scenic Trail to the North Country National Scenic Trail in New York State, as well as making connections to the Benton MacKaye, Pinhoti and Appalachian Trails. Currently, long-distance hikers can access nearby backcountry sections of the GET from downtown Chattanooga using temporary routes on city rights of way and greenways.
Chattanooga was designated a GET Trail Town in 2013.
Maclellan IslandThe Maclellan Island Sanctuary is located in the middle of downtown Chattanooga on the Tennessee River.
Owned and managed by the Chattanooga Audubon Society, the sanctuary contains a very large Great Blue Heron rookery, numerous waterfowl nesting sites and also serves as a home to muskrat, river otters, and the occasional white-tailed deer.The public can access the island via a power boat dock on the southwest side or a canoe and kayak launch on the northeast side. The island contains a system of hiking trails, a group campground and is a designated campsite for the Tennessee River Blueway paddling trail. Day and overnight usage fees apply.
The best launch for canoes, kayaks and SUP’s in downtown Chattanooga is located on the north shore of the Tennessee River in Coolidge Park, under the John Ross (Market St.) Bridge.
Tennessee River Gorge and BluewayThe Tennessee River Gorge, 27,000 acres of land carved through the Cumberland Mountains by the Tennessee River, is one of the most unique natural treasures in the Southeast. It is the only large river canyon bordering a mid-size city and is the 4th largest river canyon east of the Mississippi. Designated as a National Scenic River Trail in 2002, the Tennessee River Blueway flows through Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge for 46 miles, from Chickamauga to Nickajack Dam.The Blueway’s unique paddling experience offers kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders the opportunity to visit wildlife preserves and camp primitively on public lands or stay in downtown hotels and take advantage of urban amenities. The Tennessee River flows through the heart of downtown Chattanooga’s thriving entertainment district and then continues through the high, forested walls of the river gorge. There, towering bluffs and protected forests provide miles of spectacular paddling.
When the Tennessee River widens into Nickajack Lake, it reveals its enormous scope before dropping Blueway paddlers off at the headwaters of Nickajack Dam. The scenic terrain of the Tennessee River Gorge creates a unique diversity of landforms, thousands of varieties of plants, grasses and wildflowers and a rich wildlife population. There are many ways to access wildlife viewing in the gorge: mountain biking Raccoon Mountain, paddling the Tennessee River Blueway or even climbing at the Tennessee Wall. The most accessible way to get a good overview is to hike the Pot Point Nature Trail, a 3.5-mile loop that begins at the Tennessee River Gorge Trust’s Pot Point Cabin at the river’s edge and climbs the side of the Cumberland Plateau to nearly 1,000 feet.
Tennessee RiverparkThe Tennessee Riverpark is a 13-mile paved, urban greenway, that connects downtown Chattanooga to Chickamauga Dam, 8 miles to the east and to the Historic St. Elmo neighborhood 4 miles to the south. Open to cyclists, runners, skaters and walkers, the popularly named “Riverwalk” connects neighborhoods and business districts within Chattanooga and Hamilton County.The Riverpark can be accessed from various parking areas and trailheads from Chickamauga Dam to St. Elmo. The Riverwalk connects to the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway at Riverpoint off Lost Mound Drive to add an additional 3 miles out to Sterchi Farm Park.
PETS ARE NOT ALLOWED ON THE TENNESSEE RIVERPARK FROM CHICKAMAUGA DAM TO THE BLUFF VIEW ARTS DISTRICT.
The Bike Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System has stations located at the Riverpark’s Hubert Fry Center, Curtain Pole Road Trailhead, 100 Walnut Street, Coolidge Park, Renaissance Park, Spring Hill Suites, Blue Goose Hollow Trailhead, and Wheland Foundry Trailhead on Middle Street offering the ability to cycle along the greenway and access restaurants and shops in town.
Paddling, Boating, Fishing
The Tennessee Riverpark also offer paddlers and boaters several access points to the Tennessee River Blueway for options of short to multi-day/overnight paddling trips. There are several fishing piers and overlooks to quietly observe the variety of wildlife that call the Tennessee River home.
Hours and Cost
Open Daily: Sunrise to Sunset
No. Pets are not allowed in Coolidge Park or on the Riverwalk from the Bluff View Art District to the Chickamauga Dam.