Chattanooga wasn’t voted “Best Town Ever” two years in a row in Outside Magazine polls for nothing. Whether you’re looking for a simple stroll with the kids or in search of bigger adventures, you don’t have to look far to find an outdoor adventure in the Scenic City.
Here’s our list of some of the best outdoor activities near downtown Chattanooga.
Take a Stroll on the Riverwalk
If you’re looking for a place to take a leisurely walk or bike ride, Chattanooga’s Riverwalk is the place to be. With 13 miles stretching from Chickamauga Dam to the foot of Lookout Mountain, this urban trail is convenient and easily accessible. The park even has several entry points where you can park your car and enjoy your walk in the city.
Go For a Run at Stringer’s Ridge
Within minutes of leaving downtown, you can hit the trails at this 92-acre urban wilderness park overlooking the Tennessee River. With three trail loops ranging from easy to difficult, this park is perfect for running. But before you hit the trail, make sure you’re prepared with the proper gear and navigation.
Paddleboard the Tennessee River
With the Tennessee River snaking right along the edge of downtown, watersports are popular in Chattanooga. Whether you’re a long-time Chattanoogan or just visiting, paddle boarding on the Tennessee River is a must. To top it off, it’s super easy to get on the water with several downtown rental shops.
Rock Climb at Sunset Rock
Chattanooga is home to some of the best rock climbing spots in the state. If you are looking for an adventure that ends with a gorgeous view, Sunset Rock, located on Lookout Mountain, is your best bet. Never tried rock climbing? Check out our guide for beginners.
Camp in Prentice Cooper State Forest
Looking to spend a night under the stars? Visit Prentice Cooper State Park, where you’ll find 6,000 acres of protected land with 35 miles of hiking trails and camping sites are perfect for weekend outings. But before you head out to camp, make sure you are packing all the right supplies and are prepared for the conditions.
Hike on Signal Mountain
Located less than 15 minutes from downtown, Signal Mountain has been a hiking hot spot for decades with countless trailheads, waterfalls and campsites for just about any outdoor adventure. Rainbow Lake Wilderness Trailhead is among these popular trails. With just a two-mile stretch of easy hiking, Rainbow Lake is perfect for hikers of all ages and skill levels. The park is also pet friendly, for those who want to bring your canine friends. Although this trail is fairly easy, you’ll want to make sure you know the hiking basics before you hit the trails. Make sure you pack plenty of water, stay on the trail and be aware of your surroundings to ensure a fun and safe hiking trip.
Visit a Waterfall at Lula Lake
Just outside downtown Chattanooga you’ll find Lula Lake Land Trust. Popular for its hiking trails and waterfalls, Lula Lake has become a great destination for an outdoor adventure. Whether you’re looking for a long trail or a short hike with a waterfall at the end, you’ll find the best of both worlds at Lula Lake. Keep in mind that the park is typically only open on the first and last Saturdays of the month except on special occasions. If you’ve already experienced this Tennessee gem, don’t forget that there are a ton of other natural wonders to explore throughout the state and even around the Chattanooga area.
Kayak at Lookout Creek
Lookout Creek is just a quick seven miles from downtown Chattanooga on the west side of Lookout Mountain. The calm flat waters that flow through the area is perfect for flat-water kayaking. To kayak the entire length of the creek usually takes about two and a half hours but offers the perfect experience for beginners. Tennessee is full of wonderful kayaking options, so be sure to check them out before you hit the water.
Mountain Bike at Enterprise South
Everyone from beginners to biking enthusiasts will enjoy a ride at Enterprise South Nature Park ℹ️. Located just off Interstate 75, this vast 1,300 acre wildlife park offers visitors three different trails for mountain biking. Admittance into the park is free and it takes about one hour to complete. If you haven’t been mountain biking before it is important to make sure you are prepared for the trail and know your own limitations.
Take a Dip in North Chickamauga Creek
Made up with a series of beautiful swimming holes, North Chickamauga Creek is only 12 miles outside downtown Chattanooga. The hike is anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how far you want to go. Although the hike is short, you’ll want to spend some time exploring the gorge and swimming in the unbelievably clear mountain water. Don’t stop there: Once you’ve explored North Chickamauga Creek, check out more local swimming holes that Chattanooga has to offer.
Picnic at Point Park
Tennessee is full of great picnicking spots perfect for the whole family. One of our Chattanooga favorites, Point Park ℹ️, sits right on top of Lookout Mountain. This family hot spot offers beautiful panoramic views of the Tennessee valley and downtown Chattanooga. With tons of historic landmarks commemorating the Civil War, the kids are bound to have a fun and educational experience.