Chattanooga is located along the Tennessee River and on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Call it lucky, but this strategic location paves the way for some of the most scenic hikes you'll ever experience.
The Parks and Outdoors Department states that Chattanooga has over 240 kilometers of hiking trails, and all are free for the public to access. No matter your experience level, you can find a trail worth exploring. With so many hiking trails in Chattanooga, it can be overwhelming to pick your destination. I created this guide to help you choose where to trek and kick off your outdoor adventure.
When to Go Hiking in Chattanooga
Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a favorite destination among hikers due to its diverse terrain and natural beauty. Choosing the best time to go hiking in Chattanooga depends on your preference and what experience you want.
Visit Chattanooga for spring and fall hiking to avoid the crowds and enjoy milder temperatures. Hiking in spring means you get to witness the beautiful blooms. And in the fall months, you'd get to enjoy the stunning foliage. But you must know these seasons can bring rain, so ensure you've packed your rain gear.
You can also hike Chattanooga when it's hot and humid in the summer to enjoy longer daylight hours. It's also ideal for hikers exploring waterfalls and other destinations with water-based activities. But remember to pack your sunscreen and water bottle to stay hydrated!
If you dare, you can also hike during the winter. Several trails in Chattanooga offer beautiful winter scenery. If you don't mind the occasional snowfall, you'll get to enjoy most of the trails to yourself.
Whether you're a seasoned hiker or new to the scene, don't leave home without these essential hiking gear. And if you're a tech-savvy hiker, you'll want to download these hiking apps and keep a navigation tool handy, like Gaia GPS.
6 Best Hiking Trails in Chattanooga
With so many hiking spots in Chattanooga, picking the best hiking trails is challenging. Here's a list of the 6 best trails in and near Chattanooga worth escaping the city for:
The Glen Falls Trail in Chattanooga is part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military National Park. It's an easy hike that beginners can easily conquer. The entire trail is 3.7 kilometers long, out and back.
The rock and water formations are the highlight of the Glen Falls Trail. You can explore this trail during the summer for the best experience. Since it's a popular trail, parking can be difficult. Come early to ensure you can secure a parking spot.
Remember to bring your pet dog to this pet-friendly trail, but a leash is required for your pets!
Your search for the best hiking trails in Chattanooga ends right here. Edwards Point Trail is one of Chattanooga's most popular hiking spots for more reasons than 1.
It is moderately difficult and is 6.1 kilometers long out and back. The hiking trail treats you to multiple rock features and has a stunning view at the end. Since the trail is open throughout the year, it's worth a visit any season.
If you like taking your dogs on a hike, you'll be happy to know that this trail is pet-friendly. Just make sure to keep your dogs on a leash at all times.
As the name of the trail implies, it's a long one! Specifically, it's a 16-kilometer loop.
It's one of the best hiking trails in Chattanooga because it takes you along the western side of the stunning Lookout Mountain. It's not beginner-friendly but moderate enough for those who aren't hiking pros.
The trail features uphill stretches and a few challenging portions. But you'll end your hike just before reaching the summit of Lookout Mountain. Some trail highlights include the Bluff Trail and the Rifle Pits Trail.
The Tennessee Riverwalk is one of the best hikes in Chattanooga for beginners. It's also known as the Chattanooga Riverwalk. The trail is over 25 kilometers long from point to point, and it's easy, making it ideal for beginners.
This area is the best spot to explore nature if you like river strolls. The Riverwalk is part of a multi-use space intended for outdoor activities. You can pick from one of many trailheads and explore various trails, which are mostly paved.
Aside from hikers, the trails are also popular among bikers and joggers. While enjoying your hike, you can also check out local businesses.
The Cumberland Trail is one of the best spots for hiking in Chattanooga. Specifically, you must explore the North Chick section, a 13-kilometer stretch. This trail takes you to creek crossings, slopes, staircases, and wooden ladders.
It's suitable for more experienced hikers because testy terrains are sprinkled throughout the trail. But it's worth going because of the cold pools on this trail. There are also many overlook points for you to soak in gorgeous views and rock formations.
Regarding the best hiking trails in Chattanooga that offer the most stunning natural views, Lula Lake Trails is a winner. The Lula Lake Land Trust is over 8,000 acres of private property with various hiking opportunities.
It's located on the eastern slopes of Lookout Mountain. There are a variety of trails that take you to scenic viewpoints, sandstone amphitheaters, Rock Creek, and stunning waterfalls!
This area has several trails ranging from 400 meters to over 1.6 kilometers long. When you combine all trails, that will equate to over 10 kilometers.
The Lula Lake Trails is only open during each month's first and last weekends. Knowing this, be sure to plan ahead of time if you want to explore these trails. So tat you're in Chattanooga during the scheduled opening of the trail and can make the most of the stunning natural beauty in the area.
Enjoy Outdoor Adventure in Chattanooga With Pilot!
There are so many options when hitting the trails of Chattanooga. From rock formations to waterfalls, you'll be rewarded for going outdoors! Now that you've narrowed down your trail options, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.