What you will find when you go hiking near Chattanooga, is an abundance of beautiful and breathtaking scenery not to mention all the spectacular waterfalls.
I am going to list 14 of the best hikes that beginners through to seasoned hikers can enjoy.
I recently spent some time in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is a wonderful little place at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
The location means that the area has a rich selection of waterfalls, rocky outcrops, and forests. It is one of the most beautiful places in the US, and hiking is a favorite pastime here.
Hiking is a family-friendly activity that most people can participate in. To ensure that everyone gets the most out of this article, I have taken into account skill level and experience.
I have sorted the best trails for hiking near Chattanooga according to the level of difficulty. This means that you’ll easily find a hike suited to your skill and experience level that you’re bound to enjoy.
Hikes Near Chattanooga TN Map
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Easy Trails for Hiking Near Chattanooga:
1 – Chattanooga Riverwalk
I am going to kick off this list with one of the easiest trails for hiking near Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is a concrete path that trails all along the south bank of the Tennessee River. It is a popular spot among walkers and runners, but you may also see cyclists.
The trail, or path rather, is a part of the Tennessee Riverpark. The fact that it is located in a park makes this the ideal spot for a family day out. The concrete path of the Riverwalk means that it is easy enough for children to complete as well.
You can also choose to only do a section of the Riverwalk, and then stop and enjoy your day in the park.
The park offers many activities for the outdoorsy family. There are benches, restrooms, and picnic areas, which means that this area is ideal for a late lunch.
You can go for a walk and then have a leisurely lunch while the children play on the grass. There are also fishing piers and kayak launch pads. This is ideal for those that would like to explore all the Tennessee River has to offer.
Length of Hike: 16.1 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
2 – Glen Falls
If you are looking to go hiking near Chattanooga and you want to take the kids then Glen Falls is the place to go. It is located very close to downtown Chattanooga and is thus an ideal outing for those residing in the town.
Families with children will particularly enjoy the Glen Falls trail. This is one of those hiking trails that is more like a natural obstacle course. I thoroughly enjoyed it myself and can see that children will absolutely love it.
Nature has definitely created a fun playground. The entire trail is dotted with boulder fields, rocky staircases, natural water features, and man-made tunnels.
Children can climb and scramble over and under obstacles. They will have the time of their life. I went during the fall, and the colors of the foliage were spectacular. However, I’ve been told that spring is also a good time to visit.
There are waterfalls on this trail and the Glen Falls are known to be high mountain falls. This means that they are at their best when the area has had a lot of rain.
During the spring, the waterfalls will be more impressive. You may even be able to hear them before you get to see them – so listen closely!
Length of Hike: 2.1 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
3 – Little River Canyon
This trail is actually in Alabama, but very close to Chattanooga. It is a very popular trail and therefore you may encounter a lot of traffic on the trail itself. The great thing about this trail is that it also features a waterfall, which makes it a favorite among children.
A word of caution though, be sure to check the strength of the current before going swimming. It can be very strong.
There are roots and rocks all along the trail, so watch where you place your feet and how you step. But once you get the hang of it, it is very nice.
Dogs are also welcome, as long as they are on a leash. This makes the Little River Canyon a hike that the whole family can enjoy.
The scenery at Little River Canyon makes it all worthwhile. There are several smaller waterfalls, not just the big one at the end, and sandstone cliffs along the path. People of all ages and skill levels can attempt this trail.
It is fairly easy, but there is a steep and rocky staircase at the end to get to the falls. Be sure of your footing so that you don’t accidentally slip.
Length of Hike: 1.4 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
4 – Savage Day Loop
The name of this trail is a little misleading. Although it implies that it is a “savage day”, this is actually a fairly easy trail. This is one of the hiking trails near Chattanooga that is located in a park, the South Cumberland State Park. As with many of the trails on this list, this hike includes a waterfall!
The waterfall may be the drawcard, but the birdwatching opportunities on this hike are ample. And as long as they are on a leash, your dog is welcome too!
The South Cumberland State Park is very large, spanning 30 845 acres. It is spread out across four separate counties in Tennessee: Grundy, Marion, Sequatchie, and Franklin. It is known for the best backcountry camping and hiking trails in this region.
Although this is a fairly easy hike, the last bit does pick up in difficulty. It is also a good idea to wear proper and sturdy shoes that you are comfortable in.
The reason for this is that the trail includes two suspension bridges. These bridges can get slippery or muddy during the wetter seasons.
If you are looking to go hiking near Chattanooga during spring then this is the perfect location. Not only will you be less likely to encounter rain, but the wildflowers will also be beautiful.
Length of Hike: 4.9 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy
5 – Bay Point Loop Trail
As we near the end of our easy trails list, we encounter the Bay Point Loop Trail. This trail is highly popular, in fact, it is the most popular trail in the Harrison Bay State Park.
You are likely to encounter traffic in the form of other hikers and bikers on this trail. The hike is fairly level and relatively easy for the most part and boasts beautiful lake views.
The Bay Point Loop Trail sticks close to the shorelines of two very large peninsulas on Chickamauga Lake. The lake is the ideal place to go kayaking, fishing, or swimming.
And boaters and anglers flock to these shores as well. All types of boats and watercraft are allowed.
Families tend to make a weekend of it and stay at the campsite in the park. There are 128 RV campsites equipped with water and electricity. There are also bathhouses as well as a playground, making this place ideal for families with children.
Not only will you have access to the Bay Point Loop Trail when camping here, but also to a host of other activities.
There is a swimming pool, a self-guided star walk, a wildlife exhibit, and fishing piers. Dad will delight in the beautiful Bear Trace Golf Course close by.
Length of Hike: 4.5 miles
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
Moderate Trails for Hiking Near Chattanooga:
6 – Grundy Forest
The Grundy Forest Trail is the first trail on our moderately difficult list. This does not, however, mean that it is not family-friendly. The moderate trails are simply trails that follow either rockier or steeper routes. Dogs are also welcome on this trail, as long as they are on a leash.
The Grundy Trail is in the Grundy Forest State Natural Area. It actually intersects another trail on our list, namely the Fiery Gizzard Trail.
The Grundy Forest Trail starts out the same as the Fiery Gizzard Trail, then loops away. There are as many as five waterfalls along the way. Although some of them are small, there are three that are worth the hike.
The Blue Hole Falls, Sycamore Falls, and Black Canyon Cascade are three waterfalls on this trail that make the moderate hike worth it. There are swimming holes at all three waterfalls, which means that you can soak your weary feet in the cool water along your hike.
You will also walk alongside a beautiful mountain stream shaded by hemlock for a large part of the way.
I highly recommend packing a light picnic in your daypack. This way you will be able to rest along the way and enjoy a snack. There are many places to stop for a breather, and I suggest taking your time on this hike.
In doing so, you won’t be as fatigued at the end, particularly if you’re not an experienced hiker.
Length of Hike: 3.3 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
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7 – Cravens House Loop Trail
This trail is on our moderate list because it is fairly rocky going. That means that you will have to watch your feet for a lot of the way. However, when you do stop to look around, you’ll be amazed at the abundance of wildflowers.
Although it is a moderate trail in terms of difficulty, it is very popular. Dogs are also welcome, as long as they are leashed.
This trail is close to Chattanooga and in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The park is historic, and if you see an item of historic significance on your hike, leave it there, and inform park authorities.
It is so popular largely due to the forested area around it, and the views. There are more than 50 miles of hiking trails in the park. The Cravens House Loop Trail is just one of them and will delight hikers with the views it offers.
It is very important to remember the “Leave No Trace” rule in this park. Additionally, as a moderate hike, be sure to have company. It is suggested not to hike or bike alone in this park.
The park is popular among hikers and bikers alike, but there are also waterways, picnic areas, and other outdoor activities. Horseback riders frequent the easier trails, and rangers offer guided bike tours, canoe, and kayak tours.
Length of Hike: 3.7 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
8 – Lula Lake
If you are on the hunt for some of the most beautiful and natural places to go hiking in Chattanooga, this is it. The Lula Lake trail will take you to Lula Falls. This waterfall is 120 feet high and a brilliant turquoise in color.
It is one of the most magnificent waterfalls on this list and will literally take your breath away. This trail is just a short, 30-minute drive from downtown Chattanooga.
The dramatic falls are just one of the many drawcards of this hike. The natural scenery here is just beautiful. The trail is dotted with beautiful rocky outcrops, forested areas, and many smaller falls. The water here is crystal clear and a very bright blue. It almost reminds me of an island.
Hikers will do well to remember that this trail isn’t always open. It is only open on the first and last Saturday of every month, from 09:00 until 17:00. Between May and November, it’s also open on the first and last Sundays of each month from 12:00 to 17:00.
It is, therefore, best to plan your trip accordingly if you want to see this stunning natural phenomenon.
Length of Hike: 3.9 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
9 – Signal Point to Edwards Point
This trail is classified as moderate because it is very rocky and the footing is uneven. There are some inclines and some steep drops as well. It is located in Signal Point Park.
Although leashed dogs are welcome, I would be cautious. It can be dangerous at certain points if your dog pulls on the leash. They may well pull you over and you can fall. However, if your dog walks well on a lead and is well-trained, there’s no reason not to take them with.
This trail boasts bridges, boulders to scramble over, rocky terrain, and beautiful views. If you’re not scared of a workout, you will be rewarded with beautiful scenery on this trail.
Length of Hike: 7.2 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
10 – Greeter Falls
This loop trail is also located in the South Cumberland State Park. It is classified as moderate because the trail to the lower falls can be very muddy and a little more challenging.
Although it is family-friendly, I wouldn’t suggest it for very young children. Your dog is also welcome, as long as they are leashed.
This trail is another on the list that boasts an impressive waterfall as a reward. The lower falls is 50 feet high and the upper falls sports a drop of 15 feet. The Lower Falls are believed to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the East Coast.
The waterfalls, particularly the Lower Falls, have deep pools perfect for swimming. Pack your swimming costume to make the most of it!
You will see waterfalls on this hike, but will also be treated to vistas of sandstone cliffs and hardwood trees. It is a picture-perfect location, and I highly suggest packing a camera for the trip!
Length of Hike: 3.2 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate
11 – Ritchie Hollow Trail
I am rounding out my moderate trail list with one that is on the cusp of moderate and difficult. The Ritchie Hollow Trail is located in River Canyon Road.
It kicks off at the Tennessee River Gorge Trust’s Pot Point Cabin. This trail climbs approximately 1000 feet to the plateau at the top of the Prentice Cooper State Forest.
If you are interested in hiking near Chattanooga and want to explore the mountains and rivers in one go, this is your best bet. There are only a few hiking trails that connect the Cumberland Trail System at the top of the mountain to the Tennessee River at the bottom.
This is one of them, and that’s what makes it so special.
Those that enjoy forest scenery will enjoy this hike as it winds through a mature hardwood forest. This trail also includes a waterfall, namely the Blowing Wind Falls which is 30 feet high.
Length of Hike: 4.4 miles
Difficulty Level: Moderate – Strenuous
Strenuous Trails for Hiking Near Chattanooga:
12 – Fiery Gizzard Trail to Raven’s Point
I have divided the trails on this list between easy, moderate, and strenuous. The strenuous trails are those that I consider being a little more difficult. I would say that these trails are best suited to experienced hikers or those that enjoy a challenge.
I would generally not suggest a strenuous trail for families with younger children. Older children and teenagers may enjoy the challenge though. This is particularly true for families whose children are experienced in hiking.
Additionally, I would be cautious of taking dogs along on strenuous trails. Some of these hikes will necessitate the use of hiking poles, and a dog on a leash may be cumbersome. They could pull you over or the leash may get entangled.
The reason why I classify a trail as strenuous is usually due to the footing. Strenuous trails tend to have rougher footing, steep climbs or descents, or both, or it may just be very long.
The Fiery Gizzard Trail is an all-day adventure. If you are experienced in hiking, this is one of the best hikes on the list. I myself enjoy a challenge and adventure, and therefore thoroughly enjoyed this hike.
It is a double loop and features towering rock faces, lush forests, and many waterfalls and streams. The view at the end, from Raven’s Point, is also well worth the effort.
Length of Hike: 9.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
13 – Walls of Jericho
This is one of the more challenging hikes on this list, but so worth it. In fact, it can be so strenuous that many people choose to divide it up and camp overnight on the trail. There is a field clearing where overnight hikers tend to pitch their tents.
The trail is located in the Paint Rock River area. This is a wilderness area that is home to a variety of wildlife. It is a place where you will find more than 100 fish species and 45 mussel species. It is also home to the scarce Tennessee cave salamander, so keep your eyes peeled!
The trail crawls through a narrow gorge and boasts three beautiful waterfalls along the way. You will also be treated to lush woods and beautiful mossy boulders that give way to sheer rock faces.
The focus of this trail is the Walls of Jericho amphitheater. It is a natural amphitheater consisting of a limestone bowl of 50 yards wide and a breathtaking waterfall.
I suggest visiting either during the late summer or fall. The reason for this is because the rains tend to fill the amphitheater with water. This can make exploring a little more difficult.
Length of Hike: 6.6 miles
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
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14 – Big Daddy Loop
We round out our list of hiking trails near Chattanooga with the Big Daddy Loop. This is a very strenuous trail mostly used for trail running, although hikers are welcome.
If you are up for an uphill challenge, be sure to check out this trail. The calf-busting trail explores seven separate trails along the western side of Lookout Mountain.
It has the best views and features a valley on one side and beautiful sandstone cliffs on the other. The trail kicks off at Cravens House. This is a historic structure and also features in the Cravens House Loop Trail.
It is very long for hikers and an uphill climb for trail runners, but the views make it worth it. I highly suggest going during the afternoon when the natural lighting is best.
A Note on Hiking:
Chattanooga is renowned for its ample hiking opportunities. There are so many hiking trails close to it that it is quite literally a hiker’s paradise. It is a beautiful area and consists of a wide variety of natural landscapes.
The views are incredible and the natural scenery is beautiful. It is no wonder that hikers from all over flock to Chattanooga for the trails. I tremendously enjoyed exploring these trails and putting together a selection of the best options available.
The easy hikes, and even some of the moderate hikes, are well-suited to inexperienced hikers and families. I would use caution when selecting one of the strenuous hikes as the footing can be unsure.
Hiking is a strenuous activity in and of itself and the experience will be ruined should you hurt yourself.
I never go hiking without a small first-aid kit consisting of disinfectant, a few plasters and bandages, scissors, and gauze. Small cuts and scrapes and blisters are common, so keep this in mind.
I also always hike with a daypack or small backpack so that my hands are free. Also always remember to take enough water and snacks, and hiking poles if needed.
Best Time of Year to Go Hiking Near Chattanooga:
Tennessee has hot and humid summers and short, cold, and very wet winters. If you are hiking at a high elevation or in a forest, it will likely not be as hot as it would be in the city.
The best time of year to go hiking near Chattanooga will be either fall or spring. It will not be as hot and muggy and you are less likely to encounter rain or snowfall.
Essential Items for Hiking Near Chattanooga:
Hiking is a physical activity that takes place outdoors. This means that there are certain things that you need to take into account before setting off. There are several items that you should pack and things to be aware of ahead of your hike.
Reusable Water Bottle: The first thing you’ll need is a reusable water bottle. Make sure that it is of either hard plastic or glass, and it is even better if it is insulated.
Take enough water for the hike with you, and refill your water bottle at freshwater sources whenever you can. It is important to drink enough water on your hike to ensure that you don’t dehydrate.
Good Hiking Boots: On a hike, your feet are your top priority. Take care of your feet by ensuring you wear the best quality hiking boots that you can afford.
I also suggest wearing your hiking boots at home or around town before going on an actual hike. By doing so, you are less likely to suffer from blisters from wearing new boots that have not been worn in.
Mosquito and Bug Repellent: Tennessee is notorious for its mosquitoes. Be sure to pack, and use a heavy-duty repellent. This will make your hike that much more enjoyable.
Sunscreen or a Hat: Hiking takes place outdoors and generally in the summer months. It is therefore important to protect your skin from the sun. Pack enough quality sunscreen and reapply often. A hat will not only protect your skin from the sun but also protect your eyes from the sun’s glare.
Snacks or Energy Bars: It is a good idea to keep your energy levels up on a hike. Ensure that your body has adequate nutrition and energy by packing enough snacks. I personally choose to pack energy bars, nuts, and dried fruit, but you can pack anything you wish. The best snacks will be high in protein, good fats and contain a decent amount of carbohydrates as well.
Hope you all enjoyed my list of 14 Amazing Places to Go Hiking Near Chattanooga. Now you should have a list of cool things to see and fun things to do!
Now it’s down to you, Comment below and let us know if you have been on any of these hikes and which one you enjoyed most. If you haven’t hiked any of these places let us know which one you are looking forward to the most. Thank you for reading!