Outdoor Chattanooga News And Events

Friday, March 3, 2017 - by Ruth Thompson

Here are upcoming news and events from Outdoor Chattanooga:

Believe it or not, it's March already and despite what the groundhog predicted, it seems winter weather is on it's way out and warmer temps, along with rainy days have moved in. Know what that means? It's Spring time in Chattanooga! The region's waterfalls are flowing, wildflowers are blooming and it's warm enough to get out and enjoy it all! We're highlighting a couple waterfall hikes as this month's local outdoor adventure to try.


New to hiking? No worries, we'll connect you with some local hiking clubs that offer information and guided hikes to help you get into this great outdoor activity!

Want the adventure, but short on time? We're recommending two waterfall hikes that can easily fit into your busy spring schedule. Both trailheads are less than 25 miles from downtown Chattanooga and can be completed in about 2 hours. 
Lasley Falls
Big Soddy Creek Gulf

Driving instructions from Downtown Chattanooga:
Take U.S. 27 North towards Dayton
Drive about 16 miles. *Be sure to stay left to merge onto U.S. 111 at split.
Shortly after getting on U.S. 111, take the exit for Back Valley Rd.
Turn left on Back Valley Road. Parking is on the right just before you cross the bridge. 

If you use Google Maps you can go to:
11725 Back Valley Road, Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379
*Be sure to stay left on US-111

Big Soddy Creek Gulf is 285 acres of pristine wilderness located in Soddy Daisy, about half an hours drive from Downtown Chattanooga. The trail follows Big Soddy Creek and is most popular for its swimming holes and picnic areas. About a mile down the trail on the right side is Lasley Falls, a 25 foot waterfall that is rainfall dependent. We suggest going after a heavy rain, but the hike itself is very scenic, with plenty of photo opportunities, and worthwhile even if there isn't much water at the falls. 

Why do this hike?
If you're looking for an easy, family friendly hike not too far off the beaten path, this is the trail for you. One of the best features of Big Soddy Creek Gulf is it's accessibility. It's wide, flat, and graveled, with lots of benches and picnic areas, which makes it ideal for family outings. We suggest packing a picnic so you can make a day of it while you and the family explore the wilderness on the easy two mile round trip hike to Lasley Falls and back. 

Hogskin Loop--Stripmine Falls
North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area

Driving instructions from Downtown Chattanooga:
Take US-27 North towards Dayton. 
Stay on US-27 North for about 10 miles, then take the TN-153 South/Dayton Pike exit towards Chickamauga Dam. 
Turn left onto TN-153 North/Dayton Blvd/Dayton Pike.
Drive about 3 miles, turn left onto Montlake Rd.
Drive 1.1 miles, and the parking will be on your left, marked by the brown North Chickamauga Creek Gorge Trailhead sign. 

If you use Google Maps, you can go to:
310 Montlake Rd., Soddy Daisy, TN  37379
The parking lot will be about 0.2 miles past that, just look for the trailhead sign.

Hogskin Loop is 1.3 miles long, consisting of Upper Hogskin Trail and Lower Hogskin Trail. There's a short hike to access the loop from the parking lot, making this hike about 2 miles total. For the shortest route to the waterfall, stay right when you begin the loop and hike the upper section first. The waterfall is easy to find. If you're adventurous and capable, you can scramble up some boulders to get a slightly better view of the waterfall. If you continue past the waterfall, the Lower Hogskin Trail bears off to the left. All of the trails are well marked. Lower Hogskin Loop is more difficult than the Upper Loop. Keep an eye out for the white trail blazes to make sure that you don't wander off the main trail.

Why do this hike?
Are you looking for something a little more challenging than a walk in the park? North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area is 7,093-acres of wilderness with 10 miles of hiking trails, located just 15 miles from downtown Chattanooga. North Chickamauga Creek Gorge features the Cumberland Trail, which-when completed-will span 300 miles across 11 Tennessee counties. You don't have to hike the entire Cumberland Trail segment to have a great experience. Stripmine Falls is located right off of Hogskin Loop, less than a mile from the trailhead. Aside from the waterfall, there's impressive rock formations, and beautiful views of North Chickamauga Creek. 

Important things to consider before you go:
While these are both fairly easy, short, and beginner friendly hikes, you should be prepared and hike safely.
We suggest the Ten Essentials for Short Hikes as a resource before setting out on your waterfall hike.
Hogskin Loop is slightly more difficult than Big Soddy Creek Gulf as it involves elevation gain and loss, stairs, tiny creek crossings, and large rocks.
Both trails have designated parking lots, but often fill up, especially on the weekends. Don't park illegally. 
Be aware of the time: Big Soddy Creek Gulf closes at sundown, N. Chick Creek Gorge closes at 7 p.m.
Neither trail has a bathroom, please practice Leave No Trace.
Both trails allow dogs, but be sure to keep them on a leash and clean up after your furry friend.
Swim at your own risk! If you're going to swim in either one of the creeks, be aware of rapids and animals, especially snakes. There are no lifeguards on duty in the woods and creeks can be dangerous.

Local Hiking Resources

Chattanooga Hiking Club meets every Wednesday and Saturday to hike, generally within a 2 hour drive of Chattanooga. They also hold club meetings at Outdoor Chattanooga. Check out their website to see where they are hiking next and to learn about the organization.
Chattanooga Hiking Meetup is an outdoor adventure and eco-volunteer club that plans hiking, backpacking, camping, paddling, and biking events throughout the year ranging from easy to strenuous, local to regional. The aim of the group is to explore the natural beauty of the region and to develop a social network for people with like interests.
Guided Waterfall Hikes

Spring Hike to Rattlesnake Falls at Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park March 18
Get out, make some new friends and explore during this ranger guided Spring hike to Rattlesnake Falls at the Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park on Saturday, March 18. Meet Ranger Nate at the Clemmer trailhead at 10:30 a.m. The trailhead is located on the left as soon as you turn onto Highway 30 from Highway 64. The hike is 3 miles round trip, and is rated as moderate with two creek crossings. Please wear a good pair of shoes, bring some water and a snack and be ready to see a beautiful place. This hike is of medium difficulty and all ages are welcome. Please register here. 

Waterfall Workout Hikes at Cloudland Canyon State Park 
Cloudland Canyon offers ranger-led, waterfall workout hikes every Saturday from 4-6 p.m. Discover the park's wild waterfalls, learn about park hydrology and other natural features while completing this strenuous, 2-mile, out and back hike that involves 1200 total stair steps and 750 feet of elevation gain. Participants are required to bring water and pay the $5 day use fee. For more info call the park at 706-657-4050.

Shout out to Sara!! Once again we want to thank our awesome and adventurous Intern, Sara for trying out some local waterfall hikes and contributing the photos and write up for our newsletter!

Have you experienced this local adventure? Got suggestions for next month's local outdoor adventure? We'd love to hear about it! Share your stories and pictures with us at info@outdoorchattanooga.com 

Outdoor Chattanooga Events

Rapid Learning Kayak Skills Program March 7
Outdoor Chattanooga's Rapid Learning Kayak Skills Program will continue through the winter months at the Hulsey Wellness Center at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN. The next session is Tues., March. 7 from 7-9 p.m. There's a $2 pool use fee for participants, so be sure to bring cash to get in. Use our equipment or bring your own. Boats can be dropped off behind the building, but everyone must enter through the main entrance. For more info email Outdoor Chattanooga or call (423) 643-6888.

Try Archery  March 8

Take aim at Outdoor Chattanooga's "Try Archery" class! This free indoor class offers a hands on opportunity to learn about the sport of archery. Classes are held at Outdoor Chattanooga on Wed., March 1 and 8 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The class is taught using the National Archery in Schools NASP equipment and procedures, with a concentration on range safety, rules and the fundamentals of archery. All sessions are walk-in, open to ages 6 and up. No reservation or prior experience required. All equipment provided. Cost: free. Just show up, take aim and give archery a try! For questions or more information call Outdoor Chattanooga at (423) 643-6888.

Outdoor Ambassador Info and Registration Session March 9 

The City of Chattanooga's Office of Multicultural Affairs and Outdoor Chattanooga are creating a movement to bring more cultural and racial diversity to Chattanooga's outdoor scene. Outdoor Ambassadors inspire others to participate in outdoor adventures, assist with community outreach and act as outings leaders in the greater Chattanooga area. Interested in becoming an Outdoor Ambassador? Attend our final Information and Registration Session Thursday, March 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Outdoor Chattanooga, 200 River Street to find out more about this unique initiative and how you can get involved. Call 423-643-6888 with questions.

More Outdoor Chattanooga Events

Community Events

Chattanooga Marathon March 3-5
The Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee returns for it's second year and is offering up a weekend full of activities for all ages and fitness levels March 3-5. The full marathon race course gives runners a unique tour of downtown Chattanooga following along the Tennessee River to the base of Lookout Mountain, and finishing at the First Tennessee Pavilion. Don't want to run the full 26.2 miles? Other racing options include a half marathon, 5K, or even compete as a team relay. There's still time to register to race! Race Weekend activities include kid's fun run, live music performances, and pre- and post-race festivities at the Pavilion. Find information about race weekend activities/events, parking, traffic impact and the best spots for spectating and cheering on your favorite runner(s) here. Don't want to run any distance, but want to be a part of the energy of race weekend? Volunteers are still needed and you can register here. 

Weed Wrangle Chattanooga March 4
Weed Wrangle, is a one-day, citywide, volunteer effort to help rescue our public parks and green spaces from invasive species through hands-on removal of invasive and especially harmful trees, vines and flowering plants, such as honeysuckle, Chinese privet, English ivy, and kudzu. Supervised by experts in invasive weed management, Weed Wrangle volunteers will learn about the adverse impact of invasive plants on the environment and help remove these plants from some of the natural areas in the Chattanooga region.

Renaissance Park is part of the downtown Riverparks system and has walking paths through wooded areas that are being invaded by unwanted plants. Supervised by experts in invasive weed management, Weed Wrangle volunteers will learn, practice, and begin a habit of maintaining an area free of invasive plants. Join the volunteer efforts on Sat., March 4 at 9:00 a.m. All tools will be provided. Please wear long pants and close-toed shoes. Bring gloves if you have them.

Greenway Farm is a 180-acre city park along North Chickamauga Creek in Hixson, featuring 6 miles of trails, canoe access points, rental facilities, and a dog park. Some of the wooded areas in the park have invasive plants such as English Ivy taking over. Join the volunteer efforts to clear these invasives on Sat., March 4 at 9:00 a.m. All tools will be provided. Please wear long pants and close-toed shoes. Bring gloves and hand pruners if you have them and a water bottle. We will be working on uneven terrain.

The Tennessee River Gorge is a unique natural treasure where 27 miles of the Tennessee River have created a scenic passageway of natural beauty that winds through the Southern Cumberland Mountains. The River Gorge is home to more than 1,100 varieties of plants, ferns, trees, flowers, six threatened species, and 24 endangered species.  Please help us preserve this pristine land! Join the Tennessee River Gorge Trust in removing invasive plants like privet and bush honeysuckle at the Pot Point Cabin, 17805 River Canyon Road. The Trust will provide lunch, water, gloves, and tools.The volunteer event will start at 12 p.m. and go until 3:00 p.m. The Trust will provide lunch, water, gloves, and tools.

The Chattanooga Audubon Society is the oldest conservancy organization in the Chattanooga Area and protects over 500 acres on three sanctuaries across Hamilton County.  Audubon Acres in East Brainerd offers more than 5 miles of hiking trails over 130 acres on the South Chickamauga Creek. Help clear privet and other invasives from this natural treasure. Tools will be provided, but please bring your own if you wish. Please wear long pants and close-toed shoes. Bring gloves if you have them. 

Spring Breaker Day Camp March 6 to April 10
Cloudland Canyon invites children ages 6-12 to attend an interactive Spring Breaker Day Camp with a park ranger. Camp dates are Mondays, March 6 through April 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $20 plus the $5 park entry fee. While the kiddos are playing with the ranger at day camp, parents can relax at the park or go on a hiking date! Camp activities will include nature hikes, arts and crafts, outdoor games, fishing, and more. Pre-registration required at the Visitor Center. Call the park at 706-657-4050 or click here for more info. 

Camp Chair Cinema March 18

Join Adventureitus Productions and Dale Sanders at Outdoor Chattanooga for Camp Chair Cinema on Saturday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. for the showing of "Dale Sanders Source to Sea". This film showcases the adventure of Dale Sanders who set out to be the oldest man, at age 80, to ever paddle the entirety of the Mississippi River; from its source in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. He hit the water with his best friend, Richard Sojourner, age 70, and the Adventureitus Productions crew to capture the record-setting paddle. The team faced intense heat and flooding waters throughout the journey. Follow Sanders along his 80 day adventure. Stay after the film for a Q&A with Dale. Appropriate for all audiences. Indoor viewing. Bring your own chair, snack and nonalcoholic beverage. Popcorn will be provided. Email Outdoor Chattanooga or call (423) 643-6888 for more info.

Pollinator Patch Planting Day on S. Chickamauga Creek Greenway March 25
Join the City of Chattanooga Parks Department as they plant beautiful flowers and shrubs to help provide food and shelter for butterflies, hummingbirds, birds, and bees. In partnership with the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance a 'Pollinator Patch' will be installed at the Hawthorne St. Trailhead on the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway. There are three 2-hour shifts available on Sat., March 25 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please bring gloves and wear long pants and close-toed shoes. No planting experience needed, but helpful. Sign up to volunteer here.

Community News

Southeast Conservation Corps Job Openings
The Southeast Conservation Corps is accepting applications for enthusiastic high school students ages 16-18 and young adults ages 18-30, to work on their youth conservation and Americorps conservation crews this summer. Positions are open for in town and camping crews that will work on regional trail building and conservation projects. To learn more, and to apply, click here.

Bike Chattanooga to Release New FIT Bikes this Month
The City of Chattanooga's Bike Chattanooga Bicycle Transit System invites the public to view the new FIT Bike Share Bikes at the Chattanooga Marathon EXPO in the First Tennessee pavilion this weekend. Bike Chattanooga Ambassadors will have the new ICONIC and FIT bikes on display Friday, March 3 from 3 to 7 pm, Saturday, March 4 from 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, March 5 from 9 am to 2 pm. Thanks to a grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation, the new FIT bikes will be released into Bike Chattanooga's 37 station system this month. 

Mountain Bike Rentals Now Available At Cloudland Canyon State Park

Cloudland Canyon State Park is now offering Marin Bobcat Trail mountain bike rentals! Bikes are available to rent for $35 (half-day) and $55 (full day.) Payments for rentals are made at the park visitor center, and mountain bikes can be picked up at the park's interpretive center. Mountain bikers can access and take their rentals on the 14-mile Cloudland Connector Trail to the Five Points Recreation Area for more than 23 miles of trails that will eventually connect to the Chattanooga Connector Trail and downtown Chattanooga. Experience singletrack trails ranging in difficulty from moderate to strenuous, featuring contour line trails, loops and challenging jumps. Cloudland Canyon State Park also offers a Mountain Bike Hike every Tuesday and Sunday, March through November, where riders can rent bikes (or bring their own) and explore the trails led by an interpretive ranger.  
Tennessee State Parks offer Free Guided Hikes March 18
Ring in Spring in a Tennessee State Park! All Tennessee State Parks will offer free Spring Hikes guided by park staff on Saturday, March 18. 

Ocoee River Opening Day March 18
For all the whitewater junkies out there, the Ocoee River Opening day is March 18! What more do you need to know?! Get out and paddle!

3 State 3 Mountain Challenge Course Change 

Learn more about the challenge and why the courses had to be altered here.

Upcoming Events

1        Try Archery
4        Lula Lake Open Gate Day
          Weed Wrangle
4-5     Chattanooga Marathon
         Trails Training Days
7        Rapid Learning Kayak Roll Class
8        Try Archery
9        Therapeutic Recreation Fundraiser
10      Paddling by Moonlight
         Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
11      Nature Calls 15K & 5K
         Orienteering 101 @ Cloudland Canyon 
12      Sitton's Gulch Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
         10 for the Trails SORBA Fundraiser
13      Learn to Ride a Bike Class
15      Wildflower Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
18      Camp Chair Cinema
         Free Spring Hikes offered @ all TN State Parks
         Spring Big Six Waterfall Hike (SOLD OUT)
         Spring Hike to Rattlesnake Falls
         Spring Sunrise Hike @ Harrison Bay
         Spring Scavenger Hunt @ Booker T. Park 
         Savage Gulf Marathon
         Wildflower Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
         Plant Natives 2017 - Designing for Nature Symposium
         Ocoee River Opening Day
19      Fall Creek Falls 50K and Half Marathon
20      Bike Commuting 101
         Wildflower Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
20-24  YMCA Bold Gold Spring Break Ski Trip
         YMCA Bold Gold Girls Fishing Trip
24      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
24-25  Ragnar Relay
24-26  March Spring Waterfall Tour
25      Lula Lake Open Gate Day
         Chattanooga Native American Festival
         Rock Creek River Gorge 10.2 mile Race
         Wildflower Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
25-26  Chattanooga Native American Festival
26      Black Forest Classic-TYMBR Series
         Wildflower Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
31      IMBA Instruction Certification Course-Level 1

1         Wildflower Tram Tour
          Scenic City Trail Marathon
          Ocoee River Jam Spring Sneak-a-Peek
          Lula Lake Open Gate Day
          Sitton's Gulch Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
          Star Party @ Cloudland Canyon
2         Mountain to Town Bike Adventure
4         Rapid Learning Kayak Roll Class
6-10    YMCA Bold Gold Washington D.C. Trip
7         Paddle by Moonlight
          Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
8         Running with Sasquatch 5K
          Cumberland Trail Spring Festival
          Ocowassee Festival
          Green Onion Spring Fling-TYMBR Series
10       Learn to Ride a Bike
15       Locomotion 12
17       Bike Commuting 101
21       Intro to Mountain Biking-Skills Class
21-23   Horton 100
          Joyful One Yoga Weekend Retreat
22       Chickamauga Chase Trail Race
          Earth Day Tree Planting @ Cloudland Canyon
          Chattanooga Earth Day Rally
22-23  Leave No Trace Trainer Certification Course
24       Adaptive Cycling
28       Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
28-30  Gee Creek Dual Sport Expedition
          Velo View Bike Tour-Great Smoky Mountains
29      Blue Ridge Trout Festival
         Lula Lake Open Gate Day
30      Sitton's Gulch Hike @ Cloudland Canyon

5         Intro to Mountain Bike Skills Class
5-6      3 State 3 Mountain Challenge
6         Rabid Raccoon 25K
          Star Party @ Cloudland Canyon
6-7      Lula Lake Open Gate Weekend
12       Paddle by Moonlight
          Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
12-14   Velo View Bike Tour-Tour de Farms
13       Chattanooga City Trail 30K & 10K
13-14   Mountain Arts & Crafts Festival
14       Sitton's Gulch Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
19       National Bike to Work Day
          Intro to Mountain Bike
20       Thunder Rock 100 Mile Trail Race
          FahrvergNOOGA-TYMBR Series
21       Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga
26       Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
27       Adventure Fest: Chattanooga
27-28   Tennessee Spring Star Party
          Lula Lake Open Gate Weekend
29       Sitton's Gulch Hike @ Cloudland Canyon

2-4     USMS Open Water National Championships
          TVCC Paddle School
3        Lula Lake Open Gate Weekend
9        River City Sessions at Lula Lake
          Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
10-11  Mullberry Gap's TYMBR Series Weekend
12-16  Junior Ranger Summer Camp @ Cloudland Canyon
16-18  Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race
17      Star Party @ Cloudland Canyon
23      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
24-25  Lula Lake Open Gate Weekend

7        Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
15      Chattanooga Hero's Run/Walk 5 Miles
21      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
29      Star Party @ Cloudland Canyon

4        Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
5        Still Hollow Trail Race
21      Solar Eclipse 2017
25      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon

1        Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
2-4     Catfish Rodeo @ Cloudland Canyon
16-21  Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee (BRAT)
22      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
23      Star Party @ Cloudland Canyon
23-24  WFA Certification
24      Ironman Chattanooga
30      Stump Jump 50K
         Your State Parks Day @ Cloudland Canyon
         Bunker Buster-TYMBR Series
6        Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
6-21    RiverRocks Chattanooga
8        Chattanooga Celebration & Ciclovia
14      Swim the Suck
20      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
21      Urban Nature 10K
         Star Party @ Cloudland Canyon
28      Stone Fort Stomp 4.2 Miles
28-29  Red Clay PowWow

3        Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
4-5     TYMBR Series Championship
11      Upchuck 50K
24      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon

2        Stillhouse 100K
17      Lookout Mountain 50 Miler, 21 Miler, 5K & 10K Trail Race
22      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon
29      Night Hike @ Cloudland Canyon

green|spaces Receives $50,000 Pay For Success Project Grant

green|spaces has been selected as a Pay for Success grant recipient from the Corporation for National and Community Service. "The $50,000 grant will help bring new services to residents in Chattanooga," officials said.  "The Pay for Success grant provides funding and technical assistance services to develop sustainable in-home projects that work to solve structural health ... (click for more)

green|spaces Initiates Straw Take Over Events For Skip The Straw Campaign

green|spaces is hosting three Straw Take Over events as a part of their “Skip the Straw” campaign, an effort to "the number of plastic straws that pollute the environment." The first Straw Take Over will be Oct. 19 at Bluegrass Grill from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., followed by the second Straw Take Over on Oct. 25 at Niedlov's Breadworks from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.  The Straw Take ... (click for more)

Charles Pipkens, Lajeromeney Brown Arrested In Series Of Violent Home Invasions In Which Robbers Posed As Police

Chattanooga Police have arrested Charles Dijon Pipkens and Lajeromeney Brown in connection with a series of violent home invasions in which the suspects told their victims they were Chattanooga Police officers.. Pipkens, 27, was charged in an Aug. 11 case and Brown, 40, in an incident on Sept. 19. Pipkens, of 434 N. Hickory St., is charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping, ... (click for more)

Fairyland PTO Says It Can't Get Help From Walker County Schools And Board For Cafeteria Woes

Officials of the Fairyland Elementary School PTO said in recent months, the Fairyland Elementary School cafeteria "has effectively been shut down due to equipment (which broke in June) and consequent staffing issues." The group said, "As it stands now, all food is 'satellited' in from Ridgeland High School to Fairyland Elementary School for all meals including breakfast, lunch ... (click for more)

Drink Up, Chattanooga

I attended the meeting to discuss the placement of the sewage treatment plant at the Cambridge Center in Ooltewah today. My problem with the meeting (aka) dog and pony show, is that the meeting started out with the agenda of the Ooltewah Community Council.  After living in this area for 45+ years I have never heard of this group.  I would like for someone to answer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

The reviews are good after we initiated “The Funny Video of the Week” but today let me take the liberty of sharing an oldie that I consider the funniest of all time. Please be aware the principals are speaking Polish, which you also need to know makes not a bit of difference. I have watched “The Polish Spoon Trick” at least 50 times because every time I watch the video it makes ... (click for more)