Adventure

Signal Mountain

North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area

Length: 7.23 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Uses: Foot traffic only
Blaze: White

Additional Information and maps:
http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/north_chickamauga.html

Upon completion, the Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park – Tennessee’s only linear park – will be 300 miles, cutting through 11 Tennessee counties from the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the Tennessee-Virginia-Kentucky border, to the Signal Point near Chattanooga. One hundred fifty miles of the Cumberland Trail are currently open and ready for exploration. About 10 miles of the Cumberland Trail run through North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area. Starting from the Montlake Road Trailhead, the trail winds along North Chickamauga Creek before beginning a climb up to the base of the rock bluff. The trail then follows the base of the bluff, going past old coal mines and over piles of coal overburden, providing fascinating views of rock formations and even rock fossils. After about two miles, a series of wooden ladders take the trail from the bottom of the bluff to the top of the bluff. Just past the ladders is an overlook with incredible views of North Chickamauga Creek Gorge. Further down the trail is a creek crossing with a cable handrail and another ladder that takes the trail back down to the base of the bluff. A steep drop and another ladder take the trail all the way down to the creek, where it stays until it reaches Stevenson Branch Campsite. The campsite is about 4.5 miles from the Montlake Road Trailhead. Beyond the campsite, the trail crosses Cooper Creek, then begins a long, steady climb. The trail begins to wind in and out of lush, cool hemlock coves, following the contours of the land. An overlook just past Panther Branch provides additional views of the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge. The trail continues, going between the edge of the plateau and the edge of a recently timbered site. It ends at a gravel parking lot that is currently not accessible to the public. Follow the gravel road to the top, where there is a locked gate. Parking is available behind the gate, or hikers can set up a shuttle.

Camping is permitted at Stevenson Branch Campsite, which is approximately 4.5 miles from the Montlake Road Trailhead or about 2.7 miles from the Barker Camp Trailhead. Camping is free, but campers must reserve the campsite by calling 423-566-2229 or by registering online at
http://www.cumberlandtrail.org/north_chickamauga.html#camp_registration.

Access and Directions: There are two trailheads for this section of the Cumberland Trail. The main trailhead is off of Montlake Road. From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-N towards Soddy Daisy. Take the Thrasher Pike exit, and turn left onto Thrasher Pike. After about 1 mile, turn right onto Dayton Pike. Stay on Dayton
Pike for 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Montlake Road. The trailhead is just before the switchbacks on the left side of the road.

The second trailhead is at Barker Camp. From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-N towards Soddy Daisy. Take the Thrasher Pike exit, and turn left onto Thrasher Pike. After about 1 mile, turn right onto Dayton Pike. Stay on Dayton Pike for 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Montlake Road. Stay on Montlake Road for about 5 miles, going up Mowbray Mountain. At the top of the mountain and after 5 miles, turn left onto Poe Road. Stay on Poe Road for 6.3 miles, then turn left onto Grant Road. After 0.3 miles, veer left onto Barker Camp Road. Stay on this road until it reaches the locked gate. Park behind the gate and walk the rest of the way in, keeping to the right at all forks in the road.

Many hikers set up a shuttle. Park one car at the Montlake Road Trailhead. Take the other car to the Barker Camp Trailhead. Hike down the trail, then take the car at the Montlake Road Trailhead to retrieve the car at the Barker Camp Trailhead.

Flipper Bend Loop

Length: 9.0 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Uses: Foot traffic only
Blaze: White

The Flipper Bend Loop follows a combination of singletrack trails and old logging roads. It winds through upland forest and takes hikers past two overlooks. The Powerline Overlook is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead and provides views of Soddy Daisy and the Tennessee River Valley. The Pocket Wilderness Overlook is about 4.0 miles from the trailhead and provides views of the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge. The loop consists mostly of gradual elevation changes with intermittent moderately steep sections.

Access: To reach the Flipper Bend Area Trails, take 27-North out of downtown Chattanooga. Take the 153/Dayton Pike Exit, and turn left onto Dayton Pike. After about .5 mile, turn left onto Roberts Mill Road. Follow Roberts Mill Road to the top of the mountain, and veer right onto Hixson Springs Road. After about 1.3 miles, turn left into the gravel parking lot at the intersection of Hixson Springs Road and Standing Rock Road.

Clear Branch Short Loop

Length: 1.8 miles (Total 6.6 miles)
Difficulty: Moderate
Uses: Foot traffic only
Blaze: Single blue blaze

The Clear Branch Short Loop branches off of the Flipper Bend Loop 2.4 miles from the trailhead. The trail continues to wind through upland forest before intersecting Clear Branch. The trail then follows the creek, taking hikers through beautiful hemlock coves and serenading them with gurgling water. After about 1.2 miles, the Short Loop intersects the Long Loop. The trail climbs back up the drainage to intersect with the Flipper Bend Trail.

Access: To reach the Flipper Bend Area Trails, take 27-North out of downtown Chattanooga. Take the
153/Dayton Pike Exit, and turn left onto Dayton Pike. After about .5 mile, turn left onto Roberts Mill Road. Follow Roberts Mill Road to the top of the mountain, and veer right onto Hixson Springs Road. After about 1.3 miles, turn left into the gravel parking lot at the intersection of Hixson Springs Road and Standing Rock Road.

Clear Branch Long Loop

Length: 4.9 miles (Total 9.6 miles)
Difficulty: Moderate
Uses: Foot traffic only
Blaze: Double blue blaze

The Clear Branch Long Loop branches off of the Flipper Bend Loop 2.4 miles from the trailhead. The trail follows the single blue blaze of the Clear Branch Short Loop for about 1.2 miles. It then branches off and is marked with a double blue blaze. The trail climbs up towards the edge of Walden’s Ridge, winds through several rock gardens, and eventually takes hikers right along the edge of the bluff, where there are multiple opportunities for fantastic views of the Tennessee River Valley. The trail then heads back down to intersect with the Clear Branch Short Loop and reconnect into the Flipper Bend Loop.

Access: To reach the Flipper Bend Area Trails, take 27-North out of downtown Chattanooga. Take the 153/Dayton Pike Exit, and turn left onto Dayton Pike. After about .5 mile, turn left onto Roberts Mill Road. Follow Roberts Mill Road to the top of the mountain, and veer right onto Hixson Springs Road. After about 1.3 miles, turn left into the gravel parking lot at the intersection of Hixson Springs Road and Standing Rock Road.
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Hixson

North Chickamauga Creek Greenway

Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Uses: Foot traffic and bicycling

The North Chickamauga Creek Greenway begins just upstream from the confluence of North Chickamauga Creek and the Tennessee River and reaches its temporary northern terminus just North of Hamill Road. Starting from its northern terminus, the trail begins in hardwood forest and follows North Chickamauga Creek under the Hamill Road bridge. It winds its way around Greenway Farm, then leads into a steep climb up and over an old rock quarry. It then mellows out, turning into rolling hills running through mature hardwood forest and continuing to parallel the creek. The Greenway reaches its southern terminus at the currently closed South Entrance, just upstream from the Chickamauga Dam construction site.

There are two loops available on the main Greenway trail. The Upper Loop is a shorter loop; if beginning at the northern end of the Greenway, the Upper Loop is about 1.5 miles, one way. The Lower Loop, if beginning at the northern terminus, is about 2 miles one way. The trail surface consists of a combination of pavement and gravel. The path is moderately hilly with short sections of steep climbs and descents.

Access: The North Chickamauga Creek Greenway can be accessed from several points at Greenway Farm, located at 5051 Gann Store Road in Hixson. Greenway Farm is just 10 miles from downtown Chattanooga. Take Amnicola Highway North toward Chattanooga State. Veer right onto Dupont Parkway/319-North. After 3 miles, at the T intersection, turn left onto 153-North. Take the first right onto Hamill Road. Proceed for 1.5 miles. Just after crossing over North Chickamauga Creek, turn right into Greenway Farm. The trail can be easily accessed from any of the parking areas. Restrooms are available across from the dog park and in the Greenway Farm house. The South Entrance is currently closed.

Boy Scout Trail

Length: Approximately 1.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Uses: Foot Traffic Only

The Boy Scout Trail is located within TVA’s Big Ridge Small Wild Area. The trail makes a loop, going to the top of Big Ridge and back down to the Greenway. The entirety of the trail is dirt singletrack, and it goes through some of the oldest forest in the North Chickamauga Creek watershed.

Access: The Boy Scout Trail branches off of the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway about 0.7 miles from the parking lot next to the Outdoor Chattanooga barn. Take the Greenway up and over the quarry and past the Upper Loop. The Boy Scout Trail is the first trail on the left past the southernmost turn-off for the Upper Loop.

Ropes Course Trail

Length: Approximately 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Uses: Foot traffic and bicycling

The Ropes Course Trail makes a loop through the Adventure Guild’s ropes course. The ropes course obstacles are off limits to the public. However, the trail makes a great short loop for those looking for an alternative to the main Greenway. The entirety of the trail is dirt singletrack. It starts out by climbing up Big Ridge before flattening out and passing through the ropes course. It then descends and connects back into the main Greenway. The trail goes through lush forest and, in the spring, is a great trail for viewing wildflowers.

Access: The Ropes Course Trail branches off of the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway about 0.2 miles from the parking lot next to the Outdoor Chattanooga barn. Take the Greenway up and over the quarry. Just as the Greenway reaches the top of the quarry, turn left onto the Ropes Course Trail. The second intersection is just before the Greenway begins to descend to the base of the quarry.

Wildflower Trail

Length: Approximately 1.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Uses: Foot traffic and bicycling

The Wildflower Trail is a flat, easy trail that takes users through early successional forest and a small patch of native meadow. The trail surface is dirt and grass, and it is about 4 to 5 feet wide in most places. The trail traces a large bend in North Chickamauga Creek. This tract of land is in the flood plain, so parts of the trail are flooded during wet times of the year. In the summer, the Wildflower Trail is a favorite for blackberry picking, and in the winter, it’s a favorite for those looking for full sun. This trail is also great for bird watching and wildlife viewing.

Access: The Wildflower Trail branches off of the North Chickamauga Creek Greenway about 0.1 miles west (or downstream) of the Greenway Farm house or about 100 feet north of the Outdoor Chattanooga Barn.
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Walden

Falling Water Falls State Natural Area

Map: http://www.tn.gov/environment/na/natareas/fallingwater/fallingwater.pdf
Falling Water Falls is a 136-acre natural area in Hamilton County. It is named for the 110′ waterfall on Little Falling Water Creek that drops over the resistant sandstone cap of the Cumberland Plateau. It plunges into the Falling Water Gorge, tumbling over cascades and passing large moss covered boulders before joining Big Falling Water Creek in Pickett Gulf. The small cliff-top section of the natural area is in the town of Walden while most of the natural area is located below the falls in Soddy Daisy.

The vertical cliffs of the escarpment with its rugged, steep, rocky slopes appear in stark contrast to Falling Water Falls Gorge. The gorge is sheltered and stays moist with mist coming from the falls and cascades during most of the year. The sound of the big falls and the cascading whitewater below drowns out adjacent urban noise that might spoil the mood of this primitive and uniquely beautiful area. The area is home to a second growth hardwood forest comprised of oak-hickory and mixed mesophytic forest communities. There is an oak-pine forest on the drier parts of the natural area, particularly above the falls. Mountain laurel and rosebay rhododendron are common. Falling Water Falls supports a great diversity of plant and animal life including a small population of the federally endangered large-flowered skullcap (Scutellaria montana).

This diversity of forestland near a large urban area gives the area even greater significance. A scenic vista of the Tennessee River Valley, Pickett Gulf and Buzzard Point exists at the top of the falls above the 840-feet-high escarpment. Far below, Levi Cave is located at the base of the escarpment slope. A small two-feet wide hole leads down into a 750-feet-long cave consisting of several large rooms and dripstone formations.

Access: The natural area is open only from dawn to dusk. Limited public access is provided. A small parking area is located off Forest Park Drive on the top of the escarpment. A short trail leads to the falls and a commanding view of the Tennessee Valley. The valley portion of the natural area is accessed off Levi Rd. in Soddy Daisy, but currently there is no developed parking area here.

Directions: Falling Water Falls is located 10 miles north of downtown Chattanooga partly within the Town of Walden. From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-N. Take the exit for 127-N/Signal Mountain Blvd. Proceed to the top of Signal Mountain. North of Signal Mountain on Hwy 127, turn on Fairmount Pike at Fairmount Orchard. At the first stop sign bear right onto Key Hulse Street. Go straight through the four-way stop onto Lake St. Take a left onto Ivory Ave., and then bear right on Chestnut St. Go straight onto Forest Park Ave for about two miles to the parking area.
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