Upper and Lower Leda
Type: Sport and Trad
Leda is a small crag located between two switchbacks of Montlake Road, just west of Soddy Daisy. The Sandstone bluff offers a large variety of routes and is a great place to fit in a quick climbing session. Its location near the Blue Hole in North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area makes it favorable for summer climbing. Because of its proximity to a busy road, please keep dogs leashed at all times. A guide to the crag can be found in the latest Dixie Cragger’s Atlas for Tennessee. This site is maintained by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. (http://www.seclimbers.org/index.php)
Access: From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-North to the Thrasher Pike Exit. Turn left off the exit ramp onto Thrasher Pike. Proceed for 0.8 mile, then turn left onto Dayton Pike. After 0.7 mile, turn left onto Montlake Road. Parking for the climbing area is between the first and second switchbacks in the road, just past the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area parking lot. Park on the side of the road, cross the road, and take the trail up to the crag.
Attention: The Landowner of Montlake Properties has asked all climbers to sign a liability waiver to climb at Leda*. Waivers can be found online at (http://www.seclimbers.org/modules/area/little-rock-city-waiver.php). Waivers can also be found at Leda in the kiosk. Please submit signed waivers to Montlake Golf Club House or put them in the box at the Leda kiosk. The waiver only has to be turned in once, ever. If you have already signed a waiver for Little Rock City, then you don’t have to sign one again for Leda.
Little Rock City / Stone Fort
LRC/Stone Fort hosts some of the best bouldering in the Southeast. Iron rails running through sandstone boulders create versatile routes and beautiful lines at almost every difficulty level, making it great for everyone from beginners to experts. The gorgeous setting makes it ideal for hanging out all day, but its proximity to downtown Chattanooga makes it a great spot for those in a hurry, too. Stone Fort is located on private property, adjacent to the Montlake Golf Course, so all visitors must sign a waiver and pay $3 before entering. The fee for kids 10 and under is $1, and annual passes are available for $120. Dogs are prohibited.
Access: From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-North to the Thrasher Pike Exit. Turn left off the exit ramp onto Thrasher Pike. Proceed for 0.8 mile, then turn left onto Dayton Pike. After 0.7 mile, turn left onto Montlake Road. Take Montlake Road to the top of Mowbray Mountain, and turn right into the Montlake subdivision (Brow Lake Road). Park in the designated climbers parking area next to the golf course pro shop, and check in at the pro shop.
More information: http://www.seclimbers.org/modules.php?name=area&file=little-rock-city
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North Chickamauga Creek Greenway
Length: 2 miles
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.
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.
Length: Approximately 1.2 miles
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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The Blue Hole
This series of beautiful swimming holes occurs along North Chickamauga Creek in the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area. Swimming and creek hiking are encouraged. However, alcohol and other drugs are prohibited. The Blue Hole has historically suffered from prolific littering, so please pack out whatever you pack in. Also, bringing a trash bag and picking up litter along the way is strongly encouraged and greatly appreciated.
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. Follow the main trail out of the parking lot. Stay on this trail for 5-10 minutes before veering left to cross over the creek. Follow the trail on the other side of the creek until you reach your favorite swimming spot!
Falling Water Falls State Natural Area
Contact: Town of Walden: (423) 886-4362
Division of Natural Areas, East TN Office: (865) 594-5601
Falling Water Falls is a 136-acre natural area in Hamilton County. It is named for the 110’ high 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 the 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. Falling Water Creek is a great place for creek hiking, and there are several great swimming holes along the creek.
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 top of the escarpment. A short trail leads to the falls and a commanding view of the Tennessee Valley. Either start your creek hike at the falls or follow the trail to the bottom of the falls and begin your creek hike there.
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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Boating – Flatwater
Tennessee River Blueway
Formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the 1930’s, and designated as a river trail in 2002, the Tennessee River Blueway flows through Chattanooga, TN and the Tennessee River Gorge for over 45 miles, from Chickamauga Dam to Nickajack Dam. It provides opportunities for canoeists and kayakers to take day trips, or camp overnight in marinas, parks, or in designated Blueway primitive campsites. Kayakers and canoeists have the opportunity to visit wildlife preserves and camp on protected lands as they share the Tennessee River with commercial barge traffic, bass fishermen, and recreational boaters.
Industrial sites in downtown Chattanooga give way to the high, forested walls of the Gorge, where agencies and land trusts protect thousands of acres. When the river opens up for the final miles to Nickajack Dam, the Tennessee River system shows off its immense scope and influence.
The Blueway officially starts below the Chickamauga Dam. However, it’s a great addition to start on North Chickamauga Creek. The recently restored Sniteman cabin is available for overnight camping, and there are several boat launches at Greenway Farm. Boat launches are located just behind the dog park parking lot, behind the Sniteman Cabin, and at the Southern Entrance (which is currently closed). Contact North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy to reserve the Sniteman Cabin.
The TN River Blueway, Point-by-Point:
471.0 Chickamauga Dam
469.0 Tennessee Riverpark (Launch)
468.0 Rivermont Park (Launch)
467.8 South Chickamauga Creek (Launch)
464.8 Downtown Chattanooga/Maclellan Island (Camp)
464.4 Coolidge Park (Launch)
463.6 Ross’s Landing (Launch)
459.0 Lookout Creek (Camp – Chattanooga Nature Center)
455.2 Williams Island (Camp)
453.3 Suck Creek Boat Ramp (Launch)
451.5 Suck Creek
447.7 Pot Point (Camp)
444.5 Prentice Cooper S.F. (Camp)
444.4 TVA Raccoon Mtn. (Launch)
440.0 Sullivan’s Landing (Launch/Store)
432.4 Oates Island (Camp – Seasonal)
431.0 Hales Bar Marina (Camp)
429.0 Marion Co. Park (Camp/Launch)
426.0 TWRA Boat Ramp (Launch)
425.5 Shellmound Rec. Area (Camp/Launch)
424.7 Nickajack Dam
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Boating – Whitewater
North Chickamauga Creek: Walden’s Ridge to Soddy Daisy:
Difficulty: IV-V (for normal flows)
Length: 12 Miles
Avg. Gradient: 90 fpm
More information: www.waldensridgewhitewater.com
Access: There are a couple of put-in options for North Chick. The easiest run of these is to put in on North Chick. The second option would be to put in on Cain Creek. Putting in on Cain Creek adds quite a bit of Class 4 and 5 whitewater but eliminates a waterfall on the North Chick side. For the hardcore there is the option of putting in on Cooper Creek, but be warned that if Cooper is running you’re gonna be in for a high water adventure on the Chick. Finding the put-in on either side is a bit of an adventure. It’s best to go with someone who knows the trail system. For both the Chick and the Cain Creek sides you’re going to be in for at least a 30 minute walk to the river. (It’s worth it.)
Directions: Gray Fryar Road (About 16 miles from downtown Chattanooga) From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-N. Take the exit for 127-N/Signal Mountain Blvd. Take 127-N up Signal Mountain. Stay on 127-N for about 11 miles before turning right onto Corral Road. Proceed for 1.3 miles before turning left onto Gray Fryar Road. This is a dead-end street with no public parking. Locals have been boater-friendly in the past, so ask permission to park. Follow the drainage ditch off to the left; it goes straight to the creek.
Hixson Springs Creek
Hike: About 30 minutes
When the North Chick Gauge is at 2.8 you can put in at Hixson Springs Creek along the powerline in the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge SNA (Flipper Bend Area) and paddle down to North Chick. This will put you in right above Mystery Falls. Park at the Flipper Bend Trailhead, at the intersection of Hixson Springs Road and Standing Rock Road. At levels below 2.8 you will probably have to walk down the creek bed to North Chick but it is not far. This access keeps you off private land and allows you to cut out the flat water.
Major drops include Mystery Falls, North Chick Falls, Cyclops, Diana’s Ledge, V-Slot, and the Bowling Alley. The take-out is in the Bowater Pocket Wilderness area off of Montlake Road. For detailed directions to the put-in, check with Rock/Creek Down Under in Chattanooga. Rock/Creek is the outfitting shop for local creekers.
Directions: From downtown Chattanooga, take 27-N toward Soddy Daisy. Take the Dayton Pike/Chickamauga Dam exit, and turn left off the exit ramp. After about 1 mile, turn left onto Roberts Mill Road. Take Roberts Mill Road up the mountain. At the top, veer right onto Hixson Springs Road. The parking lot is about a mile down Hixson Springs Road on the left.
Cain Creek to North Chickamauga Creek
Length: 6 miles
Difficulty: IV-V (for normal flows)
If the river is running, no doubt someone will be there. A new gauge is located just upstream from the bottom parking lot. About 2 ft+ is good.
The put-in is down a trail on the right, off of Barker Camp Road. You will hike this trial for about a half mile before reaching the small stream below. When you get on the creek, remember to look at the gauge at the first bend to the right. There you will see it nailed to a hemlock. Six inches is about the minimum.
The rapids start with several class III ledges and slides. ‘Mandatory Portage’ is the first significant rapid on the creek. Yet, despite its name, it is run quite frequently. The drop is a boulder choke about five feet tall and on river right. Scout atop of boulder on river left. Take note of the undercut immediately following to drop on river right.
A fun s-turn slide follows this rapid to the confluence with Mossy Creek. Mossy Creek doubles the flow. When the creek takes a large turn to the right be prepared to make some tight moves at the next rapid left of the island (scout it) or a portage (on river right).
After following a few drops on river left, catch the right eddy before going into the sieve. From this pool, you can scrape your way on down to ‘Big Splat.’ ‘Big Splat’ is a ten-foot river-wide drop. The best line is just left of the rooster tail with a slight right hand angle. The landing is extremely shallow, but whatever you do, try not to pencil in with no momentum. It will hurt.
Next is the mighty class V ‘Vortex.’ Run left and slide down the sandstone “finger” with a hard right angle. Punch a few holes and you have done it! Portage with help on river right. Vertical lines open up on river right with high water, but are not suggested for the slabs of sandstone that tend to grab boats.
Continue through the mini-gorge that ends with a four-foot creek-wide ledge which can become sticky at high levels. The next turn holds an excellent series of rapids called ‘Drainpipe.’ Eddy hop your way down several s-turns following the main flow of water. Make sure to note the large eddy on river left that you will need to catch before the last drop, which is around eight feet. Boof hard with a slight right angle.
Check out the huge cliff you are now under…watch out for falling ice! The rapids from here to the confluence with the North Chickamauga are mostly class III+ with several class IV to run as well. North Chick is probably the largest watershed on Walden’s Ridge, hence the longer runnable window and its large river-like characteristics found in its last miles. Excellent class III-V drops, depending on water levels, will be encountered below the Cain confluence, the most memorable of which is North Chick falls–portage left, run it, or run right side of the island. Some great holes will be found downstream and downright excellent class IV’s.
Access: 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. Proceed for about 5 miles, going up Mowbray Mountain. At the top of 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. When you reach the gravel parking lot, take the trail to the right all the way down to Cain Creek.
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