Chattanooga Outdoor Activities for You and Your Family (Sponsored Content)

Long sunny days in Tennessee are best spent outdoors with family and friends. While well-known attractions like Ruby Falls, Rock City, and rafting on the Ocoee River are hotspots for family outings, there are dozens of other hidden gems to explore both in downtown Chattanooga. and in the surroundings.

Stroll through the heart of Chattanooga

If you’re looking for an easygoing and convenient outdoor activity with your family, look no further than the downtown Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, one of the longest in the world offering scenic views and great hiking opportunities. Pictures. On the downtown side of the bridge, you’ll find the Tennessee Riverwalk, a paved walking and biking trail that hugs the river for more than fifteen miles with plenty of parks and playgrounds along the way.

Across the pedestrian bridge in North Chattanooga, Coolidge Park and Renaissance Park are side-by-side parks with beautiful views of the river, downtown, and the pedestrian bridge. In addition to their grassy hills perfect for picnics, they’re also home to kid-friendly activities like Coolidge Park’s interactive water fountain and dollar rides on its antique carousel, and Renaissance Park nicknamed “Cardboard Hill”. Soak up city views from the top of the hill, then slide all the way down on sheets of cardboard for a fun activity for all ages.

Cool off in the water

For those looking to get out on the water this summer, Chattanooga’s Tennessee River and surrounding creeks offer plenty of options. Located part way up Lookout Mountain, the Glen Falls Trail is a short, level walk featuring a rustic stone stairway and gate, an enchanting waterfall, and a wading pool for swimmers. There is also a stream just past and above the swimming hole which is perfect for children who like to explore under the rocks.

Maintained by the Chattanooga Audubon Society and accessible only by canoe, kayak, or boat, Maclellan Island is an 18.8-acre nature sanctuary located in the middle of the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. Because part of the island lies under the Veterans Memorial Bridge, the island is home to a rainy desert, a unique microclimate where vegetation survives in the absence of rain and sun. Although this destination is primitive urban wilderness and you should plan your visit carefully, the island is equipped with restrooms, a picnic area and a campsite for permit holders. With 1.5 miles of trails and diverse wildlife, the island is a great place for light hikers, campers, and birdwatching families.

Find shade on the hiking trails

You’ll find more than fifty trailheads within thirty minutes of downtown Chattanooga, making it one of the most bike-friendly towns in the country. Lookout Mountain is famous for its many scenic trails like Craven’s House Loop, but there are also a few special gems to highlight north of town. Stringer’s Ridge sits just outside of downtown Chattanooga and hosts an urban hiking experience with short intertwining loop trails and sweeping views of the city below.

Twenty minutes outside of Chattanooga, just past Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, is the gulf of Big Soddy Creek, offering a 1.25-mile level path along a scenic creek with beautiful mountain views . It’s a perfect option for a relaxing hike with kids who like to play in the stream.

The Rainbow Lake Trail is located on Signal Mountain, ten minutes north of town. Perfect for the more experienced hiking family, it offers a 3 mile loop with rocky outcrops and a steep gorge climb to Signal Point at the end. Rainbow Lake is man-made, and its waterfall and trails are among the most beautiful in Tennessee. This area is protected under a conservation easement by the Land Trust for Tennessee, which has conserved over 1,300 acres in Hamilton County and over 130,000 acres in total. The organization strives to protect open public spaces, but it also works with individual landowners to conserve and protect important landscapes for future generations. For more information on his work, visit

Photo courtesy of Stephen Alvarez/Izzy O’Dell with her two children, Maddy and Tommy, getting ready for a hike.

“I feel so lucky to live in a place with such an abundance of opportunities to be outdoors. My family regularly hikes, bikes, paddleboards, picnics in the parks and walks over the Walnut St. Bridge.As a native of Chattanooga, knowing how different the city is decades ago, it’s always exciting to see so many people get out and enjoy this truly special place. ‘it is now.”

“I’ve been hiking with my daughter since she was a baby (Rainbow Lake was her first hike at just a few months old). Now seven years old, she’s growing up with a love for the outdoors and a sense of adventure that I know she will take it wherever she goes in life.”

~ Sarah O’Rear, Stewardship Director of the Land Trust for Tennessee

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