For the first time, a complete guidebook dedicated to Chattanooga’s best hiking trails has been released.
"Five-Star Trails: Chattanooga" by Johnny Molloy highlights 40 of the region’s best trails. The book was released by Menasha Ridge Press, the leading outdoor adventure and travel publisher since 1982.
Click here for more information on the book.
The book includes hikes for all ages and skill levels with the goal of offering hikers an opportunity to enjoy the Cherokee National Forest, Chickamauga Creek, Fort DeSoto and Red Clay State Park.
Each hike description contains directions to the site, insight into local history, and descriptions of the flora and fauna visible in the area.
A columnist for the Johnson City Press, Molloy averages 120 nights in the wild per year. He has spent 750 nights in the Smokies. He has written 45 books, including "Canoeing and Kayaking Florida" and "Day and Overnight Hikes: Great Smoky Mountains National Park."
We asked Molloy to give Nooga.com readers five underappreciated hikes around Chattanooga. Here is his list.
Pot Point Nature Trail
This 3.4-mile loop hike has two distinct segments. The first part explores the lower slope of the Tennessee River Gorge as a self-guided nature trail. Numbered posts accompany a handout detailing human and natural history of the canyon. The second part of the hike dips to the Tennessee River and runs along Chattanooga’s master waterway, giving you looks at the river, framed by the mighty gorge of the Tennessee River. The Pot Point Cabin, which you will pass at the end of the hike, is available for day or overnight rental. It can sleep 10 people and accompany 50 for events.
Possum Creek Gorge
This remote section of the Cumberland Trail explores a craggy parcel of the Cumberland Plateau on a 9.6-mile there-and-back hike. Hikers are challenged with a rocky trail that is rarely level. Start by tracing Blanchard Creek to bridge Big Possum Creek; then, hike below a long cliff line. Soak in a vista near Perkins Point. Turn into Little Possum Creek Gorge, reaching remarkable Stack Rock. Walk along a now-wooded strip mine. Leave the mined area and reach Imodium Falls, a worthy destination.
Old Copper Road Trail
This nearly level day hike starts at the popular Ocoee Whitewater Center in the Cherokee National Forest. Trace a restored section of the Old Copper Road, once used to transport copper ore from Ducktown to a rail line in Cleveland. Today, you walk alongside the rocky Ocoee River, passing open sunning rocks and beneath wooded flats, tracing the same route of those 17 decades distant. The path is very level, well-marked and easy, making it fun for anyone. Allow time to explore the Ocoee Whitewater Center environs before or after your hike.
George Disney Trail
This short but tough 1.4-mile hike scrambles up the north side of Rocky Face Mountain, climbing to the grave of a Confederate soldier en route to far-ranging views from open outcrops that give this peak a name. Because it isn’t far to the top from the trailhead, anybody can make the climb by taking ample breaks. A fit person can make it without stopping, then once atop the mountain won’t stop gaping at the panoramas.
DeSoto State Park Loop
This 5.5-mile loop cobbles a multitude of trails to form a highlight reel of Alabama’s DeSoto State Park. First, the Quarry Trail snakes among boulders and other rock formations to reach a Civilian Conservation Corps pit used in developing the park in the 1930s. Join the serpentine family bike loop; then, enter the striking Laurel Creek Valley, walking over open stone slabs and beside big boulders framed in mountain laurel, rhododendron and azaleas. Visit three waterfalls: Lost Falls, Laurel Falls and Azalea Cascades. Explore an amazing boulder garden; then, finish the circuit.
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