The temperatures are dropping, the leaves are changing, and the trails are calling!
Chattanooga is establishing itself as a trail running mecca. Competitive, well-marked and organized races through groups like Wild Trails and RockCreek Race Series draw people from all over the country to climb the mountains and witness the incredible beauty of the South.
The trail running community is huge and spread out in Chattanooga. Facebook groups like Scenic City Trail Runners, Cumberland Trail Runners, and Chattanooga Trail Runners as well as several groups on MeetUp are a great way to connect with local trail runners. At Fast Break, we offer a Tuesday night run up to Stringers Ridge from the store (Join Eric at 6pm!).
Some of the best resources for trails are found at your local running store (that’s us!) and outdoors store. However, a local and online resource is RootsRated which provides in-depth reviews on trails (and climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, and food/drink) not only in Chattanooga, but all over the country. Apps like AllTrails, MapMyRun, and Strava are also helpful for finding runs that people have logged in the past, or for logging your own or keeping stats on your fast friends (we NEVER do that!).
Our Staff Favorites
To give you a jump start on exploring our city’s beauty, we asked some of our staff members what their favorite trails to run are around Chattanooga. (Disclaimer... These trails might not be fun, or friendly...)
Annette: Stringers Ridge because of proximity. It’s close to downtown and only a few miles from my house. But hold onto your hat because these whirly, roller coaster runs will give you whiplash. Great for a 3-8 mile run. Raccoon Mountain is also a favorite because of varying distances and smoother terrain. The east overlook to the visitor center and back is about 9 miles.
Michael: The Guild Hardy Trail because you can hammer it out from Ruby Falls to the end and then run back. As a truck trail, it’s wide and less technical than other trails on Lookout Mountain. If you start at the Ochs Highway parking lot and go to the end of Guild and come back, it’s about 13 miles.
Katie: Lookout Mountain is one of my favorite places to find trails. Start at the Ruby Falls parking lot and go down the Guild Hardy trail till you see the Jura trail on the right. Take the Jura trail out to Skyuka Springs then climb up the mountain on the John Smart trail. At the top, hop onto the Bluff trail, one of the most beautiful trails in Chattanooga, continue all the way to Cravens House and take Guild back to Ruby Falls. I think that’s around 11-12 miles. It’s basically the Big Daddy Loop. I also love all the trails out at the Nature Center for an easy semi-flat/rolling hills recovery run.
Joey: One of my favorites is the Fiery Gizzard trail. It’s beautiful and you have Foster Falls at the end, a great climbing spot for rock climbers. Located in South Cumberland State Park, the trail, 12.7 miles one-way, is great for a long run or an extra long run if you go out and back. The run takes you into a beautiful forest with hemlocks, rock gardens, waterfalls, and the “mini-gorge” called Black Canyon.
Varina: A quick run with a beautiful view is a morning jog down St. Elmo Avenue and up the trail at the base of the mountain to Glen Falls. However on long runs, I love exploring the Cumberland Trail: parts of the Upchuck course and Edwards Point are always good choices.
Eric: I guess I’ll pick Mullens Cove (because that’s the only one that’s left!). It’s a good fitness gauge, especially with that climb up Haley Road. The views are awesome. Just being able to sit on Snoopers Rock a third of the way through the trail is amazing. And no matter how many times I’ve done it, I always take a wrong turn in the Rock Garden.
Now grab a friend, water bottle, and possibly a map, and EXPLORE!