Come Out and Play!
Outdoor Chattanooga News + Events July 2020
As we continue to navigate the world of physical distancing and virtual programming, our newsletter looks different. The community events and activities we typically highlight have been replaced with virtual programs and information on how to experience the outdoors safely and responsibly during the on-going health crisis. With confirmed case counts and hospitalizations continuing to rise in our county and state, we are still relying primarily on our social media outlets to stay connected. We hope you'll continue to follow along.
Outdoor Chattanooga's PSA + Advice for Coping with COVID-19
If you have plans to celebrate the 4th of July and America's Independence this weekend, we kindly remind you to recreate responsibly in the great outdoors. We are still navigating a serious health crisis in this country with confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the rise here in Chattanooga and across the state. In fact, Governor Lee issued another executive order this week and many cities are mandating face coverings in public spaces to reduce infection rates. Even though we all have individual liberties as American, we also have a social responsibility to be considerate of those who are more vulnerable.
Our advice: stay close to home and avoid long distance traveling. Avoid crowded trails, swimming holes, crags, rivers, lakes, recreation areas and campgrounds. The outdoors is a safe place to be when you practice good judgement, good personal hygiene by washing hands frequently, maintaining physical distance of at least 6ft with others, and wearing a face covering when in close contact with others. We ask that you self quarantine if you've come in contact with someone who has tested positive or you yourself are experiencing symptoms. We want everyone to be around to celebrate America's Independence next year when we've safely made it out of the COVID-19 woods.  🏕️🌳🥾
We strongly believe the outdoors can be a place of solace and serenity while offering opportunities for reflection, recreation and connection with nature - all important elements of staying healthy, especially during a health crisis. While we practice social distancing and do our part to prevent the spread of the virus, we've compiled a list of park and public spaces closures, along with resources, ideas, and activities for how you can still experience the great outdoors in the greater Chattanooga region, in a variety of ways. Please note that some public restrooms and playgrounds are still closed or have limited ammenities. Be sure to visit our website and check the location/desitnation before you go. And continue to practice Leave No Trace Principles during COVID-19 .
Outdoor Chattanooga's Virtual Programs
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these difficult and uncertain times. Due to COVID cases and hospitalizations on the rise in Hamilton County, we have made the difficult decision not to resume any of our programs through the end of July and likely into August. We don't want to put anyone at risk of transmission or infection of the virus during close contact instruction. In the meantime, we will keep creating and sharing videos to help inspire you to get outside and play and maintain a healthy active lifestyle. Be sure to subscribe to our  Youtube Channel  and follow our  Facebook Page  for the latest videos and updates.
Virtual Bike Ride on South Chickamuaga Creek Greenway

We've noticed a lot more people riding their bicycles since the health crisis began. We love seeing folks having two wheeled fun and wanted to offer some suggestions on new/different places to ride that maybe you didn't know about. Check out our YouTube Channel for a full line up of how to videos!

Virtual Rapid Learning Skills Sessions
Rest assured  all memberships have been put on hold  until we are confident it's safe to get back in our boats again. We will keep creating and sharing videos to help you master the skills of whitewater kayaking. Be sure to follow our  Youtube Channel  and our  Rapid Learning Facebook Page  for the latest updates and virtual lessons.

Virtual Creek Canoe Tour
We created this virtual canoe tour on North Chickamauga Creek for the City of Chattanooga's Youth and Family Development Centers since we can't offer it in person this summer. Learn about the parts of the canoe before setting out on the creek with our instructors as they search for wildlife and Sasquatch along the way.
Sterchi Farm Adventure Trail
We've noticed a lot more people riding their bicycles since the health crisis began. We love seeing folks having two wheeled fun and wanted to offer some suggestions on new/different places to ride that maybe you didn't know about. Do you know where the Adventure Trail is at Sterchi Farm Park?

Community Events + Experiences
Daily Cavern Tours at The Caverns
The Caverns is best known for their underground concert experiences and the Emmy-winning PBS television series - Bluegrass Underground. The Caverns announced the grand opening of a new cave and daily guided tours starting July 4th. Guided cave tours will be offered daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central and cost $22.95 for adults, $12.95 for children 12 and under. With a 7 day advance booking, The Caverns will also offer adventure cave tours for $130 (includes t-shirt) to take guests deep inside The Caverns cave system. To be one of the first to experience the new attraction, visit their website to make a reservation!
Chattanooga Audubon Society Photo Contest
Calling all local photographers! The 1st Annual Chattanooga Audubon Society Photo Contest is in full effect and runs through July 31, 2020. All winners will be featured in the CAS’ 2021 wall calendar to be published in the late fall 2020. Prizes will be awarded to the winning entries. There is a $10 entry fee for up to 3 photos (unlimited entries). All photos must be taken within a 40-mile radius of Maclellan Island in downtown Chattanooga.

Adventure Makers
Adventure Makers is a new platform aimed at connecting local organizations working on projects that improve access to outdoor spaces with adventure makers who have the time, money and resources to give to the projects. Check out their new website and see what you can do help make adventures happen in our community!

Southeast Tennessee Tourism Launches New Travel Websites
The Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association recently launched two new websites promoting tourism in the  Sequatchie Valley  and  Tennessee’s South Cumberland . Each website highlights tourism assets, communities, events, historic sites and more. If you're looking for new outdoor adventures close to home, check out these new websites for inspiration and new ideas about cool things to do in the scenic Sequatchie Valley and the South Cumberland!
The Sequatchie Valley is one of Tennessee's most dramatic landscapes. Bordered by the South Cumberland Plateau and Walden's Ridge on each side, the valley offers a striking visual contrast of rocky bluffs and a rolling valley floor. The Sequatchie River winds 116 miles through the valley before emptying into the Tennessee River near the Alabama line. The river originates from a spring known as the Head of the Sequatchie, located at Cumberland Trail State Park. 

The valley is an incredibly well-preserved region, both in terms of natural landscape and historic character. The valley is the perfect place to cycle along quiet farm roads, enjoy “gentle thrills” on the Sequatchie River Blueway, eat local fare and fresh produce from area farms, or explore historic sites and museums.  
Tennessee’s South Cumberland dramatic landscape is home to the state’s largest park – South Cumberland State Park. Comprised of 31,000 acres of wilderness in nine parcels spread across the plateau, there are nearly 100 miles of backcountry trails, and camping, spectacular waterfalls, and scenic views.
The plateau is the perfect place to discover welcoming towns, delicious local food, live music, and plenty of outdoor adventure! We recommend e xploring the Mountain Goat Trail--a multi-modal rail trail that connects communities along the historic path of the Mountain Goat Railroad, and The Caverns--located in a timeless valley at the base of the plateau, offering daily cave tours and underground musical experiences along with the many miles of trails and waterfalls within S. Cumberland State Park.
Local Adventure Spotlight
Chattanooga's Coolest Blue Holes
The humid southern heat has officially arrived in Chattanooga, but with COVID forcing many local swimming pools to remain closed this summer, you're likely looking for alternatives to and beat the heat. Here's our list of natural blue holes and swim beaches to cool off in while also taking in some spectacular scenery. The Times Free Press and Visit Chattanooga recently released their own blue hole lists, which we've included, along with a few more family friendly swim beach areas which are great for small children. If you get out and give this local adventure a try, be sure to snap a photo and tag @outdoorchatt on instagram and Facebook to be featured in our feed. And just for fun: swim with sea lions
Free Swim Beach
Located 25 minutes from Chattanooga, Chester Frost County Park contains a power boat launch, boat docks and ramps, a swim beach, fishing piers, group picnic facilities, an indoor pavilion, and a developed campground for RV, tent, and group camping on the shores of Chickamauga Lake. The Park is operated by Hamilton County.

Chickamauga Day Use Area - Free Swim Beach
Chickamauga Dam was built in 1940 on the Tennessee River just north of Chattanooga. The reservoir is named after a tribe of Native Americans that broke away from the Cherokee Nation in the 1700s. They lived in villages along North Chickamauga Creek, which joins the river just below Chickamauga Dam. Before TVA created Chickamauga and other reservoirs above Chattanooga, the city had one of the most serious flooding problems in the nation. Now the river contributes to the city's economy as a major artery for barge traffic and outdoor recreation. The day use area at Chickamauga Dam includes a beach with a roped off swim area, a pavilion, numerous picnic tables with grills, a playground, 2 boat ramps and 2 restrooms. Take me there
Free - Creek with blue holes
**This site is popular on weekends and the current can be swift after heavy rains.**
The  Big Soddy Creek Gulf  is a wilderness area located 30 minutess north of Chattanooga. There are hiking trails, scenic views, natural habitats, rock formations, a waterfall, and swimming holes along Big Soddy Creek. An easy 1-mile hike takes you to the confluence of Board Camp Creek and Big Soddy, where a blue hole and open recreation area provide opportunities for swimming and picnicking. There are picnic tables and trash cans near the free parking area. There are no restroom facilities here and it's often overcrosded. Please practice Leave No Trace Principles.

$3 fee - River with natural blue holes
**Caution** this river is dam controlled and not safe for swimming all the time. Call the Ocoee Whitewater Center at 423-496-5197 to ask about the water level before going.** 1.5 hours from Chattanooga, the Upper Ocoee River offers a submerged paradise with a series of underwater tunnels, big enough to swim through, that make for an unforgettable snorkeling experience. Several blue holes are accessible right off the parking area, or hike a mile up an easy trail to find a more secluded spot to splash about.

Free - Natural River with shallow pools
For a unique experience, visit the crystal-clear waters of the Conasauga River within the Cherokee National Forest, just Southeast of Cleveland, TN. A section of the river known as the Snorkel Hole is a designated wildlife viewing area where you can observe the underwater activities of 76 identified species of fish by snorkeling in an area smaller than a football field. The experience is like swimming in an aquarium full of fish and is a great place for first time snorkelers to test the waters.

$4 Fee - River with swim area above the falls
Swimming and wading is allowed in the West Fork of Little River above DeSoto Falls in northeastern Alabama near Mentone. Located in DeSoto State Park, this beautiful waterfall is formed from the Little River by cascading about 107 feet into a large gorge. It is one of the most photographed points of interest in Alabama and most visited waterfall locations in the state. There are restroom facilities, picnic tables, grills and trash cans on site.

Free - deep pool at the base of the falls
Enjoy one of the most scenic and wild areas in Tennessee with a visit to the Foster Falls Small Wild Area. Located near Tracy City, 45 minutes from Chattanooga, this recreation area serves as a home base for exploring the south end of the Cumberland Plateau. An easy hike will take you to the top of Foster Falls. A short, but steep downhill hike takes you over a suspension bridge for a spectacular view of the 60-foot waterfall plunging into a deep pool. This area has a paved parking lot and restroom facilities. The hike out is strenous.
Free - deep pool at the base of the falls
Located in the Savage Gulf State Natural Area, about a 1.25 hours drive from Chattanooga is a post-card ready blue hole resting under the 50-foot Greeter Falls. Not only are the crystal waters stunning and perfect for cooling off in on a hot day, the large pool is also fairly easy to hike to. The quickest route takes you half a mile from the trailhead and down a memorable spiral staircase.
There is a picnic area and trash cans on site.

Little River Canyon National Preserve - Free - Natural River
**The Visitor Center and restrooms remain closed due to COVID. The roads, trails and preseve remain open. Please practice Leave No Trace Principles when visiting.**
Located in northeast Alabama, Little River Canyon is the deepest canyon in Alabama. The preserve contains the highest waterfall in the state and offers spectacular scenery and plenty of outdoor recreation activities along with a couple of swimming destinations. Martha’s Falls, also known as “ Hippie Hole ,” is a popular swimming area. The hike to the river is approximately a mile and is considered moderate to strenuous. If it gets too crowded, Lower Two-Mile is another little-known swimming area in Little River Canyon Nature Preserve. It requires about a 30-minute hike to the river and a steep climb back up, making it one for the more adventurous folks out there. Upon arrival, you are greeted with a huge, deep swimming hole, with a sandy beach and large rocks to sun on.
Middle Creek
Difficult Hike - Free swimming in creek
Middle Creek is home to an elusive natural water slide which requires explorers to trek roughly 3 miles up the creek bed through untamed land with no definitive trail. The few who successfully traverse the giant boulders and fallen trees are rewarded with a unique sliding experience and seclusion. There are several smaller pools along the way to play in if you can't make the full distance hike. Please note there is no designated parking area, no restroom facilities, and its an extremely difficult hike. If you think you can handle this adventure, do your own research to locate it, go prepared and as always, practice Leave no Trace etiquette.
North Chickamauga Creek
Free - blue holes along the creek
The North Chickamauga Creek Gorge, located just 15 miles from Chattanooga, contains the most popular blue hole near Chattanooga. It's so popular, that we don't recommend visiting on a hot summer weekend because it will be overcrowded and Rangers will turn vehicles away if the parking area reaches capacity. The Cumberland Trail follows the creek through the Gorge, then climbs on top of the plateau to provide awesome views. The trail then descends back down to the creek into a series of beautiful swimming holes. There are no restroom facilities on site. Please practice Leave No Trace Principles and pack out what you take in.
Ozone Falls
Free - deep pool at base of the falls
The aqua blue pool under this 110-foot waterfall is definitely worth the 1.5 hour drive from Chattanooga. The falls is an easy 1-mile hike from the parking area. Getting to the bottom of the waterfall may be easy, but the path is very steep and the top is without railing. Be careful! There are no restrooms on site, please practice Leave No Trace Principles.
Mac Point Beach Recreation Area - Swim Beach $3 parking fee
Created by Tennessee Rural Electric Company in 1910-11, Parksville Lake is the oldest lake in the Cherokee National Forest. Sometimes known as Lake Ocoee, this lake is controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Scenic views of the 1,930-acre lake are highlights along the Ocoee Scenic Byway. Mac Point Beach Recreation Area is located off US 64 and boasts a large paved parking lot, trash cans and restrooms. Please practice Leave no Trace Principles. Take me there
Rainbow Lake
Free - small swim area at the base of falls
Rainbow Lake is a Chattanooga favorite and often overcrowded on the weekends because it's only a 20 minute drive from downtown. A moderate, 1-mile hike to the small dam structure provides a calm pool to wade in. You'll also find a suspension bridge and cool rock formations. There is a small parking area and NO restrooms facilities. Please practive Leave No Trace Principles.

swim hole at base of falls - free
Sycamore Falls is located off the Fiery Gizzard trail within the Grundy Forest State Natural Area of the South Cumberland State Park. It's an hour's drive from Chattanooga and a 3-mile moderate hike to access the falls and blue hole. There are some smaller falls and blue holes to splash in that are closer to the parking ares, but the hard work to access Sycamore falls is worth the reward of seclusion. There are no restroom facilities on site. Please practice Leave No Trace Principles.

RULES OF THE POOLS (Courtesy Times Free Press)
While swimming holes can bring sweet relief from the sun’s rays, they aren’t without their risks. Within the last two years, two men have drowned at Blue Cove Hideaway, raising questions about the safety of the McMinn quarry, as well as the safety of unsupervised swimming holes. To ensure your summer stays fun and incident-free, here are a few guidelines to consider before taking the plunge.
DO check the weather.
Not just today’s, but yesterday’s, and the day before that. Heavy rainfall can cause pools to swell and currents to quicken for several days after a storm. That means your favorite swimming spot can be dangerous even on a calm, sunny afternoon.
DON’T swim alone.
For one, it’s not the way summer was meant to be enjoyed. But it’s also a surefire way to drown if there’s an emergency. No buddy means no rescuer if something goes wrong.
DO look before you leap.
Water levels are constantly changing. A lack of rain could mean jumping into a very shallow pool. Assuming that the entire water hole is uniform below the surface can also be hazardous. Some areas of the pool may not be as deep as others, and even if they are, the water may be blocking your view of underwater boulders or debris. Test the area you plan to land in before you take flight.
DON’T dive in headfirst.
Diving is an easy way to get a back or head injury that can lead to paralysis. Or worse.
DO swim sober.
Yes, we’re all adults here. But alcohol slows your reaction time and impairs your judgement, which is the last thing you want when swimming — especially since the Centers for Disease Control linked alcohol usage to 70 percent of all water recreation deaths.
DON’T stand or swim directly under a waterfall.
Rocks sometimes wash over the falls. Also, the pressure from a waterfall could trap a swimmer underwater.
DO mind your feet.
Chacos could save your life — or at least your feet from broken glass and sharp rocks.
Pro tip: If rocks are super-slippery, walk on all fours
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