Adventure Activities in Chattanooga - Try if You Dare

Adventure Activity Chattanooga

Getty Images

Chattanooga, Tenn. is arguably the adventure capital of the Southeast. This former rail town has repositioned itself as the place to be for outdoor adventure seekers. Nestled between the urban centers of Atlanta and Nashville, this adventure mecca has a little something for those searching for a natural high.

Chattanooga is surrounded by the lower Appalachian Mountains, and the area is split apart by many of the raging rivers that drain those peaks. Trails, whitewater, and aerial adventures abound in this southern playground.

Here are my picks for the best adventure activity in Chattanooga – try one if you dare.

Raft the Ocoee

Rafting the Ocoee River is a rite of passage for any thrill seeker visiting southern Tennessee. Flowing through the scenic Cherokee National Forest, this class IV river will get your heart pumping and leave you wanting more when the raft pulls ashore. The upper Ocoee features sports class III and IV rapids and includes the stretch of river that became famous when it was used as the 1996 Olympic whitewater course. Combining the upper and middle sections will give whitewater fans a full day of paddling and magnificent views of the gorge. Cherokee Rafting (869 Highway 64, Ocoee, TN; 800-451-RAFT) runs trips from April to August and charges between $28 and $45.

Soar Over Lookout Mountain

For many adrenaline junkies, hang gliding is on the list of the best adventure activities in Chattanooga. Reaching 2,000 feet on a tandem, hang glider can be a breathtaking experience, both from the sheer altitude and from the fantastic views of Lookout Mountain and the foothills of the Smokies.

Going tandem allows a first-timer to enjoy the thrill of this adventure with an experienced instructor. A lightweight aircraft tows the glider up to the cruising altitude and releases it. Then, you and your guide are on your own, flying much as the bald eagles do in this region. Slipping through the warm updrafts and breezes, you'll glide back down slowly on this 12-20 minute flight. Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding (7210 Scenic Highway, Rising Fawn, GA; 800-688-5637) charges $149 for the trip, and you can even get photographs to preserve the memory of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Go Rock Climbing

Chattanooga offers some of the best climbing in the area. The southern Tennessee and northern Georgia regions have a wealth of sandstone and solid rock that climbers have been scaling for years. These natural wonders provide a naturally good gripping surface for those eager to try one of the many outdoor activities in Chattanooga. Autumn is the best time to enjoy this adventure activity in Chattanooga, as the leaves begin to change color and the southern humidity drops to bearable levels. The Adventure Guild (3413 Hixson Pike, Chattanooga, TN; 423-266-5709) offers guided climbs for as little as $55 when booking a group. The business is certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, and that should take some of the edge off for those new to the sport.

Capture the Flag with Some Paintball Action

Can you fire off 500 rounds of paint balls in three hours? That's how many shots you get as part of your paintball package at Outdoor Adventure Rafting (9 Welcome Valley Road, Benton, TN; 800-627-7636). The course is located in a place called the Hidden Forest and, as the name implies, there are plenty of places to hide here. The course is a relatively recent addition to the OAR complex, which means you get to use new equipment and masks that are somewhat scuff-free. The Capture the Flag game pits teams against one another and forces players to strategize against the opponent to discover where they've tucked away their flag. The Last Man Standing game may just get you hooked on this stress-relieving sport as you take out everyone in your sights. Be sure to wear old clothing, as these paintballs can stain. Tickets for paintball are $30 per person but can be purchased for a discount when buying 10 or more.

Challenge Yourself in the Stump Jump 50k

If it's competition you crave, look no further than the Rock Creek Stump Jump 50k (888-707-6708). Every fall, extreme trail runners flock to Chattanooga to take on the rocky trails that meander through the backcountry of southern Tennessee. Battling cramps, foot pain, and hypothermia are only a few of the challenges that await those who attempt the Stump Jump. Zooming through 31+ miles of southern hardwood forests and enduring 5,000 feet of elevation gain/loss will push even experienced runners to the edge. The reward lies in knowing you've completed one of the premiere long runs in the South. Proceeds from the race benefit Wild Trails, which promotes the use and expansion of trails near Chattanooga.
Read Full Story