Tennessee River Gorge Blueway (TN)
Length & Location:
The Tennessee River Blueway stretches nearly 50 miles from Chickamauga Dam past Chattanooga's revitalized riverfront and limestone bluffs, around historic Moccasin Bend, and through the protected river gorge. Paddlers will find river islands, forests, historic bridges, wildlife sanctuaries, and primitive camping options along the way.
Waterways: Tennessee River
Experience the natural solitude of the Tennessee River Gorge, or Chattanooga's bustling riverfront and historic bridges.
Pause to watch the great blue herons at Maclellan Island's wildlife sanctuary or the red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons as they soar the thermals above the Gorge. Paddle in the wake of ancient Americans and the Cherokee and Creek villagers who later settled the area. Journey along the modern waterway created by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s.
Enjoy this constantly evolving ancient pathway.
Points of Interest:
- City of Chattanooga: nationally recognized for its revitalization achievements, offers a stunning riverfront of public parks and plazas such as Ross's Landing, the 22-mile Tennessee Riverpark and 12-acre Coolidge Park. The Tennessee Aquarium has entertained millions of guests and is the world's largest freshwater aquarium. The Riverfront bustles with activity during seasonal events such as the 9-day June Riverbend Festival. Paddlers will enjoy the city's historic bridges including the restored 19th century pedestrian Walnut Street Bridge and the Chief John Ross (Market Street) Bridge.
- From Chattanooga, the Blueway dramatically winds around the historic Moccasin Bend and past Williams Island near Baylor School. Paddlers will travel past Suck Creek where river travelers of the past met the historic "Suck" -- a once treacherous rapid now inundated by the waters of Nickajack Dam.
- Tennessee River Gorge Trust Pot Point House, named for the most violent set of rapids in the Gorge -- "The Boiling Pot". This 1835 hand-hewed log cabin was restored by the Trust in 1993 and was originally built with recycled logs taken from a flat boat that wrecked at "The Pot".
- Nearby, Prentice Cooper State Park and TVA's Raccoon Mountain boats a pumped water storage facility for hydro-electric power generation. Atop the mountain is a man-made lake created by an impressive 230-foot-high, 8,500 foot-long dam. It is the largest rock-fill dam constructed by TVA. A Visitor's Center offers 20-minute tours of this engineering marvel.
- Paddlers can restock supplies at local landmarks such as Sullivan's Landing deep in the Gorge, or, further down, past Oates Island at Hales Bar Marina near historic Hales Bar Dam.
- Camping and picnic facilities area available at Marion County Park on Rankin Cove at the foot of Cedar Mountain.
- Shellmound Recreation Area, the host site of the annual Fall Color Cruise and Folk Festival, and Maple View Recreation Area on the south shore of the river are the last stops of the journey before reaching Nickajack Dam.
City of Chattanooga
Outdoor Chattanooga TN Blueway page
Map of Blueway (pdf file)
- For further information on the Tennessee River Blueway or to receive a brochure guide and map, contact the Tennessee River Gorge Trust office at (423) 266-0314.
- For information on area canoe and kayaking instruction or guided trips, contact the City of Chattanooga's OutVenture Outdoor Chattanooga Division at (423) 842-6629.
- For information on resource stewardship, call the TVA Chickamauga/Nickajack Watershed Team at (423) 697-6006.