Sunday Hikes: Prentice Cooper State Forest

The Prentice Cooper State Forest is 25,000 acres of land around the Tennessee River gorge about 10 miles west of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It has 35 miles of hiking trails and free camping.

Josh and I wanted to get in a solid hike in the area and chose to take the dirt road to the Snoopers Rock trailhead. From there we could check out “Snoopers Rock” and hike to Natural Bridge and back. This would be a 6 mile round trip distance.

We parked at the trailhead and followed a spur road for a 1/4 mile and discovered that we could have driven down and parked right there at Snoopers Rock. Snoopers Rock is a rock overhang with gorgeous views of the Tennessee River gorge.

There were quite a few folks at Snoopers Rock since it was so easily accessible. After soaking in the unearned view for a moment. We then followed the signs towards Natural Bridge.

This route was much less traveled. The trail followed the river from on high. There were many trees down across the trail which made it more fun rather than difficult. After a mile or so we reached somewhat of a hiking crossroads in the forest.

We followed the path to Natural Bridge of course, while making a mental note to come back and check out these other trails. The hiking thru this area felt like we were hundreds of miles from civilization as it was quiet and secluded. We passed several rickety wooden bridges and soon we arrived at Natural Bridge.

We hiked over the rock bridge and down under it and then back up the top. It was impressive and a lot of fun pretending to rock climb.

After playing around a bit we hurried back and made much better time on the return trip. This was a great hike and a lot of fun. I highly recommend the Prentice Cooper State Forest if you are visiting Chattanooga and want to get in some nature too. rk

Sunday Hikes: Rainbow Lake Trail

Located on Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee is a network of trails that take you to great overlooks but with much less traffic than you might find on Lookout Mountain. I️ went on a day trip to Chattanooga a couple weeks ago and the Rainbow Lake Trail was recommended to Erin and I️ by an employee at my favorite Chattanooga coffee shop, Velo. We arrived at the trailhead (which is right next to a golf course) and wandered down the trail. Not long into the trail we reached a wooden bridge built over a small spring with an old well next to it!

The trail continues downward into a valley where the trail crosses the creek via wobbly drawbridge! This is where the creek is dammed creating a very cool waterfall!

Once crossing the drawbridge the trail ascends steeply up the other side of the valley with rocky steps. There were a lot of trees fallen down here, presumably from the recent snow storm! After leveling out briefly past some tall cliffs, the trail continues upwards past and around a natural arch with a small waterfall flowing through!

From here the path levels out and continues on towards the overlook. We found a nice spot to sit on the cliff across from the old folks home on the other side of the valley.

We left from here with hopes of grabbing some more Velo coffee before they closed with a short detour down a side trail to a shelter for camping in!

The hike back went by quickly and we hurried to Velo, got some coffee and went up to lookout mountain for a peanut butter sandwich picnic dinner!

I️ didn’t know anything about this trail going in and it definitely exceeded any expectations I️ had! If you are in Chattanooga this hike is definitely a fun hike to do!

Thanks! – Josh

Sunday Hikes: Sunset Rock

Located on Lookout Mountain and part of the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is Sunset Rock. The hike to the rock is a grueling .25 mile hike down from the parking lot to the rock. Overlooking Moccasin Bend and west Chattanooga the rock offers a great place to watch (you guessed it) the sunset behind the river.

Last time I was there for sunset the entire river turned pink and purple (from the sun not from some massive pepto bismol spill or something).

Anyways this hike isn’t much of a hike but it does offer a great view and if you need a bit more hiking you can start at the Cravens House site and hike up the mountain from there.

Thanks! – Josh

Sunday Hikes: Cloudland Canyon State Park Waterfalls Trail

Cloudland Canyon State Park in northeast Georgia is a great place for a day trip or weekend camping trip from Atlanta or Chattanooga. The aptly named Waterfalls Trail takes you to the parks two largest waterfalls, Cherokee and Hemlock falls. The trail is only 2.1 miles round-trip but is also entirely a steep stairway descending into the canyon so going back up will wipe you out. About half a mile in you will reach the 60 foot Cherokee Falls. Cherokee drops into a large pool before turning back into the small Sitton’s Gulch Creek. 

A little over half a mile later you will reach Hemlock Falls. Hemlock is 30 feet taller than its upstream partner and splashes down onto the rocks below. Though Hemlock is more impressive it’s view is somewhat obstructed by a large tree and a giant boulder that can’t help but make you  question where such a large rock fell from.

 A lot of people try to get a better view by leaving the platform and getting closer to the Falls but you have to walk past multiple signs warning you to not leave the trail so you should probably not do this. The trail continues past Hemlock Falls and turns into the Sitton Gulch Trail but most people turn back up towards the canyon’s rim. The hike won’t take you more than an hour and gives you two beautiful waterfalls to enjoy as well as a bit of a workout on the way back up! Whether you live nearby or are traveling by I’d say that Cloudland Canyon is worth the visit for sure! 

Thanks! – Josh