By Kathy Gilbert
Even in the heat, there are cool places to walk in Chattanooga.
“I walked from Cravens House to Sunset Rock (on Lookout Mountain) two weeks ago,” said Jeffrey Hunter, Southeast trail programs director for the American Hiking Society. “It was delightful.”
Within 10 minutes of Chattanooga, there are several easy, beginner walks. Many can be expanded into more challenging adventures, as well.
An hour walk two to three times a week lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, burns calories and keeps weight down, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Summer walking requires extra precautions, the Council advises. You can lower body temperature with hats, neck-coolers and breathable clothing.
Some advice from experts: Drink lots of water. Walk at a comfortable but challenging pace. Breathe deeply. If you can’t catch your breath, slow down or avoid hills. And, if you can’t converse, you are walking too fast, the Council on Exercise advises.
One of the best starter trails for beginning walkers is the Guild/Hardy Trail on Lookout Mountain, said Mary Anne Williams, development and outreach director for the Lookout Mountain Land Trust.
An easy 5-mile trip, the former “truck” trail, “meanders” up the mountain from St. Elmo to the top of the mountain. It’s wide paths are shaded by tall trees, she added.
“Even on a 92-degree day it’s not unbearably hot,” Ms. Williams said.
Another favorite stepping-off point on Lookout Mountain is Reflection Riding Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Mr. Hunter said.
Located on the west side of Lookout Mountain, there are 12 miles of nearly level trails and scenic views, said Margaret Frederick, Reflection Riding business manager. Most trails connect to extensive National Park Service trails around the mountain.
While the Riding offers country charm, Ms. Frederick also recommended adventuring into downtown Chattanooga’s.
“Walking the bridges” —; across Walnut Street, Market Street or Veteran’s Bridges —; is a popular activity with her and her friends, she said. Begin at Coolidge Park, she said, cross the Walnut Street Bridge, then come down First Street along the Riverfront.
Boost the challenge on the stairs walking up and down the stairs below the Walnut Street Bridge, or going through the “passage” (alongside the Tennessee Aquarium’s Ocean Journey building) or trek up and down the ramps to the floating docks.
Frequently, she stops along the way at coffee bars, restaurants or ice cream shops. Walking works off the calories, she said. And watching the crowds is fun.
“The riverfront area is a great place to walk now,” Ms. Frederick said.
E-mail Kathy Gilbert at email@example.com
FOR WALKING INFORMATION ON THE WEB
* BlueCross/BlueShield of Tennessee’s Walking Works resources
Includes Chattanooga trails list, links to walking sites.
* Active.com’s Walking page
Lists local walking and easy running events.
* Chattanooga Hiking Club
* Hiking trails on Signal Mountain, mapped by Mike Whittle, since retired from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
* American Hiking Trail Finder. Free trial for non-members.
Type in your zip code and go.
THE TEN WALKING/HIKING ESSENTIALS
1. Map and compass (and know how to use them)
2. Water (including filter or purification tablets)
3. Emergency food
4. First aid kit (including personal medication)
5. Flashlight and/or headlamp (including spare bulb and batteries)
6. Necessary clothing (rain/wind protection, extra shoe laces)
7. Pocket knife or multi-purpose tool
8. Pencil and paper
9. Large plastic trash bag (33-gallon) or emergency “space” blanket (to serve as emergency rain protection, emergency shelter)
10. Signaling device (whistle)