Water always has played a key role in our area. In addition to being a source for travel, industry and sustenance, waterways provide plenty of opportunities for fun.
Whether you prefer a boat, canoe, kayak or standup paddleboard, recreational opportunities are there in abundance.
Ruth Thompson, events and marketing coordinator with Outdoor Chattanooga, an agency whose mission it is to promote, maintain and enhance the recreational resources in the area, said there are many places to launch a boat.
"As far as canoes or kayaks, we don't recommend putting in on the river downtown because the current is so strong," she said. "It can be done, and it is a great experience, but you better know what you are doing.
"We recommend utilizing the creeks."
Here is a short list of places Thompson recommends to Outdoor Chattanooga visitors looking for places to canoe, boat, kayak or standup paddle.
For detailed maps and more information on these spots, visit www.outdoorchattanooga.com.
1. South Chickamauga Creek: Locals call it the South Chick. Located in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, the creek flows unencumbered for several miles down to the Tennessee River.
• Launch: Sterchi Farm Park on Old Harrison Pike.
• Directions: From Highway 153 north, exit Amnicola Highway east toward downtown Chattanooga. Take the next left onto Access Road and then the first left onto Old Harrison Pike. When Old Harrison Pike takes a left over South Chickamauga Creek, enter the Sterchi Farm and park to your left.
2. North Chickamauga Creek: North Chick meanders through quiet neighborhoods around Hixson and Big Ridge. Launch at Greenway Farm for an easy, quiet family kayak or canoe trip.
• Launch: Greenway Farm, 5051 Gann Store Road.
• Directions: From Highway 153 North, cross over Chickamauga Dam and then turn right on Hamill Road. The Greenway Farm entrance is on the right immediately after the road crosses the creek.
3. Lookout Creek: The Chattanooga Nature Center rents canoes to explore Lookout Creek from its facility at the base of Lookout Mountain. The handicap-accessible boat launch makes it easy for everyone to explore.
• Launch: Chattanooga Nature Center.
• Directions: From I-24 W., exit south on U.S. 41/Cummings Highway. Turn right on Old Wauhatchie Pike then right again on Garden Road to the Nature Center. Fees apply.
4. Tennessee River in downtown: There is no better way to appreciate the unique scenery of downtown Chattanooga than from the water. Maclellan Island, the museum bluffs and Ross's Landing offer lots of picture-taking opportunities. Be sure and check the stream flow at www.tva.com/river/lakeinfo before you launch. Currents below Chickamauga Dam can be strong and variable.
• Launch: Coolidge Park under the Market Street Bridge on Chattanooga's North Shore.
• Directions: From U.S. Highway 27 North, exit right at Manufacturer's Road. Turn right into Renaissance Park and take an immediate left through the parking lot and onto River Street. The boat launch is where River Street crosses beneath the Market Street Bridge.
5. Wolftever Creek and Harrison Bay State Park: The islands in Harrison Bay provide quiet refuge for wildlife and great fishing. Pack a lunch for a picnic on John A. Patten Island or paddle up Wolftever Creek through the quiet neighborhoods of Harrison.
• Launch: Wolftever Creek on Highway 58 North.
• Directions: From Highway 153, exit north on Highway 58 to Harrison Bay State Park. The Wolftever Creek boat launch will be on the right immediately after the road crosses the creek.
6. Nickajack Lake: From the relic Hales Bar Dam to the Nickajack Bat Cave, Nicka-jack Lake offers boaters of all types spectacular scenery and lots of places to explore.
• Launch: TVA Shellmount Recreation Area (north) or Maple View Recreation Area (south).
• Directions: From I-24 West, exit left on Highway 156 (exit 161) to access the Maple View Recreation Area or left on U.S. 27/TVA Road (exit 158) to access the Shellmount Recreation Area.