Chattanooga's ability to host top-notch events like Ironman is well-documented, but the city's recreational offerings aren't just for elite, out-of-town athletes.
There is a seemingly infinite number of places to play within a short drive of downtown.
From the commercial adventure options like High Point Climbing and Fitness to backwoods adventuring in the Pocket Wilderness, there is no shortage of adventure recreation opportunities in the Scenic City for amateurs, weekend warriors and professionals alike.
"We don't want Chattanoogans to think of outdoor sports as people in expensive sunglasses and bikes who are highly trained," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said in 2015. "That's a portion of it, but only a portion of the outdoors. It should be something that all of us can experience, even if we're not experienced or highly trained athletes. That's important for the health of the city. When we expose more people to the opportunities, they can find their own passion."
' Outdoor Chattanooga: The city's outdoor recreation arm maintains a headquarters in Coolidge Park that offers residents and visitors information and programs to help them take advantage of the area's natural beauty.
' RootsRated: A local business that offers in-depth, online reviews of adventure recreation opportunities authored by reputable outdoor enthusiasts. The site covers outdoor offerings across the country, but it includes plenty of suggestions for what to do in and around its base city.
' Get Out Chattanooga: The monthly magazine highlights the best in the local outdoors scene. It is available for free around town. Check it out online for insight on the people and places that compose our town's outdoor identity.
The following list gives some specifics about where to go or whom to call for particular kinds of recreation.
Gear to buy, instruction and a practice range for adults and children are available at Choo-Choo Archery-Etc., 4270 Bonny Oaks Dr., 423-622-6849; at River City Archery, 1304 McCallie Ave., 423-551-3055; and at Archer's Choice Archery, 3889 Hixson Pike, 423-443-4138.
Chattanooga Region, Sports Car Club of America (www.crscca.com), including teen driving schools. Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip, 745 Scruggs Rd., 706-891-9831. One-third-mile oval dirt tracks: Boyd's Speedway racing on Saturdays, 1481 Scruggs Rd., 706-891-6803 (www.boydsspeedway.net), as well as North Georgia Speedway at 300 N. Georgia Raceway Rd., Chatsworth, 706-695-3313 (northgaspeedway.net), and Friday nights at Cleveland Speedway, 2420 S. Lee Hwy., 423-479-8574.
Seniors play badminton and pickleball regularly at the Frances B. Wyatt Youth & Family Development center on Colville Street (423-757-5443 or Kelly Price at 423-240-1508), and some days each week at Red Bank Baptist Church. Seniors also play regularly on Wednesday mornings (10 a.m. to noon) at the Brainerd YFD center.
There are many community associations for youth play. Also, there is the U.S. Adult Recreational Baseball League (email email@example.com), which was aiming for about 20 area teams this year.
There are community youth leagues, including offerings through Chattanooga Youth and Family Development centers and Upward programs in some churches, plus adult leagues through some recreation centers and area YMCAs. AAU/YBOA programs for girls and boys throughout the area, including the Tennessee Xtreme girls (Juan Hansford, 423-635-0999, or www.tnxtreme.com), Chattanooga Grizzliez (ages 7-17, Daniel Wright, 423-760-1873, or www.chattgrizz.org), Tennessee Rising Stars (Al Cantrell, 423-320-0451), Tennessee Tornadoes (Dan Ripper, 423-991-7477) and Chattanooga Elite (boys grades 4-11, chattanoogabasketball.weebly.com).
Many area food and drink establishments offer billiards and darts competition. Among them, Chattanooga Billiard Club has three locations in and around Chattanooga: downtown (423-267-7740), East Brainerd (423-499-3883) and Cleveland (423-790-7887). The Greater Chattanooga Darting Association (www.gcda.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org) has league play throughout the area and hosts a big annual fall tournament, the Choo Choo Classic, benefiting Special Olympics.
The ancient Italian cousin to lawn bowling can be played at Heritage Park in East Brainerd and at several private courts in the area. Dr. Frank Knight, chairman of the Chattanooga Bocce Club (www.chattabocce.org), is developing a four-court indoor clubhouse on Dodds Avenue. Contact him at email@example.com or 423-886-4179.
There are leagues for every level from novice to elite and from children to seniors, as well as nonleague bowling. Area centers include Holiday Bowl Brainerd (423-899-2695), Holiday Bowl Hixson (423-843-2695), Leisure Time Bowling in Cleveland (423-728-2988) and Valley Entertainment Center in Dunlap (423-949-4089), which also offers roller skating. Pin Strikes (423-710-3530) at Lee Highway and Highway 153 provides laser tag as well as bowling.
Amateur youth clubs include Red Bank Boxing (Skipper Fairbanks, 423-877-4113) and the Y-CAP program based on Central Avenue (Andy Smith, 423-847-7682). Joe Smith (423-400-8472) has been a USA Boxing regional representative and national vice president and was team manager for the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxers.
In addition to a number of well-known outdoor rock climbing spots, the Chattanooga area has a group of centers that provide indoor climbing and classes. In the city itself are High Point Climbing and Fitness' two locations, downtown on Broad Street (423-602-7625) and Riverside on Appling Street off Amnicola Highway (423-475-6578); in addition to Tennessee Bouldering Authority in St. Elmo, (423-822-6800). All three hosted meets in a new interscholastic league this year. The Adventure Guild, 423-266-5709, teaches outdoor climbing in a variety of instruction formats.
The Chattanooga Ultimate League has coed team play for ages 15-plus at Camp Jordan Park. See www.nakedpretzel.com or playultimate.net for details. Disc golf courses in the area include The Sinks off Access Road in Hixson, Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, the Jack Mattox complex in Catoosa County, Cloudland Canyon State Park near Trenton, Ga., Camp Jordan Park in East Ridge, the Portland Park at the corner of Signal Mountain and Suck Creek roads, 9 on Top at 1836 Taft Highway behind the Pumpkin Patch on Signal Mountain and the Johnston Woods Retreat in McDonald.
Community youth leagues. Women's tackle football with the Tennessee Train (see tntrain.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Starlisa Horton at 423-320-4882), playing home games at Hixson High School and Chattanooga Soul (email email@example.com) playing at Red Bank High School, and minor-league men's teams including the Tennessee Crush (www.tennesseecrush.com). The Georgia Rampage, a member of the indoor X League, is based in Dalton. There are adult flag leagues through some area YMCAs, the Chattanooga Youth & Family Development department (423-643-6055) and the Chattanooga Sports Complex on Dayton Boulevard (chattsports.com or 423-843-9511).
This relatively new activity involves following directions with GPS receivers to find hidden containers. Check out the Geocachers of Southeast Tennessee (geoset.proboards.com) or the Greater East Tennessee Geocaching Club.
Children and youth programs at Tennessee Academy of Gymnastics in Chattanooga (423-697-1824), Gymnastics Center of Chattanooga in Ooltewah (423-238-5258), Gymnastics Center of Chattanooga in Hixson (423-877-5433), American Elite Gymnastics in Catoosa County (706-861-4500), Jill's Gymnastics on Hunt Drive off Mack Smith Road (706-891-2770) and Garner's Gymnastics in Hixson (423-842-5407).
The Lookout Mountain Flight Park at Rising Fawn, Ga., above Trenton, provides tandem flights and instruction, including multiday packages. See www.hanglide.com or call 706-398-9546.
The Chattanooga Youth & Family Development Department (423-643-6055) and the Catoosa County Recreation Department (706-891-4199) are among area possibilities for men's, women's and/or coed leagues.
Increasing opportunities in the area include Signal Mountain (www.signalmtnlax.com) and Middle Valley (www.mvya.org) youth club organizations. McCallie School coach Troy Kemp (423-493-5630) is a resource for area wide participation.
Lawn mower racing
Held at several venues in the area, including Cleveland and Jasper, but mostly centered at the Savannah Valley Speedway in the Meadowview community on North Highway 58. Call Buster Hogan at 423-667-4905 or contact the Scenic City Lawnmower Racing Association at 423-344-2099.
Play and competition through area YMCAs and the Sports Barns (downtown 423-266-1125, Lee Highway 423-855-0091, Hamill Road 423-870-2582).
Instruction and competition through Lookout Rowing Club and Chattanooga Junior Rowing at the William G. Raoul Rowing Center (423-622-6846).
The Chattanooga Rugby Club has men's teams and a youth program. The new venue at Montague Park showcases the sport locally, including college club teams. See www.noogarugby.com for contacts and event information.
Chattanooga Track Club (www.chattanoogatrackclub.org) sponsors and helps with a variety of road and trail races from 5-kilometer to ultra-marathon distance, plus triathlons. One of the annual highlights is the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon in early November in the nation's oldest military park. In downtown Chattanooga, the 7 Bridges Marathon in October is run by Scenic City Multisport (www.sceniccitymultisport.com). Wild Trails sponsors a series of trail races, ranging to 100 miles, and Rock/Creek Outfitters runs the internationally renowned StumpJump 50k in early October. The Chattanooga Jets are a successful youth track and field club.
Choo Choo Diving & Aquatic Center (423-899-1008) offers instruction on scuba and trips throughout the year. Dodge City Ski Shop at 7968 East Brainerd Road (423-892-6767) has a virtual ski machine that provides skiing and snowboarding simulation for practice. Cloudmont Ski Resort (256-634-4344) in Mentone, Ala., is able to provide skiing on 1,000-foot beginner-intermediate slopes when the weather gets below 28 degrees at night.
Benton Sporting Clays in Polk County (423-338-6034); Carter Shooting Supply in Harrison (423-344-1099); Shooter's Depot on Shallowford Road (423-305-0747); Montlake Classic Clays in Soddy-Daisy (423-332-1195) and, for rifles and handguns only, the TWRA's Prentice Cooper firing range (call Clint Smith at 423-658-9201).
Area YMCAs and community associations for youth and some adult play, including Redoubt (423-899-4180), Camp Jordan Arena (423-490-0078), the Chattanooga Sports Complex (indoor leagues, chattsports.com or & 423-843-9511), Premier Soccer Academy (423-847-6565); Hispanic League, Sergio Ramos (423-362-0148); and open training, 3-v-3 play & clinics from Elite Soccer Training (email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-240-5737). The Chattanooga Football Club (chattanoogafc.com) offers high-level men's play in the National Premier Soccer League.
Community associations for girls' coach-pitch and fastpitch play, plus organizations throughout the area for adult slowpitch leagues. Included are leagues at the Summit of Softball (Richard West, 423-643-6055 or 423-595-4540), the Jack Mattox complex in Catoosa County (706-891-4199) and Veterans Park in Soddy-Daisy (Jimmy Pickett, 423-544-5368) and the Hixson Kiwanis church league (Ron Fugatt at 423-842-9635, or at email@example.com).
Equipment can be rented at L2 Boards in downtown Chattanooga, 423-531-7873, River Canyon Adventures at the foot of Signal Mountain, 423-488-1345 for weekday rentals before May 7, and 423-987-1711 for weekend rentals and after May 7 (which also offers river gorge cruises by kayaks, canoes or pontoon boats), and SUP Rentals on the lake in Hixson, 423-421-1403 or Michael@SUPpaddleboard.com.
Lessons from the Chattanooga Youth & Family Development department, YMCA, McCallie School and others. Chattanooga City Pool at (423-697-1330) Chattanooga Parks outdoor pools at Warner Park (423-698-4857) and Carver YRD center (423-622-7665); indoor pools at Brainerd (423-425-3600) and South Chattanooga (423-425-3550) centers. Chattanooga Area Swim League summer competition in communities from Cleveland, Tenn., to Calhoun, Ga. Year-round youth training through the Baylor Swim Club (423-267-8506, ext. 267), the McCallie/GPS Aquatic Club (John Woods, 423-634-7606) and the city of Chattanooga (Peggy Grall, 423-697-1385). River Rats masters competition for adults (Stan Corcoran, 423-493-5536). For the Baylor Diving Club, which has a competitive springboard team for youth and adults, call John Bonds at 423-267-8506, ext. 654.
The Chattanooga Skydiving Co. at 330 Airport Road in Jasper offers group lessons, one-on-one training and tandem jumping using U.S. Parachute Association methods. Call 855-776-5867.
Instruction and competition through the Chattanooga Tennis Association (423-843-2456), Champions Club (423-870-3112), Manker Patten Tennis Club (423-266-6767), Racquet Club in Hixson (423-842-9622) and Fairyland Club on Lookout Mountain (706-820-0766). Play available on city courts, including Warner Park as the home for the Chattanooga Racqueteers adult competition team; the Racqueteers (Herb Barnett, 423-991-2855) also provide training for kids as well as adults.
Includes wheelchair basketball, power soccer, CHIPS golf, wheelchair tennis, adaptive cycling, kayaking, rowing and water ski opportunities. Call Elaine Adams with the Chattanooga Youth & Family Development department at 423-697-1345.
The Jump Park center at 1810 Chestnut St. near Finley Stadium, 423-531-8688; Superfly Trampoline Park at 7455 Commons Blvd. near Hamilton Place mall, 423-825-9320 (closed Sundays).
The Chattanooga Triathlon Club conducts swimming-running-cycling events as well as training opportunities, including a mentor program. See www.chatttri.com for information. Scenic City Multisport (www.sceniccitymultisportllc.com) also runs triathlons as well as other events, and the Sports Barn (423-266-1125) is another triathlon training resource. The Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon in mid-July is a huge event run by the Chattanooga Track Club in conjunction with Team Magic of Birmingham, Ala.
Adult leagues, including coed, through Chattanooga recreation centers and some area YMCAs. Junior Olympic girls programs throughout the area, most notably the Choo-Choo City Volleyball Club organization (www.choochoocityvbc.com) and the Cleveland-based Ocoee Heat Volleyball Club (firstname.lastname@example.org) for multiple age groups. Call Ed Elam (423-875-5131) about seniors play.
Lake Chickamauga and other area waterways provide plenty of opportunities for recreational skiers, and No Wave Wake in Fort Oglethorpe is a proven practice venue for national and international standouts in the sport.
Beyond a variety of area fitness centers, health clubs, YMCAs and other options that include weights and weight machines, Steve Fauer with Tennessee Speed & Strength (423-870-4060) works with teens for competition.
There are several kids clubs in the area, particularly in communities with strong high school programs. UTC has one with an area wide pull, the Chattanooga Wrestling Club. Contact Mike Hatcher at 423-303-0760. The Chattanooga Takedown Club promotes and teaches amateur wrestling at all levels (www.chattanoogatakedownclub.com).
Privateer Yacht Club, established on Lake Chickamauga in 1940, sponsors local, regional and national levels of competition and conducts instructional camps for youth. Call 423-877-9411.
Classes are offered at fitness facilities throughout the area, including several Chattanooga Youth & Family Development centers.