Chattanooga has become a magnet for outdoors enthusiasts, with good reason. For one thing, it is within an hour's drive of more hiking trailheads than any other city in the world.
Check out the Cherokee National Forest east of the city, with connectors to the Appalachian Trail.
Try the Pinhoti Trail passing through the Dalton area.
Wander through Cloudland Canyon and DeSoto Falls state parks in extreme northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.
The Cumberland Trail continues to be developed west and north of the Scenic City, adding to a host of possibilities, including the multisite South Cumberland State Park.
With Signal and Lookout mountains, Raccoon Mountain and Stringer's Ridge providing high-level trails close to town, the area is loaded with spectacular walkways, and the many options range from strenuous to very easy.
Even in the valley of Hamilton County are the Tennessee Riverpark, Greenway Farm, Renaissance Park, the Brainerd Levee and Enterprise South's nature trails, among others. Some neighborhoods have their own walking paths.
But hiking is far from the only exercise pursuit available in and around Chattanooga. It long has been a center for all kinds of recreation, including indoor pursuits such as bowling, boxing, gymnastics and racquetball. And the assortment grows from year to year.
From archery to Zumba, with lawn mower racing in between, area residents and visitors can try many kinds of physical activity, some involving competition, some not.
Area YMCAs have a variety of recreational offerings for individuals and teams, for adults and children. Their numbers are as follows: Downtown branch 423-266-3766, North River 423-877-3517, Hamilton 423-899-1721, Henry 423-266-4844, North Georgia 706-858-0590.
The following list gives some specifics about where to go or whom to call for particular kinds of recreation.
Instruction, gear to buy and a practice range for adults and children are available at Choo-Choo Archery-Etc. at 4270 Bonny Oaks Drive, 423-622-6849.
Chattanooga Region, Sports Car Club of America (www.crscca.com), including teen driving schools. Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip, 706-891-9831. One-third-mile oval dirt tracks: Boyd's Speedway racing on Fridays, 706-891-6803 (www.boydsspeedway.net); Cleveland Speedway on Saturdays (www.clevelandspeedway.com); North Georgia Speedway at Chatsworth, 706-695-3313 (northgaspeedway.net).
Seniors play regularly on Wednesday mornings (10 a.m.-noon) and often on Saturdays at the Brainerd Recreation Center. Call Gene Blaes at 423-624-0501. Seniors play badminton and pickleball almost daily at the Frances B. Wyatt Center on Colville Street.
There are any community associations for youth play. Also, there is the Tennessee Valley NABA League (email email@example.com) as well as the recreational Tristate Baseball League (www.tsbl.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org) for adults. Both are wood bat leagues.
There are community youth leagues, including through Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department 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 Chattanooga Basketball Foundation (boys and girls ages 5-10, Book McCray at 423-227-7206) and Tennessee Xtreme girls (Juan Hansford, 423-635-0999, or www.tnxtreme.com).
Many area food and drink establishments offer billiards and darts competition. Among them, Chattanooga Billiard Club has three locations: downtown (423-267-7740), East Brainerd (423-499-3883) and Cleveland (423-790-7887). The Greater Chattanooga Darting Association (www.gcda.org or email email@example.com) 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), has a four-court indoor clubhouse almost finished on Dodds Avenue. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Westside Knockouts 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.
The Chattanooga Ultimate League has coed team play for ages 15-older 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., and most recently Camp Jordan Park in East Ridge.
Community youth leagues. Women's tackle football with the Chattanooga Locomotion (www.gochattanoogalocomotion.com, or call 423-580-6290) and Tennessee Train (call Denise Myers at 423-322-7730) and minor-league men's teams including the Chattanooga Steam (www.steamfootball.com) and Tennessee Crush (tennessee-crush.com). The Georgia Rampage, a member of the Ultimate Indoor Football League, has relocated from Rome to Dalton this season (www.georgiarampage.com). There are adult flag leagues through some area YMCAs and the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department (423-643-6055).
This is a 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 (thegetgc.freeforums.org/index.php).
Children and youth programs at Tennessee Academy of Gymnastics in Chattanooga (423-894-3910), Gymnastics Center of Chattanooga in Ooltewah (423-238-5258), 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 Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department is looking to form men's, women's and coed leagues for 2013. Call 423-643-6055.
Increasing opportunities in the area include Signal Mountain and Middle Valley (www.mvya.org) youth club organizations. McCallie School coach Troy Kemp (423-493-5630) is a resource for areawide participation.
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 667-4905.
Play and competition through area YMCAs and the Sports Barns (downtown 423-266-1125, Lee Highway 423-855-0091, Hamill Road 423-870-2582).
Chattanooga Roller Girls, founded in 2008 and accepted into the Women's Flat Track Derby Association in 2010, have four home bouts at the Chattanooga Convention Center in 2013: April 13, May 18, June 29 and Aug. 10. Skaters interested in joining the team should email Bully Von Beat'Em (Lynda Cope) at email@example.com. See chattanoogarollergirls.com for more information.
Instruction and competition through Lookout Rowing Club and Chattanooga Junior Rowing at the Chattanooga Rowing Center (423-622-6846).
The Chattanooga Rugby Club has a men's team and has had and would like to establish women's and youth teams. A new venue at Montague Park showcases the sport locally. 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). Rock/Creek Outfitters (www.rockcreek.com) sponsors an interesting series of trail races, ranging from 1 kilometer to 50 miles, including the nationally 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) or Leisure Time Dive & Ski Center (423-622-1335). The latter also offers snow ski instruction and equipment and diving and ski trips. 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.
Benton Sporting Clays in Polk County (423-338-6034); Carter Shooting Supply in Harrison (423-344-1099).
Area YMCAs and community associations for youth and some adult play, including Redoubt (423-899-4180), Camp Jordan Arena (423-490-0078), U.S. Elite Training (indoor leagues, 423-843-9511), Premier Soccer Academy (423-847-6565); Hispanic League, Sergio Ramos (423-362-0148). 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 (Adam Wilson, 423-903-2123), Veterans Park in Soddy-Daisy (Jimmy Pickett, 423-544-5368) and the Hixson Kiwanis League (Ron Fugatt, 423-842-9635, or Geoff Holden, 423-710-3933).
Lessons from the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department, YMCA, McCallie School and others. Chattanooga Parks outdoor pools at Warner Park (423-697-1330) and Carver Recreation 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., and a separate "fun league." 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.
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 parks department 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 Parks and Recreation Department at 423-697-1345.
The Chattanooga Triathlon Club conducts swimming-running-cycling events as well as training opportunities, including a mentor program. See www.chattanoogatriathlonclub.org for information. Scenic City Multisport (www.sceniccitymultisport.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 (email Paul Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Cleveland-based Ocoee Heat Volleyball Club (www.ocoeeheatvb.com) for multiple age groups. Tennessee Temple coach Latonia Allen (717-446-6856) runs weekly instruction/play sessions on Sundays. Call Warren Barger (423-875-9635) 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 areawide pull, the Chattanooga Wrestling Club (www.utckidswrestling.com). Contact Mike Hatcher at 423-303-0760.
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 the Chattanooga Parks and Recreation Department's Chattanooga Fitness Center and several city recreation centers.