'Five Star Trails: Chattanooga' details local hiking opportunities

'Five Star Trails: Chattanooga' details local hiking opportunities

December 12th, 2013 by Jim Tanner in Sports - Outdoors

Erin Ling looks out over the Tennessee River before hiking on the Cumberland Trail at Signal Point Park atop Signal Mountain in September.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

As climbing, paddling and other outdoor activities have grown more popular in the Chattanooga area, it's sometimes easy to forget that this area's hiking trails were one of the original outdoor attractions that brought visitors to Southeast Tennessee and helped residents appreciate the area's natural beauty.

Trails wind their way throughout the area, taking explorers to scenic overlooks, beautiful waterfalls and giving an up-close view of wildlife that can be easy to forget is so close to downtown.

Noted outdoor writer Johnny Molloy has catalogued 40 of the tri-state area's best trails for a recently released guide book "Five Star Trails: Chattanooga."

"Geographically speaking, Chattanooga couldn't be better situated for a variety of terrain and trails," Molloy said in a release from the book's publisher. "Urban and suburban hikes for scenery-hungry residents and visitors, with national, state, and local parks just a short drive away.

"All this adds up to a hiker's nirvana."

Molloy's book is the first guide book dedicated exclusively to hiking in the Chattanooga area, and it offers detailed directions and descriptions for local and visiting hikers looking for new adventures.

Molloy describes each hike in the book, adding nuggets of local history and explanations of the types of wildlife that may be seen on the trails throughout the area.

The guidebook includes trails in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. The types of trails offer a broad overlook for hiking of varying experience and fitness levels.

The book begins in Chattanooga with the Enterprise South Nature Park and the Riverwalk along the Tennessee River downtown. Other trails of note in the book include Sunset Rock Loop and hikes in the Chickamauga Battlefield, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain and Red Clay parks.

For each of the 40 trails in the book, there are detailed directions to trailheads along with GPS-based trail maps and elevation profiles, along with ratings for each route's scenery, difficulty, trail condition, solitude and accessibility for children.

"Five-Star Trails: Chattanooga" is published by Menasha Ridge Press, a publisher of several outdoor guides, and is available in stores and online.

Contact Jim Tanner at jtanner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6478.