In Chattanooga, the Tennessee River beckons to flatwater paddlers with its accessibility and urban charm. But for those looking to explore off the beaten path, so to speak, a network of smaller streams surround the city, replete with emerald waters, mini gorges and now more navigable miles than ever.
After eight years and 1,900 volunteer hours, for the first time, the North, South and West Chickamauga creeks are now cleared of all obstructions for the entire length of each with enough water to paddle. The narrowness of the creeks plus their forested embankments make them susceptible to river-wide log jams.
The cleanup involved everything from litter removal to chainsaw work and was largely organized by Eric Fleming, Chattanooga paddler and 28-year member of the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club.
"A huge shoutout and thank you to everyone who has helped over the past eight years," Fleming recently told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.