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South Chickamauga Creek in Tennessee

Trip Overview

This was a 5 1/2 hour day trip that included paddling downstream and upstream, about 8 miles one way. The time for the downstream leg was about 2 hours, to reach the Tennessee River. It is suitable for beginners and families in either a canoe or touring kayak. I used a touring kayak. The trip is probably best planned going downstream, although I paddled down and upstream.

The beginning section of the creek includes lazily moving shallow pools with an occasional swift, but not fast, shoal in shallow areas. As the creek nears the Tennesee River the creek deepens. On the return trip I had to get out and pull the kayak behind me through these shallows. It was a hot day so I didn't mind!

The creek winds through farmland, skirts residential areas, and travels past an occasional industrial complex but they are mainly hidden by trees. There are newer homes with docks as one nears the Tennessee River.

There was an abundance of wildlife that can be seen along the trip for the quiet paddler. There were more blue herons than I cared to count, several hawks, beaver, and muskrat. If you float and fish, or get out and fish, there are several places that looked promising where small side creeks join the main creek and in the deeper pools. There were large carp, garr, and small mouth bass seen. I have usually fished for catfish but am considering going back for the bass or the bream and catfish that I know are there.

On the upper end trees overhang the creek but as it widens it gets quite sunny.

You will pass an occasional fisherman along the banks. Next time I will take a camera, maybe my fishing rod, and maybe binoculars for the birds.

If you plan a one day paddle and have someone to pick you up, the trip could end at the Chattanooga/Hamilton County River Park boat ramp. There is a snack bar in the park as well as a playground, and tall fishing piers that reach out into the Tennessee River. The Riverpark and greenway is accessed off of Amnicola Hwy. The greenway is another attraction that a family could spend a day at. It links the Chickamauga Dam parking area to the riverfront area of downtown Chattanooga. That's a great walking or biking trail.


No accommodations or facilities unless the paddler ends the trip at the Tennessee River Park, north of the creek's entrance into the Tennessee River.




Shallowford Road is a long east/west road that links I-75, and State Route (Hwy) 153 to other destinations to the west. Traveling west on Shallowford Road, the driver will pass Airport Road on the left. The next bridge is over Chickamauga Creek. Watch for an unpaved path on the right immediately past the bridge.

Traveling east on Shallowford Road, you will pass North Moore Road on the right, the Brainerd Levee on the right, and a golf driving range on the left. As you approach the bridge look for a pull off point just before the bridge.

The car can be parked on the side of the road in the grass or further down on this path. This path is private property but for now public access remains. Unfortunately others occasionally use this as a place to dump construction debris.


The creek and the roads can be viewed on-line on the City of Chattanooga website using the Geographic Information System (GIS). A print out can be obtained from this website.

People at Chattanoga Outdoors were very helpful and will be glad to talk to anyone. Their links are from the City of Chattanooga Website also:

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip