- Stringers Ridge is a 92-acre park in North Chattanooga. All the paths are easy, well-marked, and accessible. I love taking my boys because it’s a simple outing with a quick escape if needed. There’s lots of parking (unlike trailheads en route to Lookout Mountain) and it gives the feel of being far from it all–but really being in the center of it all.
- When going to Greenway Farms I suggest looking at a map first. The first time I took my boys we went half a mile past the rock quarry–our sole mission for the day. But, if you know what you’re doing (and you will, unlike me), it is a pleasant, almost completely asphalt stroll to the quarry. The quarry was excavated by the Tennessee Valley Authority to help build the Chickamauga Dam. Now, it is a beautiful spot to sit, play in the dirt, and recover from walking a mile too far with two kids.
When you see a chain link fence down a gravel road to your right, take it! You’ve made it to the quarry.
Next time, we will take bikes.
- Moccasin Bend Browns Ferry Road is a wide, flat path (big enough for an off-road stroller) to the Tennessee River. It is just over a mile down and back. It’s a no-fuss outing with the tots.
- Shackleford Ridge behind Signal Mountain Middle High School has some great trails for young children and a pet. There’s a swinging bridge at the beginning, which helps get mine excited–and a covered bridge less than a mile in–anything to coax my children onward is a win!
- Rainbow Lake, also on Signal Mountain, is a nice trail with children (as long as you don’t do it after trying Shackleford or any other athletic adventure, like the Pumpkin Patch playground). Otherwise, you’ll be huffing up a steep hill with two children on your back. Once you make it to the 0.4 miles to Rainbow Lake sign it’s all downhill–literally. It is the perfect place to play on the rocks, have a snack, and gear up for the steep climb up the hill with your kids. #worthit.
- Behind the Pumpkin Patch playground on Signal Mountain there are trails for ultimate frisbee. My boys have more fun running behind the playground half the time than they do on the slides. This is a great place for both the playground and exploration.
- Guild Trail starts on Ochs, Hwy en route to Lookout Mountain. There is a big parking lot and crosswalk to get to the start. The path is wide and gravel. You can see the Incline Railroad from the trail—we haven’t made it—ever. It’s an easy enough path with the children and feels very safe but is too close to the St. Elmo playground for my crew to want to stick it out—c’est la vie.
My “Not So Much” Recommendations for a Mom Only Outing (and Multiple Kids):
- Moccasin Bend Blue Blaze Trail is a 1.5 loop about a minute down the road from Browns Ferry Road trail. I’ve seen it on several lists for kid-friendly hikes and yes, it is easy enough for tots, however, this is not one I like to go on alone with my children, nor would I recommend it. Call me a scaredy-cat but sometimes that place gives me the spooks.
- Glen Falls Trail on Lookout Mountain. Ok. This hike is pretty fabulous for the whole fam, but no way in heck would I take two children alone. The path starts easily—it’s wide and flat—with lots of rocks and roots for kids to jump over. It smells great in the spring with all the honeysuckle blooming but dang, when you get to the falls, I’m just glad each child had a parent to hold their hand. Again, I’m a scaredy-cat. The 3.5-year-old declared he loved hiking after doing this trail (not sure if that’s because of the view or in his words, the “interesting smell,” wafting down from the cliffs). Either way, it is definitely worth seeing—with mom and dad.
Please, let me know your favorite hikes! We would love to check them out!
We have a few picture books that we love to read that are about getting out and exploring.
Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail
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