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5 Awesome Places for Outdoor Exercise in South Central Tennessee

5 Awesome Places for Outdoor Exercise in South Central Tennessee


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 07/17/2019 16:50:24
Trip Date 04/18/2019  

Destinations | Camping | Tennessee | Chattanooga | Lynchburg | Tullahoma | Hiking in Tullahoma | Hiking in Chattanooga | Walking in Chattanooga | Waterfall Hikes in Tennessee | Rutledge Falls | Machine Falls | Walnut Street Bridge | Chattanooga Riverwalk | Point Park | Bea's Restaurant



After leaving northern Mississippi, we headed to south central Tennessee for the next couple of nights on our 6+ week RV trip. In addition to touring the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, we made stops to get some fresh air and exercise while hiking in Tullahoma and Chattanooga. We even did last minute online research to find Bea's Restaurant where we enjoyed one of our dinners.

If you are in search of ideas that will help you get some exercise, while also seeing some of the sights in south central Tennessee, you're in the right place. A stay at Tims Ford State Park has many hiking options. If you want to get out and about, we've found five awesome places where you can see the sights while getting some healthy exercise.

For history lovers, a visit to Point Park combines options for hiking in Chattanooga with a visit to the first national military park in the United States. If true hiking and nature are your goals, check out Rutledge Falls or Machine Falls for two great waterfall hikes in Tennessee. Those traveling with children will find playgrounds at both Rock Creek Greenway and the Chattanooga Riverwalk.

Prefer a city stroll? Walking in Chattanooga may be just the thing to satisfy a craving for shopping, dining, sporting events or even some culture, and the riverwalk is fully paved and ADA accessible. You can even cross the Walnut Street Bridge on foot to go between the north and south shores of the Tennessee River for more options.



1. Rock Creek Greenway in Frazier McEwen Park

There is a park in the city of Tullahoma with, among other amenities, a children's space themed playground and a walking path. Frazier McEwen Park is just 20 minutes away from Lynchburg.


Frazier McEwen Park

Frazier McEwen Park

Located on Big Springs Avenue just off of Wilson Avenue, the well shaded walking path is known as Rock Creek Greenway. As you stroll along the nicely paved wide path you'll cross over some bridges and you'll even find park benches in case you need a break.



2. Rutledge Falls

Not quite as easy to find, but worth the effort, is a short hike to the beautiful Rutledge Falls. The waterfall, also located in Tullahoma, is on private property. The extremely generous owners allow all to see this piece of paradise daily between dawn and dusk. While they don't charge an admission fee (and assume no liability), they do require everyone to follow a few posted common sense rules. The basics include not straying off the path, leaving flora and fauna alone and leaving no trace from your visit.

Limited roadside parking is available on Rutledge Falls Road across the street from Rutledge Falls Baptist Church. When you see the "Rutledge Falls Barn", you'll know that you have found the right place. Once parked, find the "welcome" sign and the worn path that will lead you toward the falls.


Rutledge Falls Barn

Rutledge Falls Barn

As you follow the path, be on the lookout for the always present "Lady of the Falls" statue.


The Lady of the Falls

The Lady of the Falls

The weather was still cool during our mid-April visit, so we did not hike down to the base of the falls. The view from above was great, so I can only imagine how beautiful it is from the swimming hole below.


Rutledge Falls

Rutledge Falls

If the temperatures are high, I'm sure that a swim in the water would help cool you down while giving you two forms of exercise to check off!



3. Short Springs State Natural Area

Managed by local, state and federal agencies, there are a total of six hiking trails in the Short Springs State Natural Area. Parking in the small lot sharing space with a water tower near the intersection of Short Springs and Powell Roads is actually easier to find than the hiking trails! Once we realized that the trailheads are located across Short Springs Road from the parking lot, we were ready to go.

We hiked the almost 1.5 mile long Machine Falls Loop Trail which gave us a nice variety of scenery. The path is mostly easy to follow, signage along the trail is fairly good and select trees are blazed with white.


Beginning our Hike to Machine Falls

Beginning our Hike to Machine Falls

There was a noticeable change in elevation as we hiked to the falls which took us past some downed trees and along a ridge. At the decision point to either continue along the loop trail, hike to the falls or head to the Wildflower Loop, we decided to pass the bridge and go the 100 yards to the falls. This short detour takes you down to the river and along the river banks. For the best view, you may even find some protruding rocks that appear stable enough to step upon so that you can cross the river.


Machine Falls in Short Springs State Natural Area

Machine Falls in Short Springs State Natural Area

After a close-up look at the falls, retrace your steps back across the river. We passed the turn-off to the Adams Falls Trail as it was closed during our visit due to "hazardous conditions". If you have a few extra minutes, you'll soon come upon a turn off for the Wildflower Loop. Blazed in yellow, the loop is short and has some nice views of both the wildflowers and Bobo Creek.


Wildflowers at Short Springs State Natural Area

Wildflowers at Short Springs State Natural Area

Bobo Creek

Bobo Creek

Bobo Creek with Stacked Rocks

Bobo Creek with Stacked Rocks

Before calling it a day, we also hiked the short trail which led to a Waterfall Overlook. Although the view of the falls is not nearly as good as from below, it is an enjoyable final stop before heading to your car.


View of Machine Falls from Waterfall Overlook

View of Machine Falls from Waterfall Overlook

Two additional trails in the Natural Area include the Bobo Creek Trail which features overlooks of both an upper and lower waterfall and the Laurel Bluff Trail.



4. Point Park at Lookout Mountain

Located in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Point Park at Lookout Mountain is part of the national park system. Admission to the park is $7.00 for adults (waived for those with an America the Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass). Nearby metered parking is available. Having an account setup on the ParkMobile app on your smart phone makes paying for a space quick and easy. (We paid $3.35 for one hour of parking including all fees. If you hope to take advantage of some of the hiking trails which begin from the park, you'll definitely need more than an hour of parking.)


Entrance to Point Park at Lookout Mountain

Entrance to Point Park at Lookout Mountain

The round trip walk between the park entrance and Point Lookout totals about 1/2 mile. The first part of the walkway is fully paved and accessible. The easy walk allows everyone to pass the Artillery and Garrity's Battery overlooks along with the New York Peace Monument. Signage along the way provides historical information about the 1863 Battles for Chattanooga.


Views of the Tennessee River from Lookout Mountain

Views of the Tennessee River from Lookout Mountain

Artillery at Point Park

Artillery at Point Park

New York Peace Monument

New York Peace Monument

Garrity's Battery

Garrity's Battery

Continuing the remaining distance to Ochs Memorial Observatory for additional views of Moccasin Bend and Chattanooga does require ascending and descending steps. For those interested in even more active exploration of Lookout Mountain, hiking trails are available including:

  • The 1.1 mile Sunset Rock Trail on which you can hike to the point from which troops received direction during the Battle of Wauhatchie;
  • The 1.5 mile Craven's House Trail passes by the headquarters used by both armies;
  • The 4.3 mile Covenant College Trail passes near the mountain top campus of the private liberal arts college; and
  • In addition to bringing hikers to the spring, at 5.7 miles the Skyuka Spring Trail connects to several additional trails on the mountain.
If this taste of civil war history makes you yearn for more, Chickamauga Battlefield is less than 30 minutes away. In addition to a film and exhibits in the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, more hiking trails and a seven mile driving or biking tour takes you past important memorials and monuments.



5. Walnut Street Bridge and Chattanooga Riverwalk

A quick walk across the Tennessee River on the Walnut Street Bridge for some exercise was our original plan. After finding an available parking space on the streets of Downtown Chattanooga, we walked toward the blue trusses of the bridge and found so much more. Among the longest bridges in the world exclusively for pedestrian traffic, you can get exercise while admiring the bridge erected in 1890.


Walnut Street Bridge

Walnut Street Bridge

You can easily spend the better part of a day (or maybe even more) exploring all that awaits you along the Chattanooga Riverwalk, crossing the 1/2 mile long bridge and even spending time on the North Shore. Upon realizing that there is so much to see and do in the area, we had to make a choice on how to spend our limited available time. We started by walking part way across the historic bridge, before returning downtown to Coolidge Park. From there we took off to see more of the downtown area.


Crossing the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge

Crossing the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge

In addition to some early evening sightseeing, our desire was to reach our daily step goal. The Riverwalk, however, can also be explored by bicycle - either yours or one available for rent at various points along the walkway. (In fact, if your primary goal is sightseeing versus exercise, you can even bring or rent a boat to enjoy the scenery along the banks of the river as you cruise along.)



From choosing an activity fun for you and your traveling companions to enjoying a riverside picnic or dining in one of the large selection of restaurants, you're sure to find something enticing to fill whatever amount of time that you have available. Among the more than 10 miles of beautifully landscaped paved pathway which is lighted at night, you'll find parks with amenities including playgrounds and fishing piers. In addition to retail shopping, there's an aquarium, museum, sporting venue and much, much more. You'll even find restrooms and water fountains!


Scott Giving a High-Five to a Great Dane Sculpture on Chattanooga Riverwalk

Scott Giving a High-Five to a Great Dane Sculpture on Chattanooga Riverwalk

Looking for Dinner in Chattanooga?

After setting up our RV site at Fairview Campground in Tims Ford State Park, we headed to Chattanooga. We spent more time than planned at Point Park, so before driving toward the Walnut Street Bridge, we made a dinner stop.

Diners are seated together at shared round tables, each with a turntable, at the family owned Bea's Restaurant. An all-you-can-eat buffet is served right at your table - you don't even have to get up to fill your plate. (Another reason why we needed to get in some exercise after dinner!)


Dinner at Bea's Restaurant

Dinner at Bea's Restaurant

The menu at Bea's Restaurant changes daily. Entrees served at our Wednesday evening dinner included fried chicken, spaghetti and pulled pork. Also included in the $14.50 price was a variety of vegetables, breads and peach cobbler for dessert.



Need Ideas for Avoiding Weight Gain on an Extended Vacation?

If you are a full-time RVer or tend to travel away from home for extended periods of time, check back in the coming weeks for a post filled with suggestions just for you. Titled Tips to Help You Maintain (not Gain) Weight on an Extended RV Journey (& Still Have Fun!), you'll find tried and true ideas. Don't forget - it pays off to start planning before your long trip so you can stay motivated along the way!

Sightseeing in South Central Tennessee

Our hikes and walks in south central Tennessee started with the purpose of getting some exercise and meeting our daily step goals. The great thing is that we also had the opportunity to see some great sites along the way. If you were to recommend your favorite sightseeing opportunities in south central Tennessee to others, what would make the top of your list, and why?




Weather:73F Mostly Cloudy


5 Awesome Places for Outdoor Exercise in South Central Tennessee






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Created On 07/16/2019 23:05:23  
Updated On 07/25/2019 10:48:29
Scheduled On 07/17/2019 12:50:24
Posted On 07/17/2019 16:50:24
Last Editor Scott
Location  Point Park, Lookout Mountain, TN, United States
LinkId  5SCTNHikingTrails
StoryId  1563332723579





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