Thursday, February 23, 2017

Biking the Tennessee Riverpark's Newest Section

The Tennessee Riverpark (also known as the Riverwalk) is one of our favorite places to bike in Chattanooga. With wide-open paved paths and great views, it is a fun ride that is relatively kid friendly.

The original path starts at the Chickamauga Dam and makes its way to downtown Chattanooga where you can cross the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge to North Shore and make your way around Coolidge and Renaissance Parks.

This original trail was 9 miles and last year an additional 3.5 miles was completed from Ross's Landing in downtown Chattanooga out to historic St. Elmo at the base of Lookout Mountain. We have been anxious to find time to bike the newer portion of the Riverwalk and finally had an opportunity on Monday.

Before Isaac was born, we regularly biked the original section of the Riverwalk with Jack in tow. Since Jack has gotten bigger and would rather ride his own bike than ride in a trailer, we have shied away from going back.

We had been unsure of how far Jack would be able ride on his own, and how well he would handle other bikers and pedestrians since the Riverwalk can be busy.

Daniel was off of work for President's Day so we thought it would be a good day to visit the Riverwalk again. Thankfully the weather was absolutely gorgeous.

We started with lunch at Milk & Honey in North Shore before parking at Coolidge Park and making our way across the Walnut Street Bridge. There was a brief section on sidewalk next to traffic in North Shore, and Jack did great listening to our instructions and not getting to close to the street.

We made our way across the river and then navigated our way down sidewalks to the Aquarium (walking our bikes down the really steep hill) then crossing the street to Ross's Landing. From Ross's Landing we followed the sidewalk passed the marina before the trail picked up again. It followed the river with great views of Lookout Mountain.

We discovered a picnic area and bathrooms at Blue Goose Hollow. There is also a free parking lot here that we would park at in the future. After taking a break for a snack, we continued on through the industrial area of town toward St. Elmo. Isaac took the opportunity to nap in the bike trailer.

There was one long hill that Jack biked all of the way up and we took another break. He said he was getting tired so we agreed to turn back. We made it back to the picnic tables for another break, and then Jack's pedal fell off his bike. Daniel said he had never seen that happen before! Thankfully it was an easy fix.

Our final stop was at the playground at Ross's Landing before making our way back under the bridges, then up the switchback sidewalk to the Hunter Museum of art, then across the glass bridge back to the Walnut Street Bridge and finally back to Coolidge Park where our car was parked.

Jack was thrilled that he biked all 7.5 miles and said it must be a world record for a 5-year-old! At the very least, it is a record for him. He really wanted ice cream, so we stopped at Wendy's for frosty's on the way home. We are looking forward to going back and making it all the way to St. Elmo.

From St. Elmo, you can bike up the Guild-Hardy Trail, an old rail trail that goes to the top of Lookout, then you can take a National Park Service trail to Covenant College. From Covenant, the city of Chattanooga is working to build a connector trail that will go to Lula Lake which then connects to Cloudland Canyon.

I keep hinting to Daniel that we could probably do some bike camping via these connector trails. We shall see!

Our route: 7.5 miles completed on this ride.

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