South Chickamauga Creek Watershed

In the greater Chattanooga area, before there were cars, there was South Chickamauga Creek with its many navigable tributaries starting in Georgia and eventually flowing into the Tennessee River (Nickajack Lake) at the Riverpark near Chickamauga Dam.  The creek was a transportation corridor for Native Americans and Civil War soldiers.  Old wagon trails, footpaths including portions of the Trail of Tears, archeological sites, fords, mill and cabin remnants, cemeteries, rich wildlife, and numerous stories from descendants outline the lives and lifestyles of the past.  Today the watershed provides a significant  Eastern U.S. flyway especially for waterfowl and many historical sites to visit.   The watershed shelters the endangered South Chickamauga Crayfish.  The Lightfoot Mill Road area is home to an original colony of snail darters and the old railroad bridge there has appeared in several movies.  

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Location

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Latitude: 34.9966667 Longitude: -85.2375 Elevation: 706 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Sandra Kurtz

Recreational Opportunities

Canoeing and Kayaking with put-ins at Swanson Mill, Audubon Acres, Brainerd Road, Shallowford Road, Sterchi Farm and South Chickamauga Creek Greenway terminus on the Riverwalk.  Relatively flat water with occasional gentle rapids passing through residential, pastoral, airiport, and industrial areas.  A couple of sewer pipe portages.  

Waterfowl sightings in the Tennessee Wildlife Observation Area along the Brainerd Levee.  Easy walking and sightings.  Park along Shallowford Road at the northern end of the Brainerd Levee.  

South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Walking and Biking.  The Greenway begins at the Riverwalk terminus with picnic pavilions and restrooms.  Other entrances are at Sterchi Farm (Old Harrison Pike Bridge), Shallowford Road, and Camp Jordan.

Children's Playground with Nature oriented equipment designs for play.   Located on the greenway toward the Tennessee River scenic overlook.  

Audubon Acres (Elise Chapin Sanctuary) features 130 acres on either side of South Chickamauga Creek, a historical cabin to tour, an interpretative visitors center containing Native American archeological exhibit, and forested natural trails.  The site is a registered Trail of Tears site and also the site of an earlier Woodland Indian archeological village.  The site is owned and operated by the Chattanooga Audubon Society.  It is located at 900 N. Sanctuary Road. (423) 892-1499.  Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Brainerd Mission Cemetery holds the remains of many students and missionary workers from the Brainerd Mission School that operated from 1817-1853 in order to educate Cherokee children.  The original mission lands were extensive and included millworks along the now diverted South Chickamauga Creek.  Today, large red oak trees shade this peaceful spot with interesting gravestones and historical markers to read.  

Camp Jordan southern greenway terminus.  This large recreational events area has a circular paved walking path and also features a recycled bridge that crosses West Chickamauga Creek just before it joins South Chickamauga Creek.  Walk or bike about one-fourth mile through a forested section and go under I-75 to join the southern end of the Brainerd Levee.  

Seasons Accessible

All although flooding may limit access from time to time

How to Get There

South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Riverwalk terminus.  Follow Amnicola Hwy and the Riverwalk.  Come to 3701 with the NK Lawn & Garden Sign.   Turn in there.  Take an immediate left and follow the road to the parking area.   Open dawn to dusk.

Sterchi Farm Canoe Launch and Greenway, Old Harrison Pike Bridge,  Chattanooga, TN.  Take Hwy 153 North to the Amnicola Exit.  Turn left, cross over the highway and turn left on Access Road.  Turn right on Benton Road and follow to the Kings Point sign.  Turn left to cross the Old Harrison Pike Bridge.  Immediately turn left into the Sterchi Farm parking area highlighted by the historic stone silo. Open dawn to dusk. 

Shallowford Road Wildlife Observation Area and Brainerd Levee, Shallowford Road at intersection of Moore Road, Chattanooga, TN.  Take I-75 Moore Road exit and continue across Brainerd Road to turn right on Shallowford Road where you will see the parking area for the Levee next to a convenient store on the right.  

Brainerd Road Levee Entrance, 5900 Brainerd Road at Greenway View Drive.  Take Moore Rd., exist off I-75, turn right on Brainerd Road, pass the Eastgate and Brainerd Village entrances and turn right onto Greenway View Drive.  Park at rear of Q-Dobas Mexican Grill.

Brainerd Mission, 5700 Eastgate Loop, Chattanooga, TN.  Take Moore Rd. Exit off I-75, turn right on Brainerd Rd., Go .6 miles and turn right into Eastgate Town Center.  Cemetery is on north side of mall area.  Open 8 a.m. - 4:40 p.m. weekdays.

Audubon Acres, 900 North Sanctuary Road.  From I-75 take East Brainerd Road East.  Turn right on Gunbarrel Road and follow Audubon Acres signs.  At bend in road, it becomes North Sanctuary Road.  Follow to end into the parking lot.  Open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. all days except holidays.  

Camp Jordan and entrance to southern terminus of greenway.  Take I-75 S Exit 1 to East Ridge and Ringgold Rd.  Turn left off ramp and take left on Camp Jordan Parkway/Fred Pruett Parkway winding in front of and around the motel.  The arena is on the right.  Look to left in distance to see the bridge entrance near a small picnic pavilion.  

Fees

All are free except for nominal admission fee to Audubon Acres Wildlife Sanctuary.

ADA Accessibility Notes

All trails are relatively flat and many are paved.  There is a handicapped accessible canoe launch at the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway terminus at the Riverwalk off Amnicola Highway.  

Pet Friendly Notes

Dogs on leashes allowed on Brainerd Levee.  No pets allowed at Audubon Acres or on Riverwalk.  

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