Head down to the Tennessee River on any given day where the weather is even just a little bit nice and you will see stand up paddle boards and kayaks. The ease of putting these water crafts in the water and the relatively calm water makes SUPs and kayaks the perfect, fun sport to enjoy in Chattanooga.
This summer, I visited both Chicago and Austin. Like Chattanooga, they have major rivers and lakes either running through their down towns or directly adjoining them. Both cities have a plethora of cultures, restaurants and live music, just like Chattanooga. And in both cities I saw kayaks and in Austin, SUPs on the river. But neither city has what Chattanooga has in spades. Convenience.
Austin does have SUP rentals along Lady Bird Lake and a relatively easy access to the lake. However, getting to the lake takes some maneuvering. There really in no easy way to park and launch your kayak or SUP. Chicago has a very busy river and while kayaks can handle the tide, SUPs were nowhere to be seen. Launching seemed harder as you had to go through the locks to get to the calmer river.
Chattanooga has both sides of the river downtown and North Chattanooga where it is easy to launch. There is great parking in Coolidge Park and a wonderful launching ramp. Across the river, downtown, the parking is a little further away, with parking across a two lane street. But the walk is short and the ramp is easy to access as well. The river has a lot of traffic, from barges and the river boat to local fishermen and local rowing teams. And while that seems like quite a parade, there are usually more paddlers than anything else (unless you count the Ironman trainers swimming up river).
SUP and kayak are a great hobby to get into whether you are retired and looking for a something fun to fill your time or you work downtown and just want to get on the river in the afternoon. Chattanooga’ s Tennessee River, with views of downtown, easy access from two sides of the river and relatively low traffic is one of the best places to enjoy that hobby.