Contact and Other Necessary Information
About the Tennessee River Blueway
Formed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the 1930's, and designated as a river trail in 2002, the Tennessee River Blueway flows through Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge for 50 miles, from Chickamauga Dam to Nickajack Dam. It provides opportunities for canoeists and kayakers to take day trips, or camp overnight in marinas, parks, or in one of five designated primitive sites.
Just a few miles downstream from Chickamauga Dam, downtown Chattanooga offers accessible riverfront amenities on both shores. Paddlers can visit public parks and plazas, restaurants and coffee shops, galleries and museums, and attractions. Natural and man made features to be seen from the water include the restored 19th century Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, the Chief John Ross (Market Street) Bridge, Maclellan Island, the Museum Bluffs, and the Passage at Ross' Landing.
From Chattanooga, the Blueway winds around the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological District and historic Williams Island, then past Suck Creek to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust's Pot Point House. The 1835 hand-hewed log cabin was restored in 1993. It was originally built with recycled logs taken from a flat boat that wrecked at the "The Boiling Pot,” formerly the most treacherous rapids in the Gorge.
Nearby are Prentice Cooper State Forest and the TVA Raccoon Mountain Pump Storage Facility, which holds water for hydro-electric power generation. Atop the mountain is a man-made reservoir created by an impressive 230-foot-high, 8,500 foot-long dam. A visitors center, picnic facilities, and a network of trails around the reservoir offer recreation for hikers and mountain bikers.
Once through the Gorge, paddlers will pass by Oates Island the relic Hales Bar Dam as they proceed into Nickajack Lake under the U.S. Highway 41 and I-24 bridges. This final leg of the Blueway features parks, marinas, and Nickajack Cave, where thousands of endangered gray bats provide a show every summer evening.
Navigational maps for the entire Tennessee River System.
How to Lock through on TVA Rivers (not needed for the Blueway)
Chickamauga Lock and Dam (423) 875-6230
Nickajack Lock and Dam (423) 942-3985
Navigation Aids on the TVA River System
Emergency Contact Information
Any Emergency 911
Hamilton Co. Sheriff's Dept. (423) 622-0022
Chattanooga Police Dept. (423) 698-2525
Marion Co. Sheriff's Dept. (423) 942-5667
TVA (TN Valley Authority) Police (423) 751-3783
TN Wildlife Resources Agency (800) 262-6704
U.S. Coast Guard (423) 622-2101
Public Boat Launches
River Mile: 469.0
GPS Coord: 35 06'05.85”N 85 14'17.23”W
Location: South Shore Tennessee River
Access: Public powerboat launch located downriver from Chickamauga Dam in a Hamilton County-managed public park. Acquire a free overnight parking permit from Outdoor Chattanooga.
River Mile: 468.7
Location: North Shore Tennessee River
Access: Free public powerboat launch.
Coolidge Park/Renaissance Park
River Mile: 464.4
GPS Coord: 35 03'34.26”N 85 18'30.52”W
Location: North Shore, downtown Chattanooga
Access: No free overnight parking. All day single vehicle parking $4. Canoe and Kayak launch located beneath the Chief John Ross (Market St.) Bridge. Overnight parking with permit from Outdoor Chattanooga.
River Mile: 463.6
GPS Coord: 35 03'24.03N 85 18'44.71”W
Location: South Shore downtown Chattanooga
Access: Powerboat launch located to the west of the Southern Belle River Boat Company on Riverfront Parkway. $5 all day parking at waterfront. Overnight parking with permit from Outdoor Chattanooga.
Suck Creek Boat Launch
River Mile: 453.3
GPS Coord: 35 06'34.69”N 85 21'56.12”W
Location: U.S. 27 South/Suck Creek Road
Access: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency public power boat launch. Free overnight parking.
TVA Raccoon Mountain
River Mile: 444.4
GPS Coord: 35 03'35.15”N 85 25'00.50”W
Location: TVA Pumped Storage facility/U.S. Hwy. 41
Access: Free public powerboat launch with overnight parking.
Reservations with managing agencies are required.
- Please camp in designated Blueway or private campsites only. Much of the land along the Blueway is private, so respect the landowners and do not trespass.
- All Blueway campsites are marked with a Blueway sign.
- Please Tread Lightly!
- The facilities are primitive. No potable water is available so campers should pack in or treat drinking water. DO NOT DRINK UNTREATED RIVER WATER!
- All trash (including fishing line) should be packed-out.
- Pit toilets are available at Maclellan Island, Williams Island, and Pot Point. All other campsites are without sanitary facilities. Campers must pack-out all human waste. Portable backcountry sanitation systems can be purchased from outdoor equipment suppliers.
- Maclellan Island, Williams Island, and Pot Point can accommodate groups of 20, though advanced permission is required .
- Please check with managing agencies to see if campfires are permitted. Only dead and downed wood may be burned. Do not cut standing vegetation under any circumstances.
- Due to the topography, cell phone coverage is non-existent or sporadic, at best. Plan accordingly.
(AT&T coverage is very good)
Designated Blueway Campsites
Maclellan Island– Downtown Chattanooga
River Mile: 464.8
GPS Coord: 35 03'21.97”N 85 17'55.53”W
Campsite: Northeast corner
Amenities: Pit toilets, bunk house (20 pp), picnic area.
Supplies: Restaurants, post office, grocery store and a drug store are available within walking distance of the river on Chattanooga's north shore.
Features: 18-acre island with a 2-mile perimeter hiking trail and views of downtown Chattanooga, Great Blue Heron rookery and bird sanctuary.
Managed by: Chattanooga Audubon Society
Options: You can canoe to the north or south shore of the river to access the city or you can leave your canoe at camp, hike to the Water Taxi dock on the west end of the island and call the Chattanooga Water Taxi to come pick you up… 423.756.5060. The taxi can take you to the north or south shore for restaurants, supplies, entertainment and shopping.
Go to the taxi website for more information and to view a good map of the island: http://www.chattanoogawatertaxi.com/macisland.asp
35 03'25.13"N 85 18'17.68"W
Williams Island - Moccasin Bend/Suck Creek Area
River Mile: 455.2
GPS Coord: 35 05'06.52"N 85 20'27.13"W
Campsite: On the northeast shore of island across from Baylor School on river right.
Amenities: Pit toilet
Supplies: Suck Creek boat launch is 2 miles downstream. A fishing supply/grocery is located ¼ mile north on Suck Creek Road (U.S. 27)
Features: Archaeological sites dating to 12,000 B.C. and the Mississippian era. Much of the island is now used for cattle farming. A former oxbow on the west shore has been turned into a wetland by beaver dams. A perimeter hiking trail is currently under construction.
Managed by: Williams Island is managed by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. You must contact them for permission. It would probably be a good idea to go ahead and make a $25 donation to the trust when you ask permission. The Trust manages two locations along the river that you are interested in. Ask for permission to camp at Williams Island and the Pot House area.
Suck Creek Public Boat Launch
GPS Coord: 35 06'34.69"N 85 21'56.12"W
Pot Point Campsite– TN River Gorge Trust/Prentice Cooper State Forest
River Mile: 447.7
GPS Coord: 35 05'24.40"N 85 23'51.54"W
Campsite: River right just downstream of Pot Point House.
Amenities: Pit Toilet
Features: The campsite is primitive and for tent camping only. Pot Point House is available for rental by groups, but reservations should be made far in advance, especially in warm months. It is equipped with full kitchen, bath and showers, dining room, great room, and two group bedrooms. Nearby are a boardwalk river trail, and hiking trails up into TRGT property and Prentice Cooper State Forest.
Managed by: Tennessee River Gorge Trust
Prentice Cooper State Forest – Tennessee River Gorge
River Mile: 444.5
GPS Coord: 35 04'02.28"N 85 23'55.74"W
Campsite: River right
Features: Clear dirt with lots of tree coverage
Managed by: Tennessee Dept. of Forestry
Marion County Park and Campground – Nickajack Lake
River Mile: 429.0
GPS Coord: 35 01'49.09"N 85 33'31.96"W
Campsite: Public park with RV and tent sites
Amenities: Rest rooms, showers, campground store
Managed by: Marion County Parks and Recreation
These campgrounds require reservations in advance and may require minimum stays. All provide tent camping. Please call to double check requirements.
Camp on the Lake
Campground: Underneath the I-24 Bridge in the center of Nickajack Lake
GPS Coord: 35 00'48.99"N 85 33'29.08"W
Address: 10241 Highway 156, Guild, TN 37340
Amenities: Showers, cabins, convenience store
Toll Free: (866) 942-4078
Phone: (423) 942-4078
Hales Bar Marina and Resort (River Mile 431.1)
Campground: On river left just downstream of Hales Bar Dam
GPS Coord: 35 02'53.20"N 85 32'10.22"W
Address: 1265 Oldhales Bar Rd., Guild, TN 37340
Amenities: Tent sites, cabins, laundry, pool and restaurant
Reservations: (423) 942-9000
For information on area canoe and kayak instruction, guided trips, and resource stewardship, please contact Outdoor Chattanooga at (423) 643-6888 or email email@example.com .