And we stick by it.
Fewer bugs and folks on the trail, low humidity, clearer visibility, and the possibility to see frozen waterfalls? Sign us up. Besides, we all know that Chattanoogans are gonna get outside no matter the temperature — so why not make a guide for it?
- Fiery Gizzard Trail | We recommend starting at the Foster Falls end for beautiful waterfall views + hiking until you want to turn back — in total, the out + back trail is over 16 miles.
- Laurel-Snow Trail | With foliage out of the way, the views on this 6.1-mile trail are even better in the winter (plus, it literally has snow in the name, so we had to include it).
- Snoopers Rock Trail | Prentice Cooper’s trails are well-maintained throughout the winter, making them easily accessible, easy to navigate, and dry — just be sure to check online for scheduled road closures before heading out.
- If you’re new to hiking or apprehensive about hiking in the winter, book a guided hike with Experience Chattanooga (which also includes a professional photo gallery).
Bonus: Take part in Outshine Adventures’ Winter Hike Challenge. Select the hiking level that’s best for you (casual, moderate, or advanced) and pledge to hike 90 miles in 90 days alongside Outshine — you’ll receive Outshine swag, discounts on tours, and will be invited to join monthly group hikes and track your own miles.
Winter road trips
- Asheville, NC | Omni Grove Park Inn | This historic hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains hosts a major gingerbread competition each year, making winter the perfect time to stay. Check out our friends at AVLtoday to help plan your trip.
- Gatlinburg, TN | Black Bear Inn | We can all agree that Gatlinburg is a top tier outdoor winter road trip location. Besides the general coziness of the city and that Smoky Mountains backdrop, it’s also got snow tubing, skiing, ice skating, and more — this hotel is minutes from all of it in Ober Gatlinburg.
Bonus: You can also try one of these cozy nearby stays.
- Raccoon Mountain Campground | Primitive sites open year-round | Primitive sites include a fire ring, picnic table, bathhouse + water faucets within walking distance | Book here
- Maclellan Island | Private island open year-round | One group camps on the island at a time, no running water, electricity, or access to roads. Access to island is by boat only | Book here
- Prentice Cooper State Forest | Hunter’s Check Station Camping area, Davis Pond Camping area open year-round | No sanitation facilities. Campers at Davis Pond must be in the campsite by sunset + can’t leave until sunrise. Check for scheduled closures before leaving. | First come, first served
- Cloudland Canyon State Park | Various campgrounds open year-round | Backcountry, electric campsite, pioneer camping, and tent-only camping options available | Book here
Seasonal outdoor activities
- Go ice skating at Ice on the Landing through Jan. 29.
- Make like Rudolph and run, run in a winter-themed race — Whiskey Run Chattanooga, Freeze Your Half Off, Jingle Bell Jog, or take a daring plunge at Lula Lake’s Polar Plunge Fun Run (the one time a year when the public is allowed to swim in Lula Lake).
- Walk through Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights atop Lookout Mountain.
- Even if we don’t get snow, you can still go sledding cardboard-style on cardboard hill in Renaissance Park.
- Head out on one of our aforementioned road trips via camper van — local business Nomad Be Happy’s vans now have heaters, so you’ll stay toasty all night long.
- Outdoor Chattanooga is bringing back its Winter Workshop Series in January 2023. The free, classroom-style clinics help folks learn various outdoor skills (like backyard birding + how to poop in the woods) during the winter months.
If “getting outside” means getting a tree + heading straight home
- Courtney Christmas Trees | Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 12-6 p.m. | This Southside tree stand also hosts wreath-making classes.
- Weaver Tree Farms | Daily, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. | 308 Signal Mountain Rd. | Stop by this roadside tree stand for trees, wreaths, garlands, and decor.
- Kittle Christmas Tree Farm | Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | 949 Salem Valley Rd., Ringgold, GA | Grab a tree from the oldest tree farm in North Georgia.
- Campbell’s Christmas Tree Farm | Fridays, 2-6 p.m. + Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. | 7503 Walnut Hills Dr., Harrison, TN | This small, family-owned tree farm has choose-and-cut trees (mostly of the Virginia Pine variety).
This content is sponsored by Rock/Creek Outfitters. Their goal is to equip you with everything you need to enjoy the great outdoors. Get outfitted for winter in one of their four Chattanooga locations, their Cleveland location, or online.