Rock/Creek staffers and a sunrise paddle on South Chickamauga Creek

This write-up comes courtesy of Samantha from Rock/Creek Paddlesports at Riverside Drive. Visit our Flickr page to see more photos from the paddle!

If you’ve ever questioned the sanity of the Rock/Creek staff you talk with in the boat store by wondering if we really DO get out and play on the water in the winter, wonder no more!

YES, we do, and NO, the body of water doesn’t matter (for most of us, anyway. I’m the flatwater junkie who has little desire to play around rocks I can’t see, but that’s neither here nor there for this context)…

Generally speaking, as long as we can be on the water, we’re happy; ambient temperature and weather have little to zero bearing on whether we get our boats wet or not.

One recent Sunday morning, a small contingency of us braved high 20 degree temperatures in order to catch a winter’s sunrise on the Tennessee River. With my car easily mistaken for a Seussian vehicle due to the 5 long boats on top, I was easy to spot when we rendezvoused at Rivermont Park to take advantage of the public access boat ramp found there.

Once our butts were finally in boats and we were as bundled up against the cold temperatures as we could be, we paddled across the Tennessee River to check out a little bit of South Chickamauga Creek at flood stage.

Great blue herons, kingfishers, ducks, even a cardinal or two all kept us company as we paddled over benches and onto a flooded section of the Tennessee Riverwalk which fronts the Creek; hovering over permanent outdoor furniture in a 12’ to 17’ boat is certainly different, let me tell ya!

Though we were paddling our boats smack in the middle of a mid-sized city, the only give-aways to this fact were the railroad trestle, Amnicola Highway, and another section of the Tennessee Riverpark that we passed under, and the not-terribly overt sounds of human kind and development; all of which are part of being in city center.

South Chickamauga Creek itself is actually a nearly 20 mile long waterway that makes for an enjoyable paddle when done in its entirety. By the same token, a fantastic family paddle opportunity is to be found by putting in at Sterchi Farm and paddling to take out at either the Tennessee Riverpark, or further down and on to the take out at Coolidge Park.

Due to time constraints, we didn’t get to paddle much of South Chick at all, but what we did have time to enjoy was delightful, eye opening and invigorating (thanks to the cold temps!) all the same.

Without speaking brazenly for everyone else, I can honestly say that I never tire of opportunities to catch incredible sunrises while enjoying our city from only one of the many bodies of which make Chattanooga a water aficionado’s Dream Town. Experiencing the world from the waterline always puts things into perspective for me, especially when at sunrise…

Despite the fact that I’ve lived here most of my life, Chattanooga never ceases to amaze me. I always look forward to discovering and sharing those hidden gems, particularly with those who’s company I enjoy and who share my passion for enjoying and experiencing life outside!

Samantha Christen
Rock/Creek Paddlesports Store