North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Natural Area
Site Directions: North Chickamauga Creek Gorge is located 15 miles north of Chattanooga. There is access to hiking in the gorge and on the plateau.
To the gorge, take Highway 27, exit at Thrasher Pike and turn left, go about a mile to Dayton Pike, and then turn right and proceed a mile to Montlake Road. Take a left and proceed 1.5 miles to the entrance on the left.
Montlake Rd trailhead - Lat: 35.23516°N Long: -85.23254°W
To the top of the plateau, turn off of Dayton Pike left on Roberts Mill Road. At the top of the escarpment, go straight onto Hixson Springs Road and proceed about 1.5 miles to the grassy field and parking area opposite Standing Rock Road.
Hixson Springs/Standing Rock trailhead - Lat: 35.23235°N Long: -85.27999°W
Hours: daylight hours
Seasonality: year round
Site Description: North Chickamauga Creek is a 7,093-acre natural area located in Hamilton and Sequatchie Counties. It is an outstanding deep gorge cut into the sandstone plateau of Walden's Ridge on the Cumberland Plateau.
The gorge is approximately ten miles long with steep slopes, sandstone bluffs, and rich coves. A high diversity of plant and animal habitat exists in the gorge. Ten state and/or federally listed plants occur there. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons have also been reported there.
A mixed mesophytic forest combines with oak-hickory, and oak-pine forests to form a rich mosaic throughout much of the gorge. Small pockets of old growth forest with towering tulip poplar, yellow buckeye, and basswood occur in remote locations where rugged topography has protected the forest from past logging.
On the uplands and bluffs, there are oak-hickory and oak-pine forests, upland ponds, and sandstone glades and barrens.
Riverside shoals and stream cobble bars in North Chickamauga Creek provide habitat for several threatened and endangered plants.
The creek is a popular kayaking stream during parts of the year. It is also a popular destination for hikers.
Wildlife to Watch: General woodland birding is excellent year round.