There aren’t very many good bike trails around Chattanooga. Most of the train tracks are still in use, so no rail-trails, and the terrain is too mountainous and the roads too narrow (with no shoulders) for riding on the roads. There is a riverwalk but there are so many people on it that you have to ride in a very leisurely fashion in order to be safe.
But it turns out that the premier place to ride bikes around Chattanooga is the Chickamauga Battlefield. We even have bike trail maps of the park. People are encouraged to ride on any of the secondary roads of the park which are not heavily driven and, even if cars come along, the speed limit is very low. If you ride in a loop along the secondary roads, you can get in a good 12 mile ride without feeling like you are putting your life in danger. Consequently, the parking lots around here are full with people taking a ride after work.
Riding your bike around the battlefield is also a great way to see the battlefield up close and personal. Recently Tom and I took the “driving tour” on our tandem. The Chickamauga driving tour has eight tour stops that are well-marked and take you through the third day of the Battle for Chickamauga. At each stop you can dial a number on your cell phone and listen to a 3 to 5 minute ranger talk about the location. Then you can walk around and look at the exhibits and monuments.
We try to ride around Chickamauga battlefield once or twice a week. It takes about an hour and each time we notice things that we haven’t seen before, which helps us in our job at the Visitor Center. For instance, now we know how to find the grave of the only person buried on the Chickamauga battlefield: John Ingraham.
Riding around Chickamauga battlefield is good exercise for our bodies and our minds. It is a good way to get to know the place we are living even better.