With a six-, four-, and two-year old we are always looking for something fun to do on the weekends this time of year. It’s a little too hot to sit outside, but the pools are closing and the kids are bored! Growing up in Chattanooga, I’m not sure how I made it to 36 years of age not having been to the Blue Hole, but I hadn’t been until recently. A few weekends ago we went in search of something fun to fill our Saturday, so we headed to Soddy to see the Blue Hole for the first time — we had such a blast that I have to tell you about it!
In addition to telling you about the Blue Hole, I will share a few other weekend activities perfect for entertaining the kids while it is still feels like summer!
The Blue Hole is about a 20-minute drive from Chattanooga heading to the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge in Soddy Daisy. You pull up to a gravel drive and parking area in the woods just off the main road; the main trail is just off of the larger parking area. If you want an easy trip directly to a swimming hole, there are a couple of great spots right by the parking area. If you’re up for a little more adventure however, there is a nice, approximately one-mile hike into a beautiful swimming hole that is well worth the trip. This is such a great hike with kids because along the hike to the farthest swimming hole, there are other great, shallow swimming areas, so if you run out of steam or just need to take a dip to cool off along the way, there are plenty of great spots in which to swim.
About a quarter mile in, you cross the creek. I was told that you need to be aware of the water level because it can be either very easy or somewhat difficult to cross depending on how much rain there has been the days before. The trail is relatively flat and easy, and shaded most of the way. We made it to the end of the trail and were in awe of its beauty. The water is crystal-clear and there are rocks to jump off of (at your own risk, and again be aware of water levels and never dive head first!), and the water is shallow enough that even my two-year-old had fun walking around on the rocks.
If you make the trip with kids, here are some tips:
1. Go early, really early.
We got there at about 9:30am and it was quiet and peaceful, and we were the only people there. When we left around noon however, it was getting very crowded and not as kid-friendly.
2. Wear comfortable shoes that double as water shoes.
The hike is long enough that sandals won’t cut it, but you want shoes you can wear in the water because it is rocky.
3. Pack a picnic!
We had some snacks, but wished we had packed a full lunch because it would have been a great spot for a picnic after doing some swimming. Bring a small trash bag to remove your trash and leave the area clean, because litter can definitely be a problem there.
4. Bring a swimmie if you have young ones because there are areas that are deep enough to swim.
We also wished we had brought some kind of inflatable float for the kids. Also, bring at least one towel and maybe a change of clothes for the kids.
In addition to the Blue Hole, we have had friends suggest Rainbow Lake and Mabbitt Springs on Signal as well as Glen Falls; these are next on our list. We love the hike at Cloudland Canyon down to the waterfall as well. It is somewhat steep with some stairs and an incline, but a relatively quick hike and a great spot to let the kids play on the rocks and have a picnic before hiking back up.
If you are searching for more August/September family weekend fun, here are a few more things to try:
1. Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater in Trenton, GA
This is a 20-minute drive from Chattanooga and is a great weekend spot if you want to do something different. It is a little bit of a late night because the gates open at 7:30pm and the movie begins at 8:45pm, but if your kids can stay up, it is fun! They have two screens — one usually shows movies good for families, the other for adults. They don’t stay open too long into the fall, so catch a movie soon before it closes for the season. It is cash only, $7 a person, kids three and under are free. To see what is showing, visit www.wildernesstheater.com.
2. Doggie Dip Pool Party
On September 9, from 11am-3pm, check out the Doggie Dip Pool Party at Warner Park Pool. On the last weekend the pool is open, they celebrate by letting you bring your dogs to play in the water. It is $15 per doggie and humans are free, and it all benefits McKamey Animal Center. Click here for more information.
3. Lookouts Game
There are a few more Lookouts Games to enjoy at the end of August and beginning of September. The games are fun for all ages, are laid back, and have fireworks at the end.
4. Braves Game
If you’re feeling like more of a drive, the new Braves stadium is worth checking out. They have home games through September. See their schedule here.