Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center


A 317-acre green oasis just 15 minutes from downtown Chattanooga, Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center pairs outdoor recreation with botanical and wildlife exhibits. Grounded in the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to experience nature, regardless of where they live or their economic status, this outdoor recreation hub features 15 miles of trails, live animals indoors and outdoors, and even a treehouse. Hike, bike, paddle or fish, or simply relax and enjoy the restorative beauty of nature. 


In 1956, Chattanooga lawyer John Alexander Chambliss and his wife Margaret created a driveable route through this idyllic stretch of land situated between Lookout Mountain and Creek, just south of downtown Chattanooga. They called it a “Riding,” an 18th-century term for a scenic touring route designed to be enjoyed by horseback or horse-drawn carriage, and marketed it to motor tourists during the Golden Age of the Automobile. The property extended its mission to study and conserve native plant life with the later addition of a teaching arboretum and nature center, is today home to over 1,000 species of flora, with over 150 tree species. Over 40 resident animals, all native to East Tennessee, serve as 'Animal Ambassadors', teaching school-age children and adults more about their habitats, and how we humans can help them thrive.

Plan your visit

Options for outdoor exploration abound at the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center Walk. Run, bike or drive the three-mile gravel loop trail through mature hardwood forests, wildflower meadows, and wetlands habitats. Paddle Lookout Creek, with easy access and a canoe/kayak put-in. Hike over ten miles of trails connected to national parkland that leads to the top of Lookout Mountain. Set off on a guided nature hike or participate in hands-on, volunteer efforts to remove invasive plants. Visit the native animal exhibit and meet the resident native, critically-endangered red wolves, a bobcat, sandhill cranes, and American Bald Eagle. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the active iNaturalist project by adding their own photos and observations of the center’s native flora and fauna. Purchase native plants from the onsite, Native Plant Nursery and bring the beauty home to your own garden.  


The trails at Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center are interwoven, so you can set off on a short or long hike tailored to your skill level and explore the area's five distinct biomes. 

The 2.7-mile Profile Trail crosses the many landscapes that make up this ecologically diverse area and is one of the most popular day hikes. The Profile Trail connects to longer trails in the Lookout Mountain trail system. For a panoramic view of Chattanooga, follow the trail up to picturesque Sunset Rock.

Download a free trail map before you go to plan your day of exploration. 


Reflection Riding’s boat launch is located on the banks of Lookout Creek, a slow, winding tributary of the Tennessee River that can be easily paddled in either direction. Head upstream past Paddler’s Perch, a designated stop on the Tennessee River Blueway, or downstream toward Cummings Bottoms and the Tennessee River. Bring your own watercraft or rent canoes from Reflection Riding for an additional fee. Water levels on Lookout Creek can fluctuate due to discharge from Chickamauga Dam on the Tennessee River, so check Tennessee Valley Authority lake levels and release schedule before you set off in your canoe or kayak. 

Swincar E-Spider Adventure Tours

Tour the property aboard a Swincar E-Spider, an electrically powered off-road vehicle that offers a comfy, stable, yet adventurous ride. Swincar tours are led by a guide from Adventure Sports Innovation. All drivers must be licensed and 18+; two-seat tandem model Swincars can accommodate one passenger. Reflection Riding also offers a handicap-accessible version of the Swincar, as well as for the two-seat tandem model.


Visitors and members are welcome to visit during daylight hours, even when the main campus gate is closed. Visitors must reserve a visit pass. Consider becoming a member to receive year-round daylight access.

Nearby Restaurants 

Hillbilly Willy’s

Hillbilly Willy’s slow cooks premium meats over a hickory-smoked fire and tops them with housemade BBQ sauce. Save room for the from-scratch chocolate peanut butter pie. 

Mojo Burrito St. Elmo

Build your own burrito at Mojo Burrito St. Elmo, a Chattanooga-owned Tex-Mex fave. The Happy Hour here is always hopping with draft specials paired with Mexican-inspired munchies. 

Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe

Enjoy BBQ onsite at this casual, local eatery nestled at the foot of Lookout mountain, or have sandwiches and sides packed to go, and enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors.

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