Chattanooga, TN is surrounded by many places of natural beauty where families can spend quality time together. One of my personal favorites is Reflection Riding, located at the base of Lookout Mountain. This garden is carefully designed for people of any age to enjoy. It covers roughly 300 acres and was founded in 1956 by John and Margaret Chambliss from an old farm threatened by commercialization (internet).
Main Road in Reflection Riding
One of the main features is the three mile loop road. Driving slowly, you can see the sights of Reflection Riding from the comfort of your own car. This is especially good if you have family members who aren’t able to walk well but still enjoy nature. The road circles through the main park of Reflection Riding past wildflower meadows, forest, Lookout Creek, and ponds. Also, there are parking places called “waybys” where you can stop and spend quiet time or have a picnic.
Paths and Hiking Trails in Reflection Riding
For a closer experience with what this English-style garden has to offer, enjoy the twelve miles of pathways and hiking trails. Reflection Riding harbors many wildflowers and forest growth. Hiking around the park allows you to see the beauty and variety up close. Many flower and tree species are identified by small signs with both the common and scientific names. These paths also connect with hiking trails on Lookout Mountain, giving a great opportunity for a day hiking to the top.
For a park of this size, it’s amazing what wildlife you’ll encounter. Canada geese can be found almost year round. Great blue herons frequent the ponds and are often seen in the main parts of Reflection Riding. Several species of songbirds make there home here and, if you visit several times a year, you’ll also see the migrations of even more songbirds as they pass through. Squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines, skunks, and other mammals, have all been found within Reflection Riding’s property.
Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Nature Center
The fee to enter Reflection Riding is nominal at only $6.00 and has the added value of allowing access to the Chattanooga Nature Center as well. The Chattanooga Nature Center is a well maintained facility and offers lots of information on local flora and fauna. The staff takes in wild animals that are injured or abandoned, and provide medical care and nurturing until they are released back to their habitats. The Chattanooga Nature Center uses Reflection Riding as an outdoor classroom and offers several family-centered educational activities in the spring and summer. Trails and boardwalks through the wetlands created by Lookout Creek are another feature of the nature center.
Directions to Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Nature Center
Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Nature Center are found at the same location and are only ten minutes from downtown Chattanooga. Take I-24 west towards Nashville/Birmingham, and then take exit 175 at Brown’s Ferry Road. From there turn left at the traffic light towards Lookout Mountain, and another left at the next traffic light on Cummings Road. Continue less than a mile and take the first right. From here just follow the signs. You’ll pass through a residential area on the way. Entry to Reflection Riding is at the drive through of the Chattanooga Nature Center’s Visitor Center.
Hours: Sunday (April through October) 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Note: Gate to parking area closes at 4:30 p.m.