New hiking trail to open in Chattanooga this weekend

  A new hiking trail climbs the eastern edge of Prentice Cooper State Forest, ascending more than 1,000 feet with two main water crossings and several smaller ones sprinkled throughout. The climax of the rocky hike comes in the final mile: a 30-foot waterfall that rains down before the trail connects to the Cumberland Trail System’s Pot Point Loop.

The “moderately strenuous” 2.5-mile Ritchie Hollow Trail connects the Tennessee River to the top of Suck Creek Mountain. It opens with an 11 a.m. ceremony and hike Saturday at the trailhead near Pot Point Cabin.

The project adds to the growing trail network in the area and gives hikers a more advanced hiking opportunity. That’s something the Southeast Conservation Corps believes the area could use. The corps helped build the trail. The group did much of the technical work that would have been too difficult for most volunteers. For instance, the group helped create a path through a rock garden.

The trail goes through a historical moonshine-making area. Several moonshine stills remain in the woods along the trail and can be seen on the hike. Eventually, the corps wants to add more signs to highlight the history.

Plans are in the works to extend the trail later this year to Davis Pond campground and parking lot. That will give trail access at both the top and bottom of the mountain.

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