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9 Dam Miles at TVA Raccoon Mountain

One lap around the reservoir.
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 9 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview :  TVA Raccoon Mountain is my favorite place to run. With a variety of trail options and unmatched views of the surrounding mountains the... more »

Tips:  Carry water. Be alert for mountain bikers while on the trails, I just step aside and let 'em go. Park at East Overlook. Do not leave... more »

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Points of Interest

1. East Overlook

As you come up the hill take a left into East Overlook. It is the closest area to the entrance and with a higher volume of traffic it is safer. There is a great view of Lookout, downtown and the river from here. I started down the road and clocked 8.7 on the GPS, for the full 9 enter at the trailhead on the opposite side of the parking lot from... More

2. East Rim

As soon as you cross the road you entered on you reach East Rim Trail, 1.25 miles. There are a few rocky sections along the whole route and areas where the trail literally crosses over boulders.

The trail is straight forward. There is a split in the trail not long after entering. Both sides are similar and rejoin after a couple of hundred yards.

3. Chunky

After a short bit of running you reach Chunky, an expert riding area. I've run through this before and there are more rocks and boulders. For this guide, stay right.

4. Gravel Road

Exiting the woods you come to an open field and are dumped onto a gravel road. Go right and follow around corner. Watch for sign and trail on right. This is the transition from East Rim to Switchyard, .75 miles. The caution sign pictured is a new trail on the right that I have never been on that will eventually lead to the intake area below. Enjoy... More

5. Powerline

After rejoining the single-track, you arrive at another powerline area on the Switchyard Trail. From here you get to view the surrounding mountains and what makes TVA work.

6. Lower Intestine

After powerlines you re-enter woods and are immediately at a split in trail. Right takes you into Lower Intestine and left skips this 3.5 mile trail. Take the left unless you want more miles. For that route see Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race Day 1, an 18-mile trip in Everytrail.

7. The Pond

Between the entrance and exit to Lower Intestine is a pond. Nice break in the action and if you have your dog a chance to have a drink and maybe a swim.

8. Lower Out

After the pond you will come to the other end of Lower Intestine. Keep straight onto Grindstone and your first climb.

9. The Hill

There are only a couple of appreciable hills along the route. The first is on the Grindstone Ridge Trail. Not very long or hard, just enough to make you work. After the climb there is a section of very rocky trail heading towards the Visitor's Center.

10. Grindstone

Grindstone is between Switchyard and the Visitor's Center with a hill, a short technical section and a grassy area with water tower. It is my favorite section.

11. Visitor's Center

You reach another intersection at the Visitor's Center. If you've never been here before run across parking lot and take a look at the river below from the observation deck. Across the way is Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area. See guides for Mullen's Cove and Pot Point Loops. Those are remote wilderness runs. Your trail continues to the... More

12. Visitor's Center Rocks

Heading out from the Visitor's Center the trail drops steeply and runs beneath the scenic overlook along the cliffline. Serious dropoff to your right. There is a section of rockiness here that is fun to run before a small creek leading to another climb. There are a couple of spots along this section to see RIver Gorge.

13. No Left

There is another intersection in this portion of the trail. It is a mile loop which twists and winds and then deposits you back on the trail within 100 yards of where you exited. If you need another mile take the left. If not, stay right.

14. Up on dam

After a long run along the cliffs and back up into several washes and rocky area you arrive at the base of the dam. Turn left uphill. See the path along the middle of the dam, that is your path.

15. Electric Ave

The path along the dam dies out bringing you to ground level. Take a right onto the overgrown service road and look for a trail crossing over. Turn left onto Electric Ave.

16. Crossing Laurel Point Road

Electric Ave deposits you on Laurel Point Road. Turn left on road and run towards yellow gate on right. Again, if you've never been here before run up the road and have a look at reservoir and surrounding mountains. It's worth the couple of minutes, and the short, steep climb.

17. South Rim

Go around yellow gate to right. After passing gate the single track picks back up on right. If you see a right, take it. You will come to an intersection of Laurel Point and South Rim. There is a sign. Turn left to complete your loop with just over 2 miles to go.

18. Powerline 2

The last scenic view along the route comes when you pass another set of powerlines and a drainage area. Flowers, water, and a great view of the surrounding mountains. Lookout Mountain is to your right across the way. See guides for Big Daddy, Wild Trails FA, Lookout Mountain 50 or visit the Wild Trails website for numerous other trails options.

19. Last Intersection

Right leads to East Overlook, left takes you to the East Rim Trail. I normally just head for my vehicle and a cold drink and at this point.