Three Gorges Segment - Soddy Creek Section
Click for PDF Description of Soddy Creek Trail
Click for Detailed Nat Geo Explorer Topo Maps of Soddy Gorge Section Trail
Parking and trail access are also available further north, on Hotwater Road at Sluder Lane. From Chattanooga take US-27 north to TN-319 Hixson Pike exit. Exit and turn left back over the highway to the T intersection at Dayton Pike. Turn right and continue 0.7 miles to Durham St. Turn left, with Soddy Lake on your right. Go 0.6 miles to a T intersection at Back Valley Rd. Turn right and travel one block to a four-way stop at Hotwater Rd. Turn left. Follow Hotwater Rd. two miles through Little Soddy Gorge until you crest the hill and reach Sluder Lane on your left. Park on the gravel at the corner of Sluder and Hotwater Rd. The trailhead is 230 ft back down Hotwater Rd. on your right. See photo below.
There are no designated campsites in this section. Water is available from Big Soddy and Board Camp Creek and the numerous side streams that flow into Big Soddy and Board Camp Creek. Please treat all water!
Mile 0.0 (16.0) Mowbray Pike Trailhead
This is the southern terminus of the Soddy Creek Gorge Section. From the kiosk, skirt the edge of the power line right-of-way and reach a rock cliff overlook.
Mile 0.3 (15.7) Rock Cliff Overlook and "Little Stone Door"
Look down the power line right-of-way from the cliff for a view of the old town of Daisy and the Tennessee River Valley, with the cooling towers of the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant silhouetted against the skyline. Cross the rock cliff and follow Mikel Branch, passing through "Little Stone Door"--a slit through the rock bluff. Reach the exit of the "door" and note an old rock house on the left. Archeologists believe this was once used by native Tennesseans. Looking back one can almost visualize a brave standing atop the little stone door gazing out into the valley below. Follow the brow of the bluff and pass among a number of huge rocks. There are views of the valley below from several overlook points.
Mile 1.1 (14.9) Huge Rocks
Descend, and traverse the slope of the escarpment. Ascend the slope again and enjoy another view of the valley below.
Mile 2.4 (13.6) Valley View
Proceed along a ridge separating the valley from a large coal strip cut. Cross the mine cut, work around the upper reaches of Clemmons Point, and descend into the valley of Little Soddy Creek along an old mining road. Reaching the bottom, the main trail meets the
0.4-mile access trail to the trailhead at Hotwater Road near Sluder Lane.
Mile 4.2 (11.8) Access Trail and Remains of Soddy Coal Company
Cross Little Soddy Creek on a pole bridge and enter the hub of the historic remains of the Soddy Coal Company. Remains include concrete abutments for the boiler house, cable wench, mule barn, etc. This was the site of the first tunnel-type coal mines in Tennessee, dating to 1866. Seven shafts originated in this area. Pass along the roadbed of the cable ore-car track, which descended along a 7000-foot path to the coal-washing station at the bottom of the valley. Observe the stream cutting its way deep into the valley below. Leave the ore-car track and ascend to cross Hotwater Road.
Mile 4.9 (11.1) Hotwater Road
Hotwater Road is a 1930's WPA project that replaced the old wagon path ascending Soddy Mountain. The road is steep and narrow and there is a lot of traffic at this crossing. Be careful! Although there is a small parking area near the crossing, this is not an official trailhead. Continue up the bluff and round Posey Point. Traverse the slopes above Big Soddy Creek. There is a view of TN-111 descending into the town of Soddy Daisy.
Mile 5.8 (10.2) View of TN-111
Continue through a corner of an old Bowater Paper Company pine plantation. Bowater managed this forest to provide lumber and pulp for making paper. A number of overlooks provide views of the valley.
Mile 6.3 (9.7) Pine Plantation
Traverse a rhododendron field (blanketed pink in Spring). Pass in front of an old coal mine portal with the timbers still visible.
Mile 7.3 (8.7) Old Coal Mine
Round the curve into the valley of Deep Creek. Before descending a rocky slope to Deep Creek, a short side trail leads up to an overlook that gives a view of the rock walls on the far side of the stream.
Mile 7.7 (8.3) Grand Overlook of Canyon
Continue descending into the gorge to the crossing of Deep Creek.
Mile 7.9 (8.1) Deep Creek
Ford the creek (site of a future bridge) and ascend. Round the point above the confluence of Deep and Big Soddy Creeks and reach another view of the valley.
Mile 8.2 (7.8) View of Valley and Confluence
Descend into the valley of Big Soddy and ford the creek near the site of another future bridge.
Mile 8.7 (7.3) Big Soddy Creek
Ascend the bluff and proceed toward the canyon of Board Camp Creek. Cross a tributary of Board Camp on a natural wood pole bridge.
Mile 10.1 (5.9) Natural Wood Pole Bridge
Continue to the base of a rock cliff. Descend, cross a narrow ledge just above the stream, and ascend a set of steep wooden steps.
Mile 10.8 (5.2) Wooden Steps
Proceed about 1/2 mile, then cross two tributaries on pole bridges.
Mile 11.3 (4.7) Two Pole Bridges
After the second bridge, descend gradually toward the bank of Board Camp Creek.
Mile 12.8 (3.2) Board Camp Creek
Proceed upstream, sometimes close to the creek.
Mile 14.1 (1.9) TN-111 Fence Line
Ascend to the TN-111 fence line, cross the fence via a wooden stile, and continue east along the highway embankment for about 1.5 miles. Turn left and cross TN-111 on the Jones Gap Road bridge to Heiss Mountain Road. Turn right and continue along this little-used road roughly parallel to TN-111 for 0.5 miles to the Heiss Mountain Road Trailhead.
Mile 16.0 (0.0) Heiss Mountain Road Trailhead
This is the northern terminus of the Soddy Creek Gorge Section and the southern terminus of the Possum Creek Gorge Section.
Map contributed by Trail Volunteer Don Deakins
SODDY CREEK GORGE SECTION
VOLUNTEERS BUILT A NUMBER OF NATURAL WOOD BRIDGES
Big Dig 2005 Volunteers build a rock staircase above one of
the numerous swimming holes along Board Camp Creek.