The Ritchie Hollow Trail is a great out-and-back trail for experiencing all the things that make us love to get out and hike!
Located in Chattanooga, TN it features gorgeous scenery and you pass a 30-foot waterfall along the way!
The full Ritchie Hollow Trail is 2.7 miles one way to Davis Pond (5.4 mile round trip) and has a 1200 ft. elevation gain. The trail is rated as “moderately strenuous” because it can be steep and rocky at times, but it is definitely do-able if you take your time and set a pace that is comfortable for you.
This is a recording of our walk from the start of the Ritchie Hollow Trail to Davis Pond and then back again.
If you are looking to just check out the waterfall, Blowing Wind Falls is approximately 1.8 miles from the River Canyon Rd trailhead.
The parking area can be found across from the Pot Point Cabin on River Canyon Rd, in Chattanooga TN.
The Ritchie Hollow Trail is a relatively new trail, just opening in January of 2018, and it is built on the Prentice Cooper State Forest. And the trail is one of the few that connects the Tennessee River to the Cumberland Trail (via the Pot Point Loop trail) at the top of the mountain. Thanks to the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and the many others involved in giving us yet another reason to get and enjoy the great outdoors!
Several signs will get you to the trailhead, just above the gravel parking lot.
There is also a trail map like those typically found at trailheads.
We did this hike in January so the Tennessee River was visible for nearly all the way to the falls.
The large trees, great mossy rocks and beautiful ferns give the trail an almost prehistoric feel!
We found ourselves stopping frequently just to gaze back at the sight of the river and the surrounding mountains!
This is a well-built trail with frequent blue blazes to keep you on the trail and the occasional stone steps to help you through the challenging spots.
Just a short distance in, you will come across the first small steam wandering through the rocks towards the bottom of the mountain. This was not a difficult crossing at all, at this time, and there were some stone steps to help make the crossing.
As you continue along the trail, you will notice a steady increase in elevation.
Not too much further up the trail, you come to the second small stream on the trail, Blowing Springs Branch.
This is a bit bigger than the first and is beautiful to see as it works its way through the mossy rocks, pooling here and there before heading down the mountain. And much like the first stream, it was a very easy crossing at the time of our hike.
After crossing the branch, just continue along the trail and enjoy the view.
You will soon pass a half-mile marker on a tree, for those keeping up with their mileage!
The trail slowly ascends the ridge during this section and, no surprise, the rocks and trees are still beautiful!
A little further up the trail, you pass the 1 mile marker on a tree to your right. Congratulate yourself and just keep on moving!
You eventually reach a section of the trail where the ascent becomes much more noticeable!
They have even hacked steps into fallen trees to help you out!
There are plenty of stone steps through this steep section so take your time and choose the approach that works best for you.
And consider the best-footing approach as you encounter any wet areas on steep sections of the trail. There were a few slick spots
After climbing up that steep section, we took a few minutes to catch our breath and once again take in the magnificent vista of the Tennessee River and surrounding mountains! That is definitely a “bonus” of hiking this trail when there are no leaves on the trees!
The trail maintains a steady ascent as it continues up and around the ridge.
You will soon hear the sounds of Blowing Wind Falls and see the “WATERFALL” sign with the arrow pointing to the path to the falls. This is approximately 1.8 miles from the trailhead.
It’s a fairly steep path down to the falls but it is worth it! The path follows along beside a large rock wall and there are quite a few large stones placed to help with footing.
Again, just take your time and plan every step where the trail down to the falls could be a bit slick.
The Blowing Wind Falls cascade 30 feet over a slightly terraced drop and into a pool below!
And when the water level is up, it is beautiful from any angle!
We sat on a large rock below and enjoyed our lunch, listening to the relaxing sounds and watching the mesmerizing flow of the water.
The climb to get back up to the trail isn’t that bad, just take your time and keep an eye out for slick spots.
Leaving the falls, we continued up the Ritchie Hollow Trail. You soon enter a wooded area that’s a bit more level than the prior mile! Not too far along the trail there is another creek crossing but it was not difficult at all, at that time. Just choose your favorite stepping stones!
The trail begins a steady ascent but it is not difficult and includes a switchback. It’s a very pleasant hike and you soon pass the "2 Mile" tree marker.
A bit further up the trail, you come to a great intersection of trails. There’s a post with 5 signs with arrows for Pot Point Loop, Natural Bridge, Snoopers, Ritchie and Davis Pond.
There was a small stream crossing and we passed the 2.5 mile marker on a tree.
And simply enjoyed walking a relatively level trail through the woods!
The Davis Pond Trailhead has an impressive, large, grassy camping area.
And, of course, Davis Pond itself!
And then we headed back down the trail. Making a note to come back in the spring when all of these rhododendrons are blooming!
The Ritchie Hollow Trail is a great day hike that delivers some beautiful sites AND some good exercise! We highly recommend this trail!