Bridgeport is a city located alongside the Tennessee River, on the opposite shore from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Its past as a steamboat transportation hub died when the railroad came to town, and today Bridgeton is an industrial center surrounded by natural resources that provide a pawrfect destination for you and your fur-pup. The Cumberland Plateau and Sand Mountain are nearby, as are a variety of parks just made for hiking and exploring. And should your pooch require medical care while in the Bridgeport area, rest easy knowing there is a veterinary hospital in town with 4 more in nearby Stevenson and other communities.
The dog-friendly Russell Cave National Monument is located in Bridgeport. At 7.5 miles long, it is one of the deepest caves in the country, and is full of ancient artifacts that portray life in prehistoric times. A boardwalk along a brook leading to the cave features sightings of birds and other wildlife, and the vantage point is impressive as you get nearer to the yawning cave mouth. Your furry buddy is welcome to join you on the grounds on leash, except in the visitor center. Just off the boardwalk is the beginning of a paved 1.5-mile hiking trail that will beckon to you with its lush greenery and the anticipation of meeting some interesting wildlife. In the fall, snakes abound, so be sure to watch the path ahead of you and keep Fido well-leashed. Also, bring plenty of water and wear proper shoes because the trail can be steep and rigorous. After your walk, it’s time to chow down at one of the picnic areas under stands of trees or throw down a blanket and relax. Furtastic!
Whatever your reason for being in the Bridgeport
area, you and your pooch are sure to find plenty to do!
The town of Bridgeport is where you’ll find the William Jones Reservation, a popular park with locals that is fast becoming a destination for growing numbers of tourists as well. A quiet, laid -back place, the park features a playground and lots of open space for strolling and playing or just lolling. It also features walking paths where you and your leashed fur-bud can amble, keeping an eye out for the abundant wildlife. With loads of free parking and drinking water provided, this is an ideal place to bring your pup for a getaway from daily life. Bring a book and a cup of coffee and relax on a grassy spot or bench and share an al fresco meal with Fido. In addition to William Jones, Bridgeport houses 4 other reservation parks, including Johnson, Thorn, Thomas Jones and Woods, all featuring similar dog-friendly amenities and activities. Arf!
The town of Stevenson lies just to the southwest of and downriver from Bridgeport, and is home to the Stevenson City Park, located on a peninsula reaching out into Crow Creek. The park features a playground, swimming pool and other activities, but your leashed fur-pup will be most interested in accompanying you on a trail walk that loops within the park and along the shore and connects to the dog-friendly City Park Campground where you can park your RV or pitch your tent and stay awhile! The path also continues out of the park to the north and south, so there’s plenty of room to wander with the pooch. Put in your boat, canoe or kayak at the boat/fishing dock and take your fur-buddy for a ride on the creek, maybe even an offshore swim! Arf!
Just over the border to Tennessee is the town of South Pittsburg, and it’s where you’ll find the South Pittsburg Municipal Park in the City Center neighborhood. The park, also known as River Park, features a playground along with walking paths that meander through the park and along the shoreline of the Tennessee River area known as Battle Creek. Its open fields and copses of trees provide ample space for play and shady relaxation as well. Bring a picnic lunch and share it with Fido under a tree or just hang out with your furry bestie on the riverbank and watch the boat traffic. This is a small gem in the midst of the city.
The Franklin-Marion State Forest lies to the north of Bridgeton in Sherwood, Tennessee on the Cumberland Plateau. Totaling almost 8,000 acres, the forest is crisscrossed with many dog-friendly trails that lead to furtastic vistas. Covering about 22 miles round-trip, the moderately difficult trails include creek crossings and some large boulders to go over or around, but the opportunity to get close to some spectacular falls and view the creek valley from high above makes the trek worthwhile. Most of the trails are looped and intersecting, so customizing your walk from a couple of hours to a whole day or longer is possible. There are no amenities in the forest, so be sure to bring all you need, including drinking water for you and your pup.
The Mountain Goat Trail in Sewanee, Tennessee is so named because of its steep ascent on its asphalt rail-trail. Once a railroad corridor used to move coal out of the mountains, it follows Highway 41, and links Sewanee with Monteagle, 5 miles away, traversing woodlands intermittently with business districts. A section with lots of wildflowers near Monteagle also provides glimpses of small mammals and birds soaring overhead looking for lunch among the flora and fauna. Please keep Fido leashed for safety, and be aware you may encounter bicyclists, in-line skaters and wheelchair hikers along the way. While you’re in Sewanee, be sure to pop over to the Blue Chair Café and Tavern where there is sure to be an outside table waiting for you and your pooch! Chow down on sandwiches, salads and a beer or soft drink. Bone Appetit!