Chief John Ross Canoe Trek

The Chief John Ross Canoe Trek is a rugged adventure for real Scouts. The Trek covers 12 miles of scenic wilderness beauty and is located on Lookout Creek only a few miles from Chattanooga.

The trip requires 3-5 hours paddling plus lunch and portages. The stream generally does not exceed 30′ in width and is slow moving except after several days of heavy rain. There are places where the stream is shallow and canoes must be lifted around or over obstacles. Sorry, but BSA policy does not allow Cub Scout participation. 

Historical Information

The Trek runs through an area full of history. In pre-historic time Indians lived along its shores and fished and canoed its waters. Hermando DeSota was the first white man to visit the area. He passed through with his men and a herd of pigs in 1540 on his way westward to discover the Mississippi River. About two centuries passed before the white man came again.

In 1815 John Ross, who was part Cherokee Indian, established a trading business, Ross’ Landing, on the Tennessee River. This business was the beginning of the City of Chattanooga.

On November 24, 1863 on the banks of Lookout Creek, near the northern end of Lookout Mountain, an important action in the Civil War started. Major General Joseph Hooker forced a crossing of the creek and fought his way around the northern tip of Lookout Mountain in the famous “Battle Above The Clouds.” Hooker’s Divisions advanced to link up with Generals Thomas and Sherman to lift the Confederate siege of Chattanooga. 

John Ross, whose Indian name “Gu-wis-guwi” meant Large White Bird, was an educated man and a natural leader. During the 1830’s he resisted, by all the legal means he could muster, the United States Government to move the Cherokee Indians West of the Mississippi River. His efforts failed and in 1838 he led his people west on the infamous “Trail of Tears.”

In 1839 he was chosen as Chief of the Cherokee Nation that was west of the Mississippi River.

Program Information

Registration at Reflection will open Friday at 5:00pm. Be sure to provide BSA medical forms A and B. Participants should be BSA tested swimmers. PFD’s required.

Opening ceremony will be held Friday night at Reflection Riding Campsite Area. Cracker barrel and Leader/SPL Orientation will follow. 

Canoes may begin launching at 9am at the Chattanooga Flight Park Landing field. A launch schedule will be made to help with Flight Park traffic. Allow 30 minutes drive time from camp. EVERYONE MUST STAY OFF LANDING FIELD FOR OBVIOUS REASONS! 

When you enter the flight park, parking attendants will direct one vehicle at a time to stay on dirt road to the right of the landing field. Follow around to put in area. Vehicles must not be left at the flight park, so please make arrangements to get drop off vehicles back to camp. Expect 3 – 7 hrs to paddle the trail.

Awards will be given for various things including: best themed boat/crew, most litter gathered on Trek, Scout Spirit, Tee Pee construction, Cooking, etc. This is not a race and boats will not be timed. Prepare your best Native American Themed dish that has been prepared by your youth with your ingredients. Bring materials and construct a Tee Pee in your camp.

Native American interactive class will be held Saturday evening around dinner time. Awards and campfire will be held at 8pm Saturday. Prepare your best Indian Themed skits, songs, stories, etc. Chapel will be held at 9am Sunday morning. Camp tear-down will follow.

Truck/trailer access to creek is available for canoe pick up but must be scheduled at time of registration.

Canoe rentals are available at various locations in our area and through our Council. For Council canoes, contact Our District Program Chair.