By Abigail Baker

Driving nine hours to Chattanooga, Tennessee at 12 Midnight with nothing but Cheetos and a Spotify playlist is a better idea than you would think.

The idea of white water rafting, hiking and cliff diving drove this three day trek, and I quickly discovered that the local, off-the-trail activities took more than a google search to experience.

If you are courageous enough, $25 can get you a bunk bed in Chattanooga’s most laid back hostel, the En Root House. Filled with international travelers, forgotten items and elaborate life advice, the En Root House is a good place to end up after a long journey.

When my group of Tampa area friends and I showed up eager to join the touristy lines at Ruby Falls, a few local pointers and eye rolls lead us to less populated areas of Tennessee.

Signal Mountain – A few days is not nearly enough time to fully explore Chattanooga’s closest mountain, but there is two spots that cannot be ignored.

Mabbit Spring Trail is a convergence of two rolling springs, and this creates a sprawl of falling water, boulders and slippery rocks. An adventurous traveler may want to scale these rocks up the stream. However, be careful. I can tell you from personal experience that a slip into rocky, chilly water is not fun.
The source of the water at Mabbit Spring comes from a waterfall creatively coined Falling Water Falls. With an overlook of the rising and falling mountains, this little known spot is almost impossible to find. I had to stop and ask about six natives until I found it.

While it is about a scenic, three hour drive from Chattanooga, Big Bear Rafting in the Cherokee forest is a must. Spotted with relaxing streams and sheer terrifying white water greatness, you’ll probably fall in.
Food – As carb loving cheapskate, this trip had me happily bloated off of ten dollars.

I have never seen so many biscuits. The south has biscuits for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Slapped with honey, bacon and fried chicken, and even avocado, they cannot be overlooked.

If you’re driving, the Flying Biscuit Café has multiple locations in the Atlanta area. The Maple Street Biscuit Company is also a quick stop and is located right in the middle of downtown Chattanooga. Top your biscuit with as many calories as possible and throw in a cinnamon roll for extra authenticity.

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