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Known for the mountainous regions throughout the state, Tennesse has some great spots to go hang gliding. Learn about the best ones in this expert guide.
Although it might not be one of the first states that come to mind when you’re thinking about planning a hang-gliding trip, Tennessee has some awesome spots that are worth checking out. You won’t get the beaches, oceans, and palm trees that many coastal states have, but you’ll get a unique look at the heartland of America. You can also check out Flying Camp Paragliding and the Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider for a different experience.
The best hang gliding company in Tennessee is Tennessee Tree Toppers. The best locations for gliding are:
- Lookout Mountain Flight Park
- Henson’s Gap
- Chilhowee Recreation Area
Anyone looking for a new adventure, and you want to try something that's both exhilarating and beautiful, then hang gliding is the sport for you! There are many great locations around Tennessee where you can experience the thrill of hang gliding. This post will discuss the most enticing locations to go hang gliding in Tennessee.
FlightNotch was created for gliding enthusiasts like yourself by gliding enthusiasts like yourself. We’ve made it our mission to check out all of the top spots to go hang gliding and want to share our experience with you. As we’re working through our lists of the top spots in each state, this one tackles Tennessee. So if you want to go hang gliding in the Volunteer State, this is the article for you!
Does Tennessee Have Good Hang Gliding Locations?
Before you start planning a trip to Tennessee just to go hang gliding, let's talk about whether or not it's worth the trip. You have to consider three main things for a hang gliding destination: views, weather, and places to launch. Let's look at each of these three in a little more detail and then dive into the actual places you can glide in Tennessee.
As for the views, Tennessee is a pretty diverse state. You've got the mountains in the east, rolling hills in the middle, and flatlands in the west. This means that there are plenty of places with great views for gliding. Unlike some other states in the country, you'll get to see a variety of views depending on where you take off from in the state.
As for the weather, Tennessee generally has good weather for soaring through the skies from spring to fall. The winters can be a bit cold, and the summers can be hot, but overall the weather is pretty good. The mountains in the east tend to have cooler temperatures, so if you want to glide in the winter months, that's probably your best bet.
Finally, there are plenty of places to launch for gliding in Tennessee. Several hills and mountains around the state make it easy to find a place to take off from. We'll get into the specific locations next so you'll see this much more clearly, but Tennessee does not have as many places to go hang gliding as some other states. But it is still worth checking out!
Best Hang Gliding Companies and Launch Sites in Tennessee
At this point, you know a little bit more about whether or not Tennessee is a good place for hang gliding; let's get into the specifics of where you can go in the state. We'll start with the companies that will help you get set up for your hang gliding adventure, and then we'll move on to the best launch sites.
Tennessee Tree Toppers
The best hang gliding company in Tennessee is Tennessee Tree Toppers. They are based out of Dunlap, and they offer instruction to help you learn how to hang glide. On top of that, they also have tandem flights, so you can take to the skies with a pro. The views from their launch site are incredible, and you'll see a lot of hills and mountains once you take to the skies.
There are two main launch sites that this company uses -- Henson's Gap and Whitwell -- which both made this list on their own, so that should give you an idea of how good your experience will be with this company. You'll get to see a lot of different views when you go with Tennessee Tree Toppers, and you'll be in good hands with their experienced pilots.
Tennessee Tree Toppers has five different membership levels to consider: 30 days for $40, annual for $150, 5 years for $600, family passes ($100 for each family member in addition to yourself), and lifetime memberships for $2,000. You can just apply online and pay via PayPal to get started!
Lookout Mountain Flight Park
If you're from the area, then you've probably heard of Lookout Mountain Flight Park. And I know, I know, it's not actually in Tennessee. It's located south of Chatanooga just across the Georgia border, but when you're soaring through the skies from any of its launch sites, you'll likely spend some time in Tennessee, and it's by far the best flight park anywhere close!
Lookout Mountain is so awesome because it's great for experienced pilots as well as novice pilots that want to learn how to fly. They have tandem flights for those that want to experience hang gliding without having to worry about the actual flying part. And they also offer instruction for those that want to get their own hang gliding license.
If you want to do a tandem flight with an instructor, you have two options. For $149, you'll get to fly with an instructor up to 1,500 feet in the air. For a little more ($249), you can go twice as high and see the beautiful scenery from a staggering 3,000 feet in the air. All in all, Lookout Mountain Flight Park is an incredible place to fly, and it's definitely worth checking out if you're anywhere near Chattanooga!
Now that we've looked at the best company and the best flight park let's move on to the best launch sites in Tennessee. And we're going to start with Henson's Gap. Henson's Gap is located in the Cumberland Mountains, and it offers arguably the most incredible views in the state. You'll get to endlessly in every direction when you take off from this site.
The average weather during the flying season is perfect for hang gliding. The spring and summer months are very warm, but not too hot. Much of the fall is also good for hang gliding, but the temperature eventually falls off when winter approaches, and there is a decent amount of snow in the area. So, if you go gliding during the winter, make sure you're bundled up!
Henson's Gap is also conveniently located near some of the most popular cities in Tennessee. It's about an hour away from Chattanooga and Knoxville, and two hours away from Nashville. So if you want a place to go hang gliding that's close to other attractions, Henson's Gap is a great option.
In Chattanooga, you can visit the Chattanooga Zoo, the Tennessee Aquarium, or Lookout Mountain. In Knoxville, you can check out the Sunsphere, the Knoxville Zoo, or the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. And in Nashville, you can tour the Country Music Hall of Fame, visit the Grand Ole Opry, or see a show at the Ryman Auditorium.
Chilhowee Recreation Area
Next up on the list is Chilhowee Recreation Area which is located in the Great Smoky Mountains. This spot is popular among gliders because of the stunning views. On a clear day, you can see pretty much forever and you'll get views of the mountains, valleys, and forests. This spot is a little less known than the other two launch areas here, so you might get some more space to yourself.
During the flying season here at the Chilhowee Recreation Area is perfect for flying the average temperatures are in the mid-70s to the mid-80s. This is perfect for flying because it's not too hot and there's usually a nice breeze. The fall is also a great time to fly here as the leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are cooler.
The Chilhowee Recreation Area is located just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. This spot is great because it's not too far from the city, but it's still in a rural area. There are also lots and lots of things to do in the area besides gliding. You can go hiking, camping, fishing, and more in the recreation area. And there's always something going on in Knoxville. There are museums, restaurants, and events happening all the time.
Rounding off our list of the best launch sites in Tennessee is Whitwell, the other location that the Tennessee Tree Toppers venture to. Whitwell is located in the Sequatchie Valley and it offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. The views are simply incredible, especially during the fall when all of the leaves are changing color.
The weather in Whitwell is also perfect for gliding for much of the year (except during the winter of course!). If you visit in April through October, you can expect average highs in the 70s and 80s. The humidity isn’t too bad either, so you won’t have to worry about being uncomfortable while you’re flying.
Finally, Whitwell is a great location because it’s not too far from some other popular cities and landmarks in Tennessee. It’s about an hour’s drive from Chattanooga and two hours from Nashville. And, of course, there are lots of fun things to do nearby if you want something to do after you land.
Flying Camp Paragliding
I know what you're thinking, this article is supposed to be about hang gliding, right? Well, paragliding is somewhat similar and is one of the other focuses of this site, and I think it's something you'd love to do if you like hang gliding. For a bit more info about paragliding, check out our full article on hang gliding vs paragliding here.
If you want to go paragliding, the best place in Tennessee is Flying Camp Paragliding, also located in Dunlap (just like Tennessee Tree Toppers). Similar to the other company, Flying Camp Paragliding offers tandem flights and instruction. They also have an online shop where you can buy gear if you're interested in getting into the sport.
The views here are just as incredible as they are at Tennessee Tree Toppers, and the staff is friendly and experienced. If you want to try something new (or if you want to fly more than once), paragliding is a great option. Paragliding is a completely different experience than hang gliding, but it's just as fun.
Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider (Good for novices to get a feel)
Okay, the last place on our list here is very different than any of the companies and launch sites discussed in any of these articles on the site. That's because, as we mentioned above, there really aren't many great spots to go hang gliding in Tennessee other than the ones discussed above. But luckily for kids or anyone that's a bit scared to take to the skies, there's a roller coaster ride in Pigeon Forge that will let you dip your toes into the sport: the Rowdy Bear Mountain Glider.
On this ride, you'll experience what it's like to fly without actually jumping off a cliff or anything. You'll strap into a harness and then be pulled up a hill before gliding down the track. It's a great way to get a feel for what it's like to fly without actually having to fly! You'll have handles in front of you to reach out and hold onto, almost as if you were actually flying with a normal hang glider. Again, this is great for kids or anyone who's scared, but I wouldn't travel to Tennessee just for it!
There you have it; those are all of the places to consider going hang-gliding in Tennessee! As you can see, there really aren't that many options. However, the few options that are available are definitely worth checking out for anyone looking for an incredible experience. Be sure to check out Tennessee Tree Toppers or Flying Camp Paragliding if you're interested in hang gliding or paragliding. Happy flying!