View of the Tennessee River Gorge from above Suck Creek. (Photo: Andrew Dodson)

This year’s Pangorge adventure race, which takes place in the Tennessee River Gorge Nov. 18, will be different from previous years’ events.

Participants in this year’s event, called Pangorge: The Suck, are advised to expect the unexpected as they navigate the hidden hollers of Suck Creek.

“The course will take competitors deep into the wilderness surrounding Suck Creek through a course that will include orienteering, map reading, flatwater paddling, canyoneering, scrambling, trail running, mountain biking and navigation,” said Andy Dodson, one of the race’s primary organizers.


There will be no teams, but traveling with other racers is encouraged because of the difficulty of the course.

Participants can enter the race either by invitation or application.

The challenging 9-mile paddling leg begins at the mouth of Suck Creek and follows the Tennessee River upstream to circle Williams Island. Upon finishing the paddle, boats will be left at River Canyon Adventures, located just downstream from the mouth of Suck Creek.

Canyon running
After completing the paddle, participants will canyoneer their way up to the waterfall at Sulfur Canyon of Suck Creek (2 miles) before heading back down the mountain for the bike portion of the race.

Mountain biking
The challenging mountain bike trail will push participants to their limits. Riders on this secret single-track trail (10 miles) should be prepared for the unexpected.

The race will both start and finish at River Gorge Retreats, currently under construction on the mountainside near the mouth of Suck Creek. The venue will soon serve the area with a 200-person-capacity wedding/event pavilion, four mini-cottages with all the amenities and a garden providing amazing views of the Tennessee River Gorge.

The waterfall at Sulphur Canyon. (Photo: Andrew Dodson)

A vision for the gorge
“The race is much more of a true adventure race than previous years’ and is also a bit of proof of concept for future Pangorge races,” Dodson said. “Our goal is to use Pangorge to get the community excited about more trails in Prentice Cooper.”

The vision for Pangorge began when Dodson and his wife bought 30 acres of property near the corner of River Canyon Road and Suck Creek Road.

Since then, they have been gathering support through business partners and neighbors to acquire more land and put all the pieces together for the planning and development of the property as a hub for all things eco-recreation.

“My hope is that our property could someday be a trailhead, eco-resort and headquarters for hikers, cyclists, mountain bikers, climbers, paddlers and all other outdoor enthusiasts,” Dodson said. “The potential in the gorge is huge, and we have more ideas than we have hours in the day to pursue them.”

Referring to the proposed development of more recreational trails in and around the Tennessee River Gorge, Dodson said, ”I believe it is an inevitable path that will be forged by the growing community of outdoor enthusiasts that call Chattanooga home.”