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Playful pathways offer continuous exposure to natural processes for young users to explore.
Riverpoint ParkHinshaw GreenwaySouth Creek Linear Park
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga’s unique riverfront story has been recognized internationally, as a series of successful public and private endeavors have helped create new national attractions, inspiring riverfront parks, and new retail, restaurants and housing linked by a delightful riverfront park and trail system. Investments in outdoor recreation continue to foster pride from local residents, reconnect members of the community with nature, while fueling economic development.

The City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County are dedicated to creating a family friendly environment with play opportunities for children and decided to develop playful pockets along the existing South Chickamauga Creek Trail . Play pockets were located using Geographic Information System (GIS) software with input from the Parks and Recreation Departments, which produced a base for the final masterplan (right).

The master plan shows proposed play pocket locations (gold circles) chosen according to best practice guidelines and site constraints. Play pockets clustered near the pathway entrance take advantage of the environmental education value of the woodland setting, which also provides shade.

A large area of the park has been recommended for reforestation (dark green). Chattanooga and Hamilton County, like many communities, are concerned about reducing their carbon footprints. Facilitating a return to a natural state promotes this policy by decreasing energy consuming turfgrass maintenance and adding carbon sequestration with the increase in trees.
Riverpoint Park Master Plan
Master plan shows play pockets which were located in GIS with aerial photography.
Playing Family
A family enjoys a playful spot nestled among the trees.
Play Pocket Signage
Signage provides families fun facts about the natural world while encouraging playful activities within the play pocket.
Riverpoint Park
Riverpoint Park is located on a former industrial site that overlooks the picturesque Tennessee River. It is a prominent destination for downtown cyclists and walkers, school groups, families, and individuals seeking an urban park experience for relaxation or exercise. A portion of the site is wooded. Large areas remain in turfgrass.
Riverpoint Park Play Pocket
This shady play pocket location in the forest brings play in to nature. The pocket is separated from the main pathway by a short distance which, in the future, could be landscaped with low growing vegetation to enhance visual appeal, create a physical buffer, and to provide loose parts for play.
Riverpoint Park Master Plan
The final master plan includes a major looping pathway, instead of the previous dead-end. Secondary pathways were added to provide circulation options for children moving between play pockets and future playground.
Riverpoint Park Play Pathways
“We were so excited when we discovered the addition of play equipment and activities to do along the path. Our four lively children all found something to enjoy that matched their developmental levels. Riverpoint was already an amazing place, but we were wowed by these types of ”extras” that make our children so happy. What a gift that we can get them out of the house and away from the television, engaged with nature, being physically active, and enjoying family time,” expressed Marzi Wiley, child psychologist, and her husband, Ben, pediatrician,in regards to the playful pathway at Riverpoint park.
Program developed in partnership with:
PlayCore Natural Learning Initiative
© 2010 PlayCore, Inc. and Natural Learning Initiative,College of Design,
NC State University.
All rights reserved.
Pathways for Play is a trademark of PlayCore.
Play pockets distributed at regular intervals along specified corridor section with defined entry and destination play pockets. Suitable for many contexts where right-of-way is sufficiently wide and level of family visitorship justifies investment. Play pockets offer a potential upgrade of existing greenway.
My Path - Interactive activities for pathway play
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