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Day trippin’ to Lake Winnepesaukah

Lake Winnepesaukah as seen from Alpine Way.

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie
Photos by Melissa Lowrie

  Melissa Lowrie

While August marks back to school for the Canoe Kids, there’s still time for a quick day trip for some late summer amusement.

Lake Winnepesaukah has been a fun, family destination since 1925. The amusement park is packed with nostalgia for adults and entertainment for kids. It’s old-school and proud of it. With roller coasters, bumper cars, plenty of carnival games and a water park to cool the troops ... it’s the perfect way to end summer break.

We set out early on a weekday to beat the heat and the crowds. I purchased tickets online, but found out we’d still need to wait in line at the gate. (The pre-purchase saved $2 per ticket at $29.95 each.)

The first order of business was, naturally, the best ride on the property. Designed and engineered especially for Lake Winnepesaukah by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the wooden coaster dubbed the Cannon Ball, debuted in 1967.

  The Canoe Kids loved the water slides at SOAKya.

The classic roller coaster reaches speeds of up to 50 miles per hour and will pull you off your seat during the minute and a half thrill-ride. Three of the four kids I was with rode the Cannon Ball, with varying reviews (the 8-year-old opted out). Lots of squealing and smiles, though, so that’s a good thing.

At some point, cameras were installed on the coaster, so thrill-seekers can see their faces in a photo after the ride.

The midweek morning turned out to be a great time to ride the rides. Lines were short and the park stayed cool. We hit the Tilt-a-Whirl, Boat Chute, Matterhorn, Alpine Way and some others, all before lunch. Don’t miss out on Alpine Way; it’s a colorful chairlift that goes over the lake. It’s a fun break from the thrill rides and gives you a bird’s eye view of the park.

There are plenty of places to buy food and drinks at the park, but I opted for a picnic. There are pavilions with picnic tables as far as the eye can see, so seating is not an issue. Coolers are welcome in the amusement park, but not the water park.

cklakewinnie   cklake
Per the website, ‘The Boat Chute is the oldest mill chute water ride in the United States according to the National Amusement Park Historical Assoc."   Bumper cars are enjoyed by young and old.

SOAKya Water Park is a new edition to Lake Winnepesaukah, only in its second season. Admission to the water park is included in the ticket, so plan accordingly and bring a bathing suit and towel.

The colorful, shiny water park sits at the back of the property. It has lots of slides, a lazy river, and plenty for the younger kids. This was a great afternoon treat when the temps hit the mid-90s. Apparently, others had the same idea as the water park became increasingly crowded as the day wore on. The kids weren’t bothered by the masses and had a great time.

  The Cannon Ball roller coaster made its debut in 1967.

A reader once told me more travel time to a destination was a good thing. That said, it’s every bit of an hour and a half (or two hour) drive to Lake Winnepesaukah from Big Canoe. Just south of Chattanooga, it was easy to get to and well-marked with directional signs from I-75.

The amusement park shows its age, but is clean and well-maintained. The water park looked fresh-from-the-package new and was immaculate. My group had a fun day, but according to them, SOAKya was better than the amusement park.

For my party of five, I paid $150 for tickets, nothing for parking and our packed lunch. A heck of a deal for a full day. Check the website for hours of operation; they are always closed on Tuesdays and hours vary ( Lake Winnepesaukah is open May through September.

If you can’t make the trek to Lake Winnepesaukah, take your Canoe Kids on another adventure. Here’s to another summer in the books.

Lake Winnie is near Chattanooga, just right for a fun day trip with the kids.

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