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Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Lookout Mountain seems like a whole different world. It is a stop on many Chattanooga tourists' schedule.
Most all of the visitors to Lookout Mountain only see the three most famous (advertised) attractions. All three fit nicely into the "kitschy" category, and there are varying opinions of all three.
With a 72.7 degree grade at the top, the Inlcine is toted as the steepest paasenger railway in the world. From the lower station it barrels up the side of the mountain to the top station where one can check out the spectacular views as well as the gears that pull the trolleys up. Click here to read reviews (average rating 2.5 stars).
First discovered by Leo Lambart in 1928, Ruby Falls now serves thousands of visitors a year. After taking a elevator ride deep into the mountain, visitors walk through the 1/2 mile long cave to the 145 foot waterfall. Questions have been raised about the waterfall and cave formation's validity, although the Ruby Falls management denies such claims. Click here to read reviews (average rating 2 stars).
This half mile trail waves its way through gardens and geological features on the side of the mountain. Click here to read reviews (average rating 4.5 stars).If you'd like to visit a natural area much like Rock City but undeveloped, check out the day trips inside page and scroll down to "Rocktown".
Most Chattanooga visitors only visit a few attractions on Lookout Mountain: Ruby Falls, Rock City , and the Incline. Here are a few other cheaper, less crowded, and often more worthwhile attractions that you can see and visit. These are the places that make Lookout Mountain truly special.
Point Park and Sunset Rock
Perched on the very peak of the mountain is Point Park, one of the most important battle sites of the Civil War as well as some of the best views in Chattanooga . After the Battle of Chickamauga and during the siege of Chattanooga, Confederate soldiers had positions atop Lookout Mountain. Union troops attacked and carried the position and in turn won the battle, which was one of the deciding factors in the fate of Chattanooga and the entire war.
Today a memorial stands in honor of the " Battle above the Clouds", and for three dollars or so visitors can stroll around the couple acres, see the Civil War cannons, and admire the spectacular views. Another much less known bluff also steeped in history is only a two minute car ride or a two mile trail away, Sunset Rock. This is where Confederate generals observed Union ranks moving through Lookout Valley . There is no charge and seldom many people. Often rock climbers are testing their abilities off the side of the bluff, which is about a hundred feet high.
Both Point Park and Sunset Rock are within walking distance of the Incline.
Chattanooga Nature Center
If you love nature and scenic beauty you should check out the Nature center when you visit Lookout Mountain. They have a small museum area, reptile exhibit, nature trails, a long boardwalk over wetland and an animal habitat (bald Eagle, bobcat, red wolves, etc.). All centered around native area wildlife and plants. Bird watching is easy here and you'll run out of film if you're not careful. Once you get done walking around the nature areas get in your car and drive down the 300-acre arboretum, botanical garden and historic driving trail. Very pretty all year long, but not to be missed during the spring and fall seasons. The Nature Center is located on the route to Ruby Falls at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
Cost of admission to Reflection Riding is $6 per car, or visitors may purchase an individual, joint admission ticket to Reflection Riding AND the Chattanooga Nature Center for $6/adults or $3/children (ages 4 to 11) and seniors (65+).
Lulu Lake Land Trust
About five miles down the road from the Incline is Lula Lake , a private property that is open to the public on the first and last weekend of the month. While it doesn't have the history of the parks further up the mountain, it make up for it with a chestnut grove, bluff looking east of the mountain, Lula Falls, and of course Lula Lake .
The entrance is poorly marked, but once down the gravel road one can park their car and see what the land trust has to offer. Most people hike, although one can mountain bike up to the bluff then coast all the way back to the parking lot, passing all the major sights.
The Natural Bridge
While Rock City is famous for it’s geological features, here’s one that one can visit for free. It was heavily visited through the 1800’s and early 1900 ‘s, and was even owned by a Spiritualists group for some time. One could even find it on the postcards. Later on, though, other commercial attractions drew in the crowds, and now the Bridge is all but forgotten, although any one can visit it if they can find it.
Ajc.com gives these directions to the park: intersection of North Bragg Avenue and Sunset Road. From the base of the mountain, take Scenic Highway south . At the top of the mountain, Scenic Highway intersects North Bragg. Turn right and go two blocks. The entrance is on the left at a rock known as the Old Man of the Mountain. There is no parking at the park. Parking is available at Commons City Park ; turn left on Sunset Road and go about 0.5 miles west.
Lookout Mountain Flight Park
It is fun to sit and watch hang gliders jump off the side of Lookout Mountain and begin to soar above the clouds. A nice view becomes gorgeous when you throw in hang gliders. Great photo spot. If you have the guts, you yourself can try your hand at hang gliding. They also have ultra lights and can fly you around in those as well. What a great way to see Lookout Mountain, by soaring above and around it!
The Flight Park has everything you need to know listed on their website. Click here
Lookout Mountain Parkway
This scenic drive atop Lookout Mountain is often traveled by visitors to Chattanooga, but only for a very short distance and most visitors miss all the parkway has to offer.The Lookout Mountain Parkway spans three states as it stretches across Lookout Mountain from Gadsden, Alabama to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Within it’s 93-miles, one will find waterfalls, canyons, scenic brow vistas, unique towns and villages, state and national parks and preserves and many more natural wonders.
This is not to be missed and you should really save a whole day or even better two to travel the entire parkway.
You can find out more info on most of the places to see along the drive here. There is also some interesting info here as well.
During the fall the worlds longest yard sale stretches down Lookout Mountain Parkway and it is recommended to go if you are in town when they have it.
International Towing Museum
On your way down Broad street at the foot of Lookout Mountain you will see The International Towing and Recovery Museum.
For some a museum about towing may not seem to very interesting, but once inside your sure to change your tune! This is a nice museum that has excellent historical and informative displays about the history of towing in this area. You won't believe how interesting it really is.
Check out the website for all the info you need here.