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What is an essential aspect of a scenic overlook? It should be obvious: height. There is no shortage of that in Chattanooga. Chattanooga is nestled between stooped southeastern mountains, so it has plenty of places to get high and enjoy the scenery for miles around. There are so many spectacular overlooks in the area that you can enjoy serene sunrises and sunsets, picnics mid-hike, and just regular Tuesday afternoons. The following are some of our favorite scenic overlooks in Chattanooga.
Located on the western side of Lookout Mountain, Sunset Rock is one of Chattanooga’s most iconic viewpoints, drawing hikers, trail runners, and sunset watchers. Sunset Rock is easily accessible from its small parking lot. You can hike of lengths on Lookout Mountain, either via the short steep trail up from Cravens House or as part of a larger loop in the extensive trail network. It doesn’t matter how you get there; Sunset Rock will be waiting for you with an excellent view and a place to rest.
Signal Point and Julia Falls Overlook
From Signal Mountain’s large NPS parking lot, visitors need only walk about 100 yards to get a spectacular view of the river gorge below. If you plan to end your visit here, you will not be disappointed, but genuinely reaching Signal Point requires descending “The Mousetrap,” a set of wooden stairs and rails that take you to the mountain’s edge. You can continue down the trail to make your trip a twofer: Julia Falls Overlook is only about a mile away and offers a view of a majestic waterfall cascading down into the lush gorge.
Ruby Falls Color Blind Viewfinder
Yes, you read that correctly. On Lookout Mountain, the Viewfinder at Ruby Falls allows visitors to see fall’s true colors. By using the unique viewfinder, color-blind people will be able to see a wider range of vibrant, accurate colors. The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development selected Ruby Falls to be one of the 12 scenic overlooks in the state to install this feature.
Signal Point offers a large slab at Edward’s for resting or sunbathing with a great view of the river valley and mountains. Edward’s Point is part of the Signal Mountain trail network and is accessible by foot, bike, or ATV. The most common access point is an ATV trail that winds two miles from a pull-off on Edward’s Point Road to the overlook. If you go early in the morning or on a weekday, you might have the place to yourself.
Snooper’s Rock is a tucked away overlook deep inside Prentice Cooper State Forest in Chattanooga. You can find a panoramic view of a unique S-curve in the river as it winds through a secluded section of the gorge after parking in the lot. You can also incorporate Snoopers into a 10-mile hike, Mullins Cove Loop, which takes you through the mountaintop state forest.
Cloudland Canyon Overlook
A legendary view of Cloudland Canyon State Park. The trail follows the canyon rim and provides endless views. The slight descent to the main overlook will give you the park’s best idea. Cloudland Canyon has a small day-use fee and campgrounds for overnight camping, making it the perfect place to spend the weekend exploring the clouds.
Stringer’s Ridge has several miles of trails popular for trail running and mountain biking with locals. One overlook in the park provides:
- A spectacular view of the city.
- Displaying its unique architecture and bright colors.
- The Tennessee River.
You have to hike about a mile to the overlook from the parking lot on Spears Avenue. The wooden deck at Stringer’s Ridge makes it an excellent place for picnics or watching the sunrise.
Lookout Mountain has many attractions, including Point Park. Besides offering breathtaking views of Chattanooga and the Lookout Mountain Battlefield below, the 10-acre Civil War memorial park is excellent for history buffs and a great educational resource. There are paved paths throughout the grounds, which offer views of several monuments, historical tablets, and confederate artillery positions. On the river banks below, you can see the fascinating history of Moccasin Bend and Civil War signaling at the nearby Ochs Memorial Observatory. There is a $7 entrance fee for adults.
lookout Mountain Flight Park
Look down from a hang glider for a great view, but you don’t have to strap yourself to a giant kite to see what hang gliding is all about. The flight park offers a spectacular view of Chattanooga’s mountains in the distance and the chance to see dozens of gliders flying in the sky. From the roadside parking on Lookout Mountain, visitors will have the best view of gliders launching from the ramp or being towed up by planes from the valley below. Visitors can watch a continuous stream of gliders circling, spinning, swooping, and swerving overhead during perfect weather conditions. This is an excellent place for an evening picnic or a quick side trip from town since hiking isn’t necessary.
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