Yesterday Tom and I took part of the day for hiking on Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain is a wedge-shaped ridge and Point Park is on the tip of it. The National Park Service also owns the sides of Lookout Mountain for about 15 miles from the tip. When we work in the Visitors Center, we hand out maps of the hiking trails along the sides and recommend hikes to people. Most of the trails originate from Point Park but we have been busy working and had not hiked any of them. So yesterday we decided to explore the trails we recommend (better to know what we are talking about).
We started at Craven’s House, about halfway up the point of the Mountain. Robert Cravens built the house in 1856 and it was used as Confederate Headquarters on Lookout Mountain in the fall of 1863. It was destroyed during the Battle for Lookout Mountain (sorry, you have to wait until November to get that story!) and then Cravens rebuilt it. According to pictures, the rebuilt house looks very similar to the original.
From there we hiked up to Point Park, which is only a mile and a half in distance but half of that distance is up. Tom went up to the Point Park Visitors Center, but I decided to explore the trails around the point (so I didn’t have to climb all those steps). There were monuments placed in the palisades along the point. This was also the place where the Union soldiers climbed to the point to place the US flag after their victory at Lookout Mountain. The posed picture of it, at the time, was as famous as the posed picture of the flag being placed at Iwo Jima is now.
When Tom got back from Point Park we continued on to Sunset Rock. This was a lookout point for the Confederate officers as they watched the Union Army massing in Lookout Valley before the battle. Longstreet and Bragg stood together on this rock and tried to devise some strategy to counter the massed troops. It must have been chilling to see the valley completely full of Union soldiers.
We had a much nicer view from Sunset Rock. We rested on the rock, drank our pop, had a snack, and enjoyed the panoramic valley spread below us. In one direction we could see Chattanooga and the Tennessee River. In the other direction we could see Lookout Valley and Sand Mountain. But we didn’t just look at the big view. Tom also found a spider who had built his web between the branches of a pine tree. Tom took a few pictures of him framed by space.
Weary of climbing up, we headed back down the trail toward Cravens House. The trail is not difficult but it is steep in parts and sometimes narrow. There were a couple of sheer drop-offs that made me nervous. I can’t imagine soldiers climbing up those steep slopes in order to fight. But neither could the Confederates, which is why they were surprised when the Union Army chose to attack that way.
Tom and I had a wonderful time hiking on Lookout Mountain. Now when we recommend a trail to the visitors, we will know what we are talking about!