I've been doing some explorations on Lookout Mountain as of late, driving there and back from the other side of town several days in a row just because I'm rather enthralled with the place. The driving on the sides of the mountain is pleasant, and the residential neighborhoods on top are lovely for touring. I've been mountain biking and hiking in the national military park, trying the Guild Trail greenway, hiking from Cravens House to Point Park on the Recovery Act funded switchback trail, and trying the recently finished Mountain Beautiful Trail. The mountainsides' irreplicable ethereality invariably transports me to a strange timeless state where I expect a troop of Union soldiers to rush at me from behind a boulder or trench any moment. And the boulders--fallen pieces of the bluffs above--are big. Interesting landmarks. Fun to climb.
And (besides Cravens House and Sunset Rock) I haven't even been visiting the sites of the park. Mainly Point Park, Glen Falls, and Skyuka Spring. I've been spending evenings on Sunset Rock reading for several hours. It's a nice place to meet people or watch the sunset. Its one of my most favourite places. The rock is a clear peninsula pushing out from the plateautop, offering sweeping views of the mountainside in three directions. Though the view directly ahead is somewhat marred by a Wal-Mart and other valley trash, to the north the green of Moccasin Bend, the hills opposing it to the west, and the meandering river are captivating, and to the south there are fields, a river valley, and quarry. Let alone the history of the spot and pleasant breezes.
The Mountian Beautiful Trail actually passes *underneath* the Incline Railway. It was fun to sit down and read there a bit and wave at bewildered tourists ascending and descending. Between that, passing under again on the Hardy Trail, then driving under it (six foot clearance) on Shingle Road, I almost felt like I had ridden it without actually riding it. And for none dollars! Ha! It is pretty expensive. But kind of cool I guess. They could make it a lot cooler by returning to a little history and making it the beginning of a whole transportation system for the mountain instead of just "Okay kids, we're at the top! Oh. I guess we just go back down now."
But I can say that by visiting all these backwoods spots I felt like I was getting an even better experience than the people paying almost fifty dollars for the main attractions. Then again, I've visited all three of them multiple times and so can't really talk.
I also checked out the picnic area on Sanders Road. The road itself is a short pleasant drive, and the picnic area is very large and includes two different bathhouses. It looks just like one of the picnic areas you'd find in the Smokies. And I expect it's usually deserted. Probably a must do, a picnic there I mean.
Lookout Mountain Parkway is real pretty driving, too.