Overlook Trail

The Overlook Trail is the easiest trail at Cloudland Canyon State Park, but not without some amazing views.

The trail is accessed by the West Rim parking lot. The trail heads to the right, away from some of the harder trails like the Waterfalls Trail and the West Rim Loop Trail. The trail hugs the edge of the mountain rim, which allows for some great views.

The trail is an easy, flat gravel path, which goes on for one half mile, before turning back to complete the full mile.

When we went a few weeks ago, Winter Falls was heavily flowing, which was a beautiful sight. Hemlock Falls was also easy to spot below.

Following the path, there are two main overlooks to check out, which are accessed by walking down stone steps.

I enjoyed these overlooks because it offered a view of the canyon that we had not seen before. We were able to see little sections of Sitton’s Gulch, which we had hiked in the winter time.

I think hiking enthusiasts might want to overlook the Overlook Trail (ha) for more strenuous hikes, but I think this trail is well worth it.

Overlook Trail_1
A view of the canyon with Winter Falls in front.
Overlook Trail_6
Close up of Winter Falls.
Overlook Trail_9
Sitton’s Gulch is at the bottom of the gorge. We hiked down there in January.
Overlook Trail_14
Overlook Trail_16

A half-day in Trenton, GA

Trenton, Georgia is the county seat of Dade County, on the border of Tennessee and Hamilton County. I work in Trenton.

It is a rural county, and the town of Trenton is small, but there are some nice shops and good places to eat. Coupled with a visit to Cloudland Canyon State Park, you can spend about half a day there.

All of my favorite places to eat are all located on the square on Main Street. Corner Coffee has good soups and sandwiches. I ate there this past weekend and I got the grilled cheese sandwich with loaded potato soup. Lalitos is a Mexican restaurant. My favorite meal there is the #15 dinner plate: one chicken tamale, one beef taco and rice. Their chips and salsa are amazing! Thatchers is a BBQ restaurant. Their pulled pork sandwiches are awesome!

IMG_1258
The inside of Corner Coffee. The owner is really nice and enjoys chatting with everyone while waiting for their food.
IMG_1259
Indoor dining at Corner Coffee is currently closed, but expected to open again soon.

The historical courthouse is in the middle of the square. It is empty right now, but it is a pretty building and makes for some nice pictures.

On the other side of the square is a small park with a gazebo. A few times Derek and I have grabbed a meal to go and then have eaten it in the park.

IMG_1687
The Dade County Historical Courthouse.
IMG_1688
This park is located near the square and is right across from where I work.

If you like history, you can check out the American Legion’s War Memorial Museum, which is a great collection from local veterans. There are some really interesting items in the collection, including an original Revolutionary War drum, and bullets found at the various Civil War sites. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, and by appointment.

IMG_1611
The American Legion War Memorial Museum.

Cloudland Canyon is just a few miles south of Trenton. One of the trail heads for Sittons Gulch is actually in a residential neighborhood of Trenton. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can just enjoy the view at the overlook, and check out the visitor’s center. There are a few different hiking trails to choose from, ranging from an easy 1 mile, to strenuous. I have written about Cloudland Canyon multiple times. Here is the most recent article.

There are also some antique shops scattered around the town, if that’s your type of thing. If you’re heading back home to the Chattanooga area, take Highway 11 north and stop at the Wildwood Depo, a great little antique shop with a unique collection of items.

IMG_1266
The Wildwood Depot.

Little Winters

We are constantly learning something new.

Today I learned about the Little Winters of Tennessee. Almost all of the meteorologists were calling the next few days a “redbud winter.” I had no clue what they were referring to.

Apparently Tennessee (and some other states) have what are called little winters, or cold snaps. We are getting a cold snap at the end of this week, and we might even see some snow!

The redbud winter is going to occur later this week because the redbud trees are blooming. The redbud winter is the first of the little winters. They go as follows:

Redbud Winter, Dogwood Winter, Locus Winter, Blackberry Winter, Whippoorwill Winter and Cotton Britches Winter.

The terms are coined because of the things that are in bloom in the time, or for example, when you can first hear the Whippoorwill birds, or when it’s time to put your wool away and wear your cotton britches!

The farmers used to track the five different little winters to ensure it was not too early to plant crops. Isn’t that interesting?

IMG_1704
The redbuds are blooming right now. Time for a “redbud winter.”

West Rim Loop Trail

This past Sunday we hiked the 4.8 mile West Rim Loop Trail at Cloudland Canyon. This is our third hike we have done at Cloudland Canyon.

This is considered a “lollipop” trail, because it is sort of in the shape of one. The first and last mile are the same, you retrace your steps, and the middle miles are a loop.

I usually research hikes before we set out, and most people suggested to do the loop clockwise. This is so that the first half of the loop is in the forest, and you save the best views along the edge of the rim for last.

The trail follows the Waterfalls Trail at the beginning, so there were quite a few people, but as soon as the trail split off, we didn’t see many people.

This trail starts out by following Daniel’s Creek, and there is a bridge crossing. Toward the beginning of the trail we were able to see the top of Cherokee Falls, which was neat to see, because we have seen it from the bottom, part of the Waterfalls Trail.

West Rim Loop Trail2

On the first part of the trail, we came to a neat out cropping of rocks. It was around this area that we caught site of a large woodpecker. I am sad that I was not able to get a picture.

West Rim Loop Trail19

Another highlight of this trail was getting to see the town of Trenton down below. I work in Trenton. With the help of my camera zoom lens, we were able to find the town’s square, and my office building.

West Rim Loop Trail36
West Rim Loop Trail37

Spring is definitely coming, and I cannot wait until it is in full force. The pollen makes me sneeze, but I was quite happy to see the trees in bloom.

West Rim Loop Trail15

This hike in particular made me feel a little homesick for Pennsylvania. There were certain view points of the canyon that looked exactly like the view point areas of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, located near our previous home.

West Rim Loop Trail25

We started out with coats, because it was only in the 40s, but quickly warmed up and we put the coats in the backpack. I am looking forward to ditching the outer layer completely, and not lugging the extra weight!

I enjoyed this trail, but I was quite tired by the end. We tend to keep picking hikes where the ending is hard because of a steep ascend back up the mountain!

With the addition of this hike, we have hiked approximately 22.5 miles so far this year!

Hike to Mushroom Rock and Suck Creek suspension bridge

We have hiked our longest hike to date, 5.75 miles. This was purely by accident, thanks to some poorly marked trails.

Here was our original plan: Start out at Shackleford Ridge Park, in Signal Mountain, and catch a trail that would take us to Mushroom Rock. From the rock, we would take the Cumberland Trail down to the Suck Creek suspension bridge. Once at the bridge, we would turn around and come back the way we came. This was supposed to be maybe a four mile hike at most.

We should have known that we would get lost, because there are few maps with the trail from Shackleford Ridge to Mushroom Rock. We could not use our Google Maps GPS to make sure we were staying on the correct trail. Once at Mushroom Rock, it is labeled more clearly.

I tried to read up as much as I could on the trail, and took a screen shot of the one map I did find, which in the end got us more lost than anything, I think. The issue is that there are multiple trails and unmarked paths that cross. Which one to take? We did not know.

We ended up walking about a mile, including backtracking a few times, before we got on the right trail. However, we did see some nice things along the way, and we got plenty of extra exercise in, so we’re not really complaining. When we saw that first sign for Mushroom Rock, we were relieved!

Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_6
A little stream crossing that was fun, but we technically didn’t have to do, seeing as we were lost at this point, but we didn’t know it yet.
Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_8
Finally on the right path!

Mushroom Rock is a really neat formation. I had seen pictures of it, but it’s still impressive when seeing it in person for the first time.

Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_13
Mushroom Rock.
Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_15

From there we had to jump on the Cumberland Trail, where we got lost again! We were on the Cumberland Trail, but we quickly realized we were going in the opposite direction that we wanted. Thankfully a nice couple passing by pointed us in the right direction. We had gone to the left, but we had wanted to go right, behind the rock.

From there to the Suck Creek Suspension bridge, it is a switch back trail that heads down into the gorge.

Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_20
We saw some melting ice in a shaded spot on the switchback part of the trail.

We stopped at a large suspension bridge, that we had all to ourselves. Just before the bridge, there is a primitive hike-in camping site, with a few fire pits and benches made out of logs. We both decided we would love to camp here. It would definitely be easier since we know now the right way to go!

Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_24
Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_25
View from the suspension bridge.
Mushroom Rock and Suck CreekMushroom Rock and Suck Creek0_34

The hike back up the gorge was tiring! We had to stop many times to catch our breath. Once past Mushroom Rock, we got lost again! It was the same issue as last time, too many intersections with too many crossed paths. But we will remember for next time! We were thankful to get back to the car and rest our legs!

Two favorite restaurants

We have “rediscovered” two restaurants in our area.

When I say rediscovered, I mean that we ate at these places once before, before the pandemic. Then we stuck closer to home, and over the year, forgot how much we enjoyed our meals at these restaurants.

The first restaurant is Home Folks in Soddy-Daisy. Like the name implies, this is a casual setting, and the food reminds you of a good home cooked meal.

I enjoy the overall feeling of this place. The tables are covered with blue and white checkered table cloths, and there is old fashioned country-like décor.

This used to be a buffet-style restaurant. They have done away with the buffet, but they still serve all of the same great dishes. Now, you pick which food you want off the menu, and the waiter will bring all of the dishes to your table. You can eat as much or as little of all the dishes as you want.

Some of my favorites here are the pork and kraut, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. There is also dessert too, with choices like banana pudding and different kinds of pie. Too be honest, I am usually too full after eating here to manage any dessert!

The buffet type food is the main staple, but they also have a small menu that changes each day.

IMG_1402
IMG_1399
I love the country-type atmosphere!
IMG_1401
I love the look of this stove!
IMG_1398
Yum! So many choices at Home Folks!

The second restaurant is 1885 Grill, in the St. Elmo neighborhood. This is a local chain, with two other locations.

The first time we ate here, I ordered on the boring side and got a chicken sandwich, but it was delicious, regardless.

This time, we came on a Saturday, and got to experience their weekend brunch. We were both very happy with our meals.

Derek got the biscuits and gravy with eggs. I have always been leery of biscuits and gravy, and he let me try a small taste. I liked it!

I got a breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, toast and grits. I love grits, and these were without a doubt the best grits I have ever had. They were nice and creamy, and flavorful too.

We went for brunch again, quite soon after our first time experiencing the brunch menu. This time I got the biscuits and gravy with eggs, with a side of grits, and he got the Belgian Waffle Bananas Foster, with a side of bacon. Another thumbs up from both of us.

There are so many other dishes on their menu I would like to try, such as the shrimp and grits (I know I will love the grits part!) and their gumbo.

Plus, when it gets warmer out, they have a nice outdoor seating area, which is right across the street from the Incline Railway.

IMG_1471
The outdoor seating at 1885 Grill is really nice, in warmer temperatures of course.
IMG_1465
IMG_1470
Brunch at 1885 Grill is quickly becoming a favorite!

Stringer’s Ridge

Last weekend we hiked around Stringer’s Ridge Park, which is close to downtown. It is a ridge that overlooks the city.

This is definitely not a hike to do if you’re looking to get away from it all and by fully immersed in nature. You will hear road noise and be quite close to some houses. But, it will do in a pinch if you want to get outside and get some exercise.

There are quite a few trails, some of them shared by bicyclists. The trails offer elevation changes and twists and turns.

The highlight is the overlook on the Cherokee Trail, which has a good view of downtown and the bridges over the river.

Some of the trails we took were the Cherokee Trail, the Double J, (which is a part of the bigger Blue Loop) and the short path to Old Baldy, which is the highest point of the ridge.

However, don’t do what we did, and don’t park by the tunnel on Cherokee Blvd! That particular entryway has been marked as closed for a long time. We have seen people’s photos on social media and reviews, so we knew the park wasn’t actually closed. So we went over the closed gate. We soon came to a part of the trail that was washed out! So it’s closed for a good reason! However, some people probably did the same that we did, so there was a worn path to follow down and around. Parking is available in different sections, so I’d advise to park somewhere else and avoid that section of the trail.

We hiked about three miles total, and it’s nice to know that there’s a place nearby if we don’t feel like driving further.

Stringer's Ridge2
Stringer's Ridge11
Stringer's Ridge10
Stringer's Ridge17
Stringer's Ridge18
An old structure we came across on the Blue Loop trail.
Stringer's Ridge22
On top of Old Baldy. Lookout Mountain is in the background.

Naughty Cat Cafe

The cold and off and on rainy weather has been keeping us inside more than we’d like for the past couple of weeks. What could we do that was new, and inside?

We have passed Naughty Cate Cafe, at the base of Lookout Mountain, many times, and said each time that we needed to go there some day. Well that day was last Saturday.

I’m not sure how the cafe operates in a non-COVID-19 world, but right now, they ask to book one-hour time slots in advance. I think they do walk-ins, but there’s a good chance that the cafe is full, so it is probably better to just make the reservation to guarantee a spot when you want to go.

It costs $13 per person. The fee includes non-alcoholic drinks. There is a tea and coffee bar set up at the front. Alcoholic drinks and food items like cookies, brownies and cupcakes are extra.

Naughty Cat Cafe has been open for a little less than two years, and they have had over 600 adoptions! All of the cats at the cafe are adoptable, and they come from two partnering shelters.

When we went, there were 38 cats! Inside the lounge there are plenty of spaces to sit, but you may be sharing your seat with a cat! There are also plenty of toys for the cats to play with.

We definitely fell in love with a few kitties, but we are strictly a two-cat household at the moment. You are not required or expected to adopt a cat from the cafe. Some people go just to de-stress and get in some cute cat time.

There was one black kitty named Fiddlestix that we liked. She was new to the cafe, and was in the “shy” room, a small closed off area for cats to slowly get used to the cafe. Another kitty, Mitsuu, had only three legs and was SO friendly.

Naughty Cat Cafe has an Instagram page, and I am going to enjoy following it for the next few weeks, and see which ones have been adopted.

I would love to go again. In just a few weeks, most if not all of the cats could be all new ones! However, I would probably go once the pandemic is over, or at least when more people have been vaccinated. Everyone kept their masks on inside, but I personally felt like there were too many people there. I am still glad we went though. It was a different experience.

Naughty Cat Cafe9
Naughty Cat Cafe17
Naughty Cat Cafe6
Naughty Cat Cafe3
Naughty Cat Cafe37
Fiddlestix, one of our favorites. I hope she finds a good home soon.
Naughty Cat Cafe30
Naughty Cat Cafe15
Naughty Cat Cafe27

Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center

Yesterday we hiked the trails at Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center for the first time.

One of Derek’s classes this semester, professional practices, is partnering with the Arboretum to help them with graphic design work, such as signage. A few weeks ago, Derek went to the Arboretum and met with the president.

He wanted to go back with me, and hike some of the trails, to get a better feel for the place.

The Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center is located at the foot of Lookout Mountain near Lookout Creek.

According to a blog post on the website, reflectionriding.org, “Named after a British type of park, Reflection Riding is devoted to creating an atmosphere of contemplation and tranquility amid the natural environment of the park. The term “riding” comes from British usage, meaning ‘a path of pleasure.’”

There is a lot to do at the Arboretum and Nature Center, but sadly, most of it is closed right now, due to the pandemic.

There is a treehouse, which you can walk through, but it can also be reserved for parties, weddings, etc., as well as a Blue Heron Wetland Boardwalk. There is also a Nature Center, which offers workshops, and field trips for kids in school. The Nature Center holds a native plant sale every fall.

There is also a native wildlife exhibit, where you can see animals such as bobcats, red foxes, red wolves, bald eagles, and many different kinds of owls. These animals are unable to survive in the wild, due to being kept illegally as a pet, sustaining an injury, etc.

With a lot of these extras being closed, I was prepared to be disappointed at my first visit. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The trails are quite beautiful, and I can only imagine they will be even more beautiful as spring arrives.

We hiked about 3.5 miles on multiple different trails, which are all connected. I will say this, the trails are labeled, but the map provided on the Arboretum’s website gives no indication of how long any of the trails are. The website does say that there are about 14 miles worth of trails total.

Some of the things we saw along the way include the outdoor classrooms for kids, lots of signage with facts and stories about the area, and two restored cabins belonging to Native Americans, Chief Walkingstick and Squincy Bird.

One thing that I enjoy about the Arboretum is that most of their plants and trees are labeled. It was nice to see a beautiful pink flower in bloom, and know that it was a camellia!

Visitors to the Arboretum have to pay a fee of $15 per car. This fee helps keep the place running, as they rely on support from the community.

A membership for two adults is $60, and offers some benefits, like discounts. Derek and I talked it over, and we would like to purchase a membership in the future, when things reopen. There are also family memberships, and student memberships.

I am glad that we found this place, thanks to Derek being involved with it this year. I am looking forward to coming back and seeing it in different seasons.

Reflection Riding Arboretum1
The edge of a horse pasture.
Reflection Riding Arboretum3
Flowers in bloom in January!
Reflection Riding Arboretum5
Reflection Riding Arboretum6
Chief Walkingstick’s cabin.
Reflection Riding Arboretum10
A meadow, which I am sure will be beautiful in spring.
Reflection Riding Arboretum20
Squincy Bird’s cabin.
Reflection Riding Arboretum26
An old well, with a patch of bamboo in the background.
Reflection Riding Arboretum27
Another path through a second meadow.
Reflection Riding Arboretum35
Reflection Riding Arboretum38

Glen Falls Trail

This past weekend Derek and I hiked the Glen Falls Trail.

This trail is located about halfway up Lookout Mountain, on the Tennessee side. This hike has varying lengths, depending on how long you want to make it. Our hike ending up being about 1.5 miles.

There is a small parking lot on the side of the road at the trailhead. The trail is an easy one, not too much elevation, not too rocky.

Your first glimpse of the falls is across the way while you’re on the trail. The trail leads to a small wooden bridge. The view of the waterfall is hidden from here, behind the rocks, but if you choose to keep going up, you have a better view of the waterfall from above.

The trail splits after the bridge. You can go straight, which I believe ends up at another parking lot, but we went to the right, up stone steps. You go through a small cave like tunnel. The trail follows the stream/creek, to the upper portion of the falls. I was not able to find out what this body of water is called.

You can get quite close to the upper falls, by walking across the stream of water. Be careful though! We found out the hard way that rocks covered by rushing water are extremely slippery!

From there, we also decided to climb up a bunch of rocks that offered a really nice view. This is not technically part of the trail, but this area does offer a lot in the way of exploring.

We were excited to go on this hike because last week we ordered hiking shoes. All this time we were wearing footwear that wasn’t really appropriate for trails. We both got Columbia shoes. I have always wanted hiking boots with red laces! Crossing the stream put the shoes to the test, and yes, they really are waterproof!

We have now seen five waterfalls on four different trails in the span of a month. When we first set out to hike in the fall months, I never expected that I’d be able to see so many different waterfalls, or any at all, for that matter!

Glen Falls Trail4
Glen Falls Trail8
Glen Falls Trail12
Glen Falls Trail18
Glen Falls Trail16
Glen Falls Trail15
Glen Falls Trail29
Glen Falls Trail36
Glen Falls Trail43
Glen Falls Trail46