Pot Point Trail

Last week we hiked the Pot Point Trail, which is a 4 mile trail located near the Pot Point Cabin.

We discovered this trail after hiking the Ritchie Hollow Trail, because the two trails have the same parking lot.

The first mile of the Pot Point Trail is an elevation gain, but there is a descent after that and the rest of the trail is flat. The second half of the trail follows the Tennessee River.

The first mile also features mile marker posts every .10 of a mile. We were so happy to see marker “10” and know that the hardest part of the trail was over!

I have seen reviews of this trail where people mentioned that the river section of the trail is often flooded during a heavy rainfall. So, if you want to hike this trail, go during a period of dry weather.

At one part during the first half of the hike, we passed an area covered with brush. We walked past it and scared two turkeys! They immediately flew away. One flew straight up, and another took off into the distance. Neither of us had ever seen turkeys fly! It all happened so quick that I could not get a picture.

We also came across an old, abandoned shed/barn structure just off the trail. It seems like there have been plenty of visitors, because unfortunately there was a lot of litter in the area.

The end of the hike has a detour because of a landslide. We knew it was coming, and yet we still got lost. According to trail reviews, we are not the only ones that this happened to. During the detour, you follow the road for a little bit. You’re supposed to enter back on the trail, which we did see, but it was not obvious that it was where the detour ended. The trail head actually points in the opposite direction, which threw us off, and that is why we didn’t enter. Later on, checking the map, I saw that the trail does veer off in the correct direction eventually. Lots of people said that the last part of the trail follows the road, which is true to an extent, but like us, they must have not seen, or were confused by the trail picking back up again, and followed the road all the way back.

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Lookouts baseball game

Last night we attended a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game, finally.

This was the one thing I had wanted to do for the longest time, because COVID-19 shut down last year’s season.

We watched the Lookouts play the Tennessee Smokies. Unfortunately, they lost 11-3. We left after the 7th inning and the score wasn’t that bad at 6-3. In the eighth inning the Smokies scored five more times! I am glad we left when we did. I wish baseball games weren’t so slow; it was past my bedtime!

Even though they were losing, we had a good time. The game started at 7:15 p.m. so it wasn’t so hot out, and there was a cool breeze. In between innings there were little games that they picked people out of the stands for. The stadium played good music so that kept things entertaining as well.

The concessions were decent. There was not much to choose from but you had all of your basics, and the prices were not too bad. We got a pretzel and dippin’ dots. There was also a store to buy apparel and other Lookout items, but we did not go inside.

I was glad that we stayed through the 7th inning to see the “7th inning stretch.” We had never experienced it before. At the only other baseball game we’ve been to, a Houston Astro’s game, we left after the 5th inning. Baseball really is so slow! The mascot, Looie, came out and lead the crowd in singing “Take me out to the ballgame.”

Overall we had a good time, and I think we might go again later in the season, which lasts through September. Friday nights have fireworks, so I think that would be a good time to go, plus perhaps we could stay the whole game since it would be a weekend.

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Ritchie Hollow Trail

We hiked the Ritchie Hollow Trail on Wednesday morning, and a lot of lessons were learned.

Do not hike in warm, summer-like weather after a recent rain, because the humidity will be bad! Also, because of the humidity, we were sweating more, so we went through more water. We had to ration our water so we had enough to last the entire hike. Bring more water for warm weather hikes!

The Ritchie Hollow Trail is a newer trail, part of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust, which opened up in 2018.

The trailhead is just across the road from the Pot Point Cabin. I was excited to see this cabin, because I have seen pictures of it and I have read about it online.

According to trgt.org, “Pot Point Cabin was originally constructed in 1835 of hand-hewn logs and planks reclaimed from a flat boat that wrecked on the “Boiling Pot,” a nearby rapid in the Tennessee River.”

It is a beautiful two story log cabin, with views of the Tennessee River. The cabin is owned by the trust, and can be rented out. I looked into it once, and a two night stay is over $800! The cabin is large, so that price could be split up between parties. I had to satisfy myself by just looking at it from the outside, and taking a peek through the front window.

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The full trail is 2.7 miles one way (5.4 miles round trip), but we did not complete the full trail. I might consider this during a return trip, but it would definitely have to be a colder day. Instead, we stopped at Blowing Wind Falls, which is 1.8 miles in, for 3.6 miles total. This seems to be a popular choice. We saw two other couples who did the same thing.

The hike to the falls is a steady incline the whole way. It flattens out at times, but barely long enough to catch your breath. The path is extremely rocky, and there are a lot of rock steps.

The hike features a few water crossings, which were pretty low when we passed through. In the first part of the hike we came across two smaller water falls.

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We saw a lot of interesting things on this hike, including a lot of insects and flowers. My favorite was all of the mountain laurel shrubs. Mountain laurel grows in mountainous, forested areas. It is actually the state flower of Pennsylvania. We used to live in Pennsylvania for many years, and I had only seen it in the wild once. Here in this area of Tennessee, we see it all the time!

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The pinkish-white blooms of Mountain Laurel dotting the trail.
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Spotted this camouflaged toad hoping across the trail!
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Another thing that we saw along the trail were remnants of old moonshine stills, noted as such on trgt.org.

The trail went up and up and up, until we felt like we couldn’t go any further. Then, up ahead a ways, we saw the sign pointing the way to the waterfall. We were so relieved to be able to get to the ending point, and sit and rest!

I should also say, once we got higher up in elevation, the humidity dissipated, which helped a bit. But the elevation was as grueling as ever! The coolness from the waterfall was welcoming once we reached it.

We knew it would be warm, so we planned on wading in the base of the falls. Blowing Wind Falls is perfect for that because you can get right up to the edge of the falls. I brought my water shoes, but Derek just cuffed his pants up. The water was so cold and felt so good.

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The hike back was much easier, because then we were gradually descending all the way back down. Even though we were unprepared and we suffered a bit on the way going, we both said we would do this hike again!

Brown’s Ferry Tavern

Loyal readers of Seeing the Scenic City, and family and friends know that I love Civil War history, or any type of U.S. history, really.

My parents visited a few weekends ago. My dad loves Civil War history as much as I do, so we always try to find time to check out a local site. This time we decided to see Brown’s Ferry Tavern.

Brown’s Ferry Tavern is the oldest standing structure in Chattanooga, constructed in 1803. It was established by John Brown, a prominent Cherokee businessman.

One of the Trail of Tears routes passed by the tavern. Brown and his family were removed from the site during the Trail of Tears. He returned to the site afterward.

The tavern was also witness to the Battle of Brown’s Ferry, which occurred on October 27, 1863. This Civil War battle ensured the opening of the “cracker line” or the supply line, for the Union troops.

To read about the Browns Ferry Federal Road hike on Moccasin Bend that visits the opposite end of this battle on the Tennessee River, click Here .

The property is preserved by the American Battlefield trust, but Brown’s Ferry Tavern is private property, so you are not able to walk up to the building and peer inside. We skirted around the edge of the property, and took various photographs from our vantage points.

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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!

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The inside of Corner Coffee. The owner is really nice and enjoys chatting with everyone while waiting for their food.
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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.

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The Dade County Historical Courthouse.
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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.

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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.

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The Wildwood Depot.

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.

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I love the country-type atmosphere!
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I love the look of this stove!
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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.

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The outdoor seating at 1885 Grill is really nice, in warmer temperatures of course.
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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.

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An old structure we came across on the Blue Loop trail.
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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.

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Fiddlestix, one of our favorites. I hope she finds a good home soon.
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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.

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The edge of a horse pasture.
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Flowers in bloom in January!
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Chief Walkingstick’s cabin.
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A meadow, which I am sure will be beautiful in spring.
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Squincy Bird’s cabin.
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An old well, with a patch of bamboo in the background.
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Another path through a second meadow.
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Reminiscing about 2020

With the ringing in of 2021, our first full year in Chattanooga has come to an end. The obvious thing to say is that 2020 was a ridiculous year.

On the surface, things looked pretty bad. I had three jobs this year, which is two jobs too many. I lost a job, resigned from a job, and had to go see a doctor to get on depression and anxiety medication. Mechanic bills for our car and veterinary bills piled up. Our cat passed away two weeks before Christmas, too. Add that all up and … ugh.

But if you dig a little deeper, I’d say things were good.

I’m thankful that we spent the pandemic in the Scenic City. We got outdoors more than ever this year, which was the safest thing to do.

I’m an adventurous soul. Not being able to travel in the past year has hurt me the most. But instead, we adventured around Chattanooga, seeing and doing things (mostly outdoors) that I had never expected to do.  

I have a Chattanooga area bucket list, and the majority of it has remained untouched. For instance, “Seeing a Lookouts baseball game” was impossible to cross off, because the entire season was cancelled. Likewise, we still haven’t taken a train ride with the Tennessee Valley Railroad. Trains are running, but I don’t feel comfortable going quite yet.

However, I did have a list of hiking trails I wanted to tackle, and that got completed, and then some.

We have hiked more in the last six months than I have hiked in my entire life. Some of the paths and trails we have done — ranging from easy flat gravel paths to moderate mountain hikes — were located at Big Soddy Creek Gulf, Greenway Farms, Booker T. Washington State Park, Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, Moccasin Bend, Prentice Cooper State Forest and Cloudland Canyon State Park.

It seemed like every time we finished one trail, we found another that we wanted to hike, and that is still the case now.

Getting outside kept me sane. It felt good to get our heart rates up, stretch our legs, make it to a gorgeous overlook, and feel accomplished.

We continued to hike as it got colder out, and we found that we quite enjoy winter hikes. I do not like winter time, as I get cold easily, but exercising like this is a good way to offset how our bodies feel in lower temperatures, and keep us more active throughout these months. I hope that we will continue to hike throughout January and February.

Hikes aside, I got a lot more exercise than ever before. I was averaging about three or four walks a day around my neighborhood. In September, I participated in a virtual 5K, and got a medal and a t-shirt for it. Walks were calming, and necessary for me, while I was going through bad bouts of anxiety.

Quitting my job was a huge risk, but it all worked out in the end. I was unemployed for about five weeks. Since Derek only taught two days a week last semester, we did a lot during the week days, to avoid crowds. We visited Wildflower Tea Shop for the first time, and it was nearly empty! We also went ice skating — something we had never done together — and there were only about half a dozen other people at the rink.

I hated working from home for my old job, but now I am thankful that I got to spend all of those months with our cat while she was still healthy, and I was home with her when she did get sick. All of that time that she spent on my lap every day are precious memories now.

I started my new job in early December, and I’m the happiest I have been in a long time. I thought I had wanted to leave journalism for marketing, but I discovered that journalism is where I am meant to me. This has put a lot of things into perspective.

I am cautiously looking forward to what 2021 may bring.