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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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!

Benton Falls

Yesterday Derek and I hiked the Benton Falls Trail, which is over an hour away from Chattanooga. Benton Falls is located in the Chilhowee Recreational Area, part of the Cherokee National Forest.

Benton Falls is a popular trail because it is a relatively easy hike ending with a gorgeous waterfall. The trails in the area are heavily trafficked, partially because the area is home to a campground. There is a day use area with picnic tables, grills, and a man made lake with a beach. If you are visiting, it costs $3 to park. There are envelopes at the information kiosk in which to put your money in.

I like to research before we go out on any new hike. I look at pictures, read reviews, and even try to watch YouTube videos, if they are available. During one video, taken during the summer, I was shocked to see how many people there were at Benton Falls. Because of this, we left at 6:30 in the morning.

On the way into the Chilhowee Recreational Area, Oswald Road features a few overlooks. We stopped at these to break up the winding, slow drive in to the trail head. The overlooks are absolutely gorgeous, featuring views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Ocoee River, and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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Sugarloaf Mountain is the pointy mountain, just off to the center of the photo.
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Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. The tallest mountain in the photo is Big Frog Mountain.

The hike is a mostly flat path, and the trail is three miles total (1.5 miles there and back.) The trail only gets rocky toward the end, when you descend by the falls.

There is a spot where you can see the top of the falls flowing down. Derek found a path that lead to the middle of the falls, where you could stand next to the edge. It was cool (and wet)!

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What the path looks like most of the way.
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At the side of the falls, about half way up.

Derek and I have seen a lot of waterfalls on our hikes, and I think Benton Falls is the prettiest. It is a 65-foot waterfall, and it flows down over rocks that are in a stair-like pattern, which makes for a pretty water flow.

The water was flowing well when we went, but the pool of water at the bottom wasn’t so high that we were still able to walk across some of the bigger rocks out in front.

What I like best about Benton Falls is that you can get close to the water, if you want. We were able to walk right on the lowest ledge, and feel the water spraying us. I imagine that a lot of people hike here in the summer with their bathing suits on. The water is sure to feel good in the summer heat.

It was a good call to arrive early in the morning. We arrived at the trail head at exactly 8 a.m., and we did not see a single soul on our entire hike in. We had the waterfall to ourselves the entire time, which was at least 30 minutes. We started to see a steady stream of people while hiking the trail back to the parking lot.

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Edward’s Point

It seems like every new hike we do becomes my new favorite, and Edward’s Point is no exception.

Edward’s Point is an overlook that is directly across from Julia Falls Overlook, a place that we’ve hiked to multiple times this past fall. This vantage point allows you to see Signal Mountain directly across from you, as well as the meandering Tennessee River flowing southward.

Edward’s Point can be reached via a few different trails. We started our hike at Rainbow Lake Trailhead, and took that to the Rainbow Lake Damn and Middle Creek Suspension Bridge. This is also another hike that we have done before. Once we passed the bridge, it was all new from there. The total hike was four miles, with two miles there, two miles back.

It is a little difficult in the middle part of the hike since you are starting from the bottom of Middle Creek and making you way up to the top of the mountain, but then it levels out. The trail alternates from relatively flat paths to rocky areas.

Our favorite part of the hike was when we reached the top and the trail followed the ridge line for a while.

We left on our hike fairly early in the morning, and did not see that many people once we left the suspension bridge. We did see some people at Edward’s Point itself, but we were mostly by ourselves. If we do this hike again, we will try to leave even earlier, to beat the heat as well.

This hike was pleasantly surprising, because all though we were expecting the end to be the best part, we saw lots of interesting things along the way. We came across waterfalls that we were not expecting. We also saw different centipedes, and lots of wildflowers.

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Passing by Rainbow Lake Dam on our way to Edward’s Point.
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A fiddlehead fern.
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Two centipedes.
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Lockhart Arch.
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One of the little waterfalls we passed on the trail.
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Walking on the ridge line as we got closer to Edward’s Point.
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Edward’s Point.
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Panorama of Edward’s Point.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.
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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.

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Mushroom Rock.
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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.

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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!

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View from the suspension bridge.
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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!

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.

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!

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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.

Falling Water Falls

On Christmas morning we did a short walk to see Falling Water Falls.

Falling Water Falls is just north of the town of Signal Mountain. It is about a 15 minute drive for us. Actually, it was about 20 minutes, but only because we had to take the long way around! W Road, the closest and fastest way up to Signal Mountain, was closed because of ice and snow!

It rained most of the day for us on Christmas Eve, and temperatures continually dropped. No snow by us, but up on Signal Mountain, it was cold enough for a little bit of snow! So in a way, we did get our white Christmas.

There is a small gravel parking lot at the trail head; Derek almost missed it driving by! About three cars can fit there. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. It’s a short walk to the falls. You’ll know you’re on the right track because you can hear the creek and the falls as you get closer.

The path follows Little Falling Water Creek, and ends at the falls. If you’re careful, and daring enough, you can lean over enough to see the falls cascading down. (I got down on my belly and looked that way!) If you’re scared of heights, you can still see the edge of the falls well enough by standing on the nearby rocks that offer a higher vantage point.

The whole walk there and back is about .3 miles, but you can extend that a bit depending on how much you explore. We walked a little bit down the creek, as well as taking an upper level path for a bit before turning back around.

Also, I need to mention how cold it was! We tried to wait a few hours until mid-morning for it to warm up a bit, but driving up the mountain, we lost those few extra degrees anyway. It was about 23 degrees up there! We were mostly fine with layers, but our faces were so cold!

It was a nice, easy way to get outdoors and get a little bit of exercise on Christmas morning. The holidays are usually quiet for us, so this was a way to make the day feel special. I feel lucky to live in an area where there are so many scenic places nearby.

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The trail leading to the falls. You can see the tiniest bit of snow!
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The edge of the falls.
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Derek takes a peek over the edge.
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