I am so happy that hiking season is returning! There are some extreme hikers that will hike year round, but we prefer to do it while staying cool, and not having to carry twice as much water.
On Labor Day, Monday morning, we got up early and we headed to the Glen Falls Trail. We started out small; this wasn’t even a mile and a half, but it was a good start nonetheless.
We were on the trail at 7:30 a.m. and we had the trail and waterfall to ourselves.
We hiked this trail last January, and this time around we had a totally different experience. The water was practically gushing compared to last time.
We wanted to take off our shoes and go wading in the water this time. We brought a towel so we could dry off our feet afterward. Last time, we learned our lesson, that the wet rocks in the base of the falls were quite slippery in our hiking boots. Our bare feet offered more traction.
The water was cold, but refreshing. It was a little scary in some places, where it was deeper and the water was rushing fast, but we waded back and forth safely.
This is a fairly easy hike that is good for beginner hikers and families. The parking lot is small though, and fills up quickly. I recommend getting to this trailhead early, or going on a weekday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
Yesterday we went to Snoopers Rock, which is within the Prentice Cooper State Forest, offering an amazing view of the Tennessee River Gorge. At that overlook, you see a bend in the river that curves around Elder Mountain.
From our place, it took about 35 minutes to get there. This is partially because once in Prentice Cooper State Forest, the road that leads to the trail, Game Reserve Road, has a 25 mph speed limit. I think the drive is well worth the view!
There is a parking lot on Game Reserve Road (listed as Game Reserve Road on the GPS, but signs there say Tower Road) at the start of the short trail to Snoopers Rock. Funnily enough, we accidentally took the “wrong” way! You can walk either the section of Mullen’s Cove Loop, which is on the right, or take Snoopers Rock Road, which is on the left. We didn’t know, and we walked the road. I suppose either way is fine, they both lead to Snoopers Rock!
It was a short walk, about 5-10 minutes, with some stops for photos of the season’s last fall foliage.
If you want an even shorter walk, there is a pull off spot with space for about 2-3 cars on Snoopers Rock Road, where you are just steps away from Snoopers Rock.
In the area, there are long trails such as the Mullen’s Cove Loop and Pot Point Loop, both of which lead to Snoopers Rock, so you can hike as little or as much as you want.
Since we went on a Wednesday morning, we were all by ourselves. We took as many pictures as our hearts content, and then ate our packed snacks on the rock while enjoying the scenery. With each place that we visit, I am reminded of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful area. Chattanooga truly is the “Scenic City.”
The purpose of this blog is to let our family and friends know about all of our adventures and day to day life in Chattanooga. This, of course, means that there will be some bad mixed in with the good.
If you’re a regular reader of Seeing the Scenic City, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling at my job for the past few months, as well as struggling with depression and anxiety that stemmed from the job.
I went on medication in early September. My anxiety has subsided, and when the medication worked, it allowed me to look at the work problems with clarity.
All of this leads me to say that Friday was my last day at my job. I put in three weeks’ notice in early October. With all honesty, I had wanted to quit my job since the summer months, so I am actually proud of myself for making it that much farther.
I will not go into too many details, but basically I realized that this was not the job for me. I was unhappy with the work I was doing. I was trying my best, but it became apparent that my best was not good enough.
This is probably not the smartest decision, financial wise. But it was the best decision for my health.
I have a few applications already out for some other positions, and I will keep looking for new jobs on a regular basis. In the meantime, I am looking forward to a (hopefully short) resting period.
In related news, yesterday we went on a challenging mountain hike. You can read about that here. One section of the trail lead to a beautiful overlook, where we could see the mountains on all sides, the river and a waterfall.
It was a great metaphor for what I am going through right now. Yes, things are hard, but if you put just one foot in front of the other, you will eventually get to the top of your mountain. Derek and I have made it over mountains before, and we will get over this one, too.
Today we hiked a segment of the Cumberland Trail, starting from Signal Point in the town of Signal Mountain, and going as far as the Middle Creek suspension bridge before turning back, for a total of 2.8 miles.
For some odd reason, I thought this hike would be easier than the hike we did two weeks ago on Lookout Mountain. I was wrong! This hike was extremely rocky. There were very few spots where the trail was flat and even. There were many spots where we had to climb or duck under large trees that had fallen in the path! We just had a large storm pass through this week, so I’m not quite sure if a lot of those trees had always been there, or if some of the damage was new. There was one spot where a tree took out a small section of a wooden walkway, and that seemed new.
We started at Signal Point, and first enjoyed the overlook for a few minutes. The trail starts to the right, and almost immediately there are a ton of steep steps, known as “The Mousetrap.” I am not sure why it is called that, but this is what the internet told me!
After all of the steps, the trail starts out fairly easily, but gets quite hard! There were more rocky areas than flat areas. You had to look down with almost every step.
I was glad that the trail was well marked (white squares either in paint, or screwed into the trees as metal plates) because there were quite a lot of sections where we thought, “Is this really the way we’re supposed to go?”
At 0.4 miles into the hike, you reach Julia Falls Overlook. I have read online that the falls is usually dry, or just a trickle. I am glad that we went after two days of heavy rain, so we could see it!
We had Julia Falls Overlook all to ourselves for about 15-20 minutes. A few groups came in, but by that point we were ready to head on our way. (On the way back, after lunch time, there were quite a few people there.)
After that, we followed the trail for about a mile to the Middle Creek suspension bridge. We were by ourselves for about 5 minutes, and then all of a sudden so many people showed up! We think it’s because the bridge is close to the Rainbow Lake Trail, another popular area.
This hike was hard, but only because of the uneven ground. It was slow going, for sure. If I were to do this again, I would probably only do the first section to Julia Falls. As always, I am glad we did it, and I felt accomplished (and exhausted). This makes two mountain hikes in three weeks!