Trip Start May 03, 1996
10Trip End May 04, 1996
This is a three-state, two-time-zone Trip; with two state's parks, and a national preserve. Just how big is this mountain anyhow? It stretches 83 miles in a southwesterly direction from Chattanooga, rising to a highest point of 2,393 feet. Its broad top ranges from a mile in width to almost ten. The Tennessee River shapes its northernmost point, the Coosa River defines the south end, and the Little River flows along the top. Can you guess how many scenic vistas, how many caves, how many rock formations, how many species of plant are to be found on such a mountain? Hard to do. The fun will be in making your own memories.
Drive past Covenant College; its Carter Hall is a former resort hotel and is visible from the valleys below. Stop at McCarty's Bluff and watch people step off the side of the mountain, hang gliding of course, at Lookout Mountain Flight Park.
On to Georgia's Cloudland Canyon State Park, where even non-hikers are treated to royal canyon views at the overlooks. The gorgeous scenery has you so relaxed you won't notice when you cross the state line into Alabama and the time zone into central on your way to Mentone, where shops and restaurants vie for your attention. It's just a short drive off the mountain to Valley Head.
Cloudmont Resort and Alabama's DeSoto State Park are next;; and Fort Payne is close by in the valley. How many days do you have to explore DeSoto Park? Stay as long as you can and drive the 20-mile canyon drive, stopping along the way to admire one of the deepest gorges in the country, cut by Little River, which is formed and flows entirely on the mountain.
You are surrounded by farmland as you drive towards Cherokee Rock Village; then off the mountain to Weiss Lake for an admiring look back up at the mountain, or a fishing stop at the crappie capital of the world.
Enjoy a ride on the riverboat in Gadsden before you go back up the mountain to Noccalula Falls, and see the Princess poised at the edge. Return on Lookout Mountain Parkway or take the faster route on I-59.