“It’s time to go on an adventure,”
my wife and I said to each other Christmas morning. We’d just been given an obscure gem of a gift – a book detailing forty hiking trails in the Chattanooga area. (The book, Five-Star Trails Chattanooga, Your Guide to the Area’s Most Beautiful Hikes by Johnny Molloy, is a great little guidebook that I’d recommend to anybody in the area.)
For those of you not from Chattanooga, the Scenic City is a melting pot of nature. Divided by the Tennessee River, Chattanooga sits between a slough of mountains, most notably Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain. Nestled in Southern Tennessee, this area, known for its outdoorsy population, is home to a cornucopia of scenic walking routes – by which I mean hundreds. Now you can understand our exuberance at opening a 250p. travel guide. And thus we started our new adventure – to hike the Chattanooga area’s forty most beautiful trails before the end of 2015.
Earlier this very day (December 31, 2014), my wife Abigail and I did our first trail.
Though we both love the outdoors, we’ve been pretty sluggish the last several months, which showed horribly as we grotesquely stumbled our way up Dalton, Ga’s George Disney Trail. Our guidebook lists the length and difficulty for each trail Molloy found worthy of publishing. We then ordered the forty trails by difficulty and length, and George Disney is supposedly the easiest. Supposedly.
It’s short, only 1.4 miles round trip. Half (.7 miles) straight up, and half back down. When you think “only a little over half a mile,” you don’t predict you’ll have to stop three times to bring the spinning world back into focus, but let’s just blame it on the brisk North Georgia December air and our moronic choice to wear shorts, t-shirts, and Chacos.
According to Abigail, this is one of those trails where your only thoughts on the way up are, “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, why me! But then you get to the top, and the view is totally worth it.”
I concur. That sweet redemption of those glorious views from atop Rocky Face Mountain was well worth our gasping for air moments earlier. On a clear day, like the day we went, you could see features of Lookout Mountain, including Covenant College and Pointe Park. Had we been smart, we would’ve thought to take a camera to capture the moment – which we both believe was far more beautiful even than the image shown above.
What was very enjoyable for me, as an Eagle Scout, was to see that the area Boy Scouts are responsible for maintaining the trail. They’ve labelled various flora along the way, provided a bench for resting halfway up, and even have an amphitheater and lectern set up at the top! How about that?
Were we to do it again, I’d make sure to utilize trekking poles, as I slipped down the steep trail several times during our descent.
Total hike time, plus breaks, plus enjoying the views: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
One down, thirty-nine to go.
Kenneth D. Burke