Is there anything more relaxing than a scenic hike above the clouds? We know that hitting the trails soothes the soul, and the Incline Railway is your gateway to one of the most scenic hikes on Lookout Mountain as well as a unique way to immerse yourself nature.
For decades, people have used the Incline Railway to travel up Lookout Mountain for the world-class hiking and scenery. The hike to Sunset Rock, in particular, promises unparalleled views all culminating in a photo-worthy moment at one of the world’s most iconic bluffs. Usually, a hike starts with a drive to a parking lot, where you step right out of the car onto the trail. But the Incline Railway offers a different hiking experience. When you take the world’s longest passenger railway up Lookout Mountain, an adventure like no other begins.
Start in historic downtown St. Elmo at the lower station, and admire the marvel of modern engineering that ascends the 72.7-degree incline up Lookout Mountain. As you board the railcar and begin the trip up Lookout Mountain, take time to admire this one-of-a-kind view of downtown Chattanooga and the surrounding mountains. This is just a glimpse into the experience that awaits atop Lookout Mountain.
After arriving at the upper station, and before you start your journey to Sunset Rock, head to the upper observation deck for remarkable view of the valley and mountains from the site’s pinnacle. The upper observation deck is the perfect place to take advantage of the panoramic option on your camera phone, giving you an extraordinary image to share with friends.
From the upper station, it is a short walk to Point Park. This will be your journey’s starting point—a noteworthy beginning, to be certain. These grounds were the site of many crucial Civil War battles, and markers can be found throughout the park to provide a deeper insight into the battles that were once forged on the property.
Once you have explored the park and admired the scenery from the many overlooks, your hiking adventure begins.
If haven’t already mapped your route, there is a map of the trails of Lookout Mountain detailing the routes and places to go at the start of the trail. Make sure to take a picture of it with your phone before you start your hike along one of the most popular Lookout Mountain trails.
The hike to Sunset Rock is one of the well-traveled for good reason. Lookout Mountain has always been a hot spot for photographers, and the vantage point from Sunset Rock has been the subject of photos for decades.
Bluff Trail leads the way to Sunset Rock, and the hike to this scenic spot is just a little over one mile. The round trip back to Point Park will take around 1.5 hours, promising an afternoon spent soaking in the stunning sights and enjoying the refreshing mountain air. Bluff Trail is considered one the best and most user-friendly trails around Chattanooga. You will be surrounded by magnificent sandstone cliffs on one side and stunning views of the surrounding mountains on the other, making this hike one you won’t soon forget.
A short junction trail leads the way to the rock steps that will take you to the top of Sunset Rock. You might need to rest after traversing the steep stairs, and, luckily, the view makes the journey more than worthwhile. From here, you have a breathtaking vantage point of the mountains, as well as the Tennessee River and Moccasin Bend, all of which provide a glimpse into how magnificent the natural world can be.
The hike back is filled with a feeling of contentment, knowing that you just witnessed one of the most remarkable views found anywhere—and it all began with a ride on the Incline Railway.
To explore all there is to do at the top and bottom stations of the Incline Railway and discover your gateway to Lookout Mountain, go to www.ridetheincline.com.