What makes Lookout Mountain home

Winter doesn't mean hibernation on Lookout Mountain. Bare trees reveal some of the year's most breathtaking views, and our trails remain packed with hikers, bikers and runners. Can't stand the cold? Try exploring one of Lookout's myriad caves, where it's always a comfy 65 degrees.

Social butterflies haven’t migrated either, and they’re sure to swarm next month’s Night Out for Lookout, the annual auction and dinner benefitting Lookout Mountain School. If your 2016 goals include getting out more and enjoying life, resolve to visit (or live on) Lookout Mountain.

Answers to Lookout Mountain Trivia

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How did the Cow Path get its name?

Sorry, trick question. The origins of the name remain a mystery; the path was actually part of old track from Lookout Mountain’s streetcar, The Dinkey. No one recalls cows on that stretch of land before the streetcar was built in 1888, or after its disappearance in 1928, according to Dyer Butterfield in his book "Lookout Mountain Memories."

What was the name of the streetcar that serviced Lookout Mountain from 1888 to 1928?

The Dinky

What was the name of the original Lookout Mountain School? Bonus: what year did it begin?

School No. 1
1878

What year was Ochs Highway paved?

1931

What was the original use for the Fairyland Club and what was its name?

A hotel
Fairyland Inn

Lookout Mountain was the birthplace of miniature golf. What was the name of the first course?

“Tom Thumb”

What year did they pave the first road up Lookout Mountain?

1927

Yessick’s Launches New Look in New Building

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The New Year meant a new look for Yessick’s. The gift shop and interior design center has consolidated their offerings into the next door space once used as their furniture showroom. The former office building provides a unique shopping opportunity, with merchandise organized in vignettes inside bygone glass-front offices.

“It’s almost easier to shop now because you can see everything of one category in one place,” says longtime employee Vanessa Cullers.

The front room is stocked to the ceiling with their expansive Arthur Court selection, candles and barware. The next room resembles a New York showroom with handbags, jewelry and fashion accessories lining every wall.

The back two rooms are reserved for interior design services – housing wallpaper, rug and fabric samples. Yessick’s designer Sherlene Kirk will make weekly visits to the Lookout Mountain design outpost.

Furniture is interspersed throughout the new store, but most is displayed at their Gunbarrel location. Last year they shuttered its retail offerings to serve as the company’s design headquarters. Going forward they plan to concentrate their retail efforts at their three other locations – Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain and Franklin, TN.

Blazing New Trails

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When people think “trails” on Lookout Mountain, names like Mountain Beautiful or Bluff Trail may come to mind. But just 20 minutes south of those famous footpaths lies the Cloudland Connector Trailhead – a 14-mile corridor featuring the highest point on Lookout Mountain, one of Georgia’s most popular state parks, and some of the region’s finest single track for mountain biking.

See our Cloudland Connector Trail Guide

It took 10 years, a steadfast vision and interminable patience to construct the CCT. It began in 2004 when Lula Lake Land Trust Board Member, Adelaide Davenport Naumann and Bruz Clark, Executive Director of the Lyndhurst Foundation first dreamed up the idea of connecting Lula Lake to Cloudland Canyon State Park.

Before the first trail was cut, Lula Lake Land Trust had to hatchet through miles of red tape with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The nonprofit wanted to deed thousands of acres to the state, only asking in return their ability to oversee and patrol the property.

The partnership with DNR was a key part of the Cloudland Connector Trail vision,” says Mike Pollock, LLLT executive director. “We knew allowing daily public access would require resources beyond our organization.

After many road blocks with local representatives, Pollock was part of the delegation that met with DNR leadership in Atlanta. He along with LLLT Trustees Bobby and Elliott Davenport, Walker County Attorney Don Oliver and Bruz Clark helped trailblaze a new era of public-private cooperation between the two organizations.

Finally in 2009, the first 5.6 miles of the CCT quietly opened. Now known as Long Branch, the multi-use trail spans from Nick-a-Jack Road to Lula Lake Road and includes views of the highest point on Lookout (aptly named High Point).

Cloudland Connector Trail Map

Phase II, now dubbed Five Points included the revitalization of the old Durham Coal mine and railroad, a property that Bobby and Elliott Davenport bought a majority stake in 1999. With bureaucracy now on LLLT’s side, construction went much faster.

Grants from the Lyndhurst Foundation allowed LLLT to partner with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) to create a trail system tailor-made for cyclists. Today Five Points is nationally known as mountain biking nirvana, thanks in large part to master trail designer Barry Smith.

Smith collaborated with LLLT’s then-Land Manager Noel Durant and SORBA operatives Erik Rippon, Micah Morrison and Rusty Middlebrooks to devise a mechanized approach to trail building never fully implemented in the Chattanooga area.

A trail-specific dozer called a Sweco 480 cut 1.25 miles in the first day on a trail now known as Peace Can (additional machines followed to grade, smooth and drain). Other trails were hand built by volunteers from SORBA, Wild Trails, Rock/Creek, Baylor School, Georgia Power and the Boy Scouts. In just two years, the 3-mile midsection was completed as well as 21 miles of connecting single track.

Phases III and IV proceeded much slower due to bad weather, contractor issues and lack of funding. Once again, The Lyndhurst and Riverview Foundations stepped in with matching grants to complete the 15-mile trail network, including a 65-foot bridge spanning Bear Creek.

Construction was taken in-house by LLLT, falling on the shoulders of Durant and his successor Patrick Kelly, as well as LLLT staff member Michael Wurzel and volunteer Jarret Kinder. Thanks to the dedication of these men, along with countless volunteer hours, LLLT met its completion date of June 28, 2014.

Now you know the history, it’s time to hit the trails! Click here for Lula Lake Land Trust’s top recommendations for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Lookout Mountain Trivia

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Think you know Lookout Mountain? Test your hometown knowledge below. Email answers to editor@livingonlookout.com before February 4, when answers will be published.

The person with the most correct answers will be profiled in an upcoming story or choose another topic to cover. Anyone can enter so forward to your friends near and far.

Got your own trivia ideas? Send them along to editor@livingonlookout.com. We'll credit you if we use them.

  • How did the Cow Path get its name?

  • What was the nickname of the streetcar that serviced Lookout Mountain from 1888 to 1928?

  • What was the name of the original Lookout Mountain School? Bonus: what year did it begin?

  • What was the original use for the Fairyland Club and what was its name?

  • Lookout Mountain was the birthplace of miniature golf. What was the name of the first course?

  • What year did they pave the first road up Lookout Mountain?

Father/Daughter Dance Coming Soon

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Father/Daughter Dance
Friday, February 5, 6:30 to 10:00
Fairyland Club Ballroom
$100 per father/daughter pair, plus $20 for each additional daughter

There’s only one thing that would cause a man to dress in light-up disco shoes or do the Macarena – his little girl. Which is why the Father/Daughter Dance at the Fairyland Club is always so entertaining.

Even guys who usually don't like to dance will get out there and cut it up with their daughters – I know that from personal experience,” laughs Dr. Rink Murray, who’s organized the event for the past several years. “The night is a blast – it means so much to the girls.

The annual gala takes place at the Fairyland Club ballroom and features a laser light show and music from DJ Scuba Steve, a photo booth, buffet dinner and ice cream bar. The dress is Valentine’s formal, but a best-dressed award for dads has led to several interesting wardrobe choices.

We’ve had everything from Ted Alling in a camouflage tux to Neil Grant wearing platform light-up disco shoes,” says Murray. “I thought I would win best dressed one year wearing my gold tuxedo, but Jamey Hurst showed up in a powder blue Dumb and Dumber get-up that could not be denied.

The mothers are not completely left out. Many sneak onto the dance floor to take pictures of their favorite “couple.” For the past few years Karen Leavengood has been in charge of decorations, while several other moms volunteer at the admissions table.

The event is open to anyone, but space is limited to 100 fathers and is already more than 75 percent full. To reserve a spot, contact Murray at rinkmurray@gmail.com.

The Father/Daughter tradition started just four years ago, when a group of dads who participated in the YMCA’s Adventure Princess Program decided to forego the downtown dance and organize one for Lookout Mountain. The “chief” at the time, Paul Daniel spearheaded the first event along with the help of his wife, Leah. Murray has carried the torch since then but says this dance will be his last as organizer.

“I’ve asked the Fairyland Club if they’d like to take it over, but they feel it would be better attended if it’s organized by someone in the community,” he says. “I only hope someone will step up the plate to take over the reins next years.”

If the past few years on the dance floor are any indication, it’s almost certain someone will.

Stay Fit Without a Treadmill

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Whether you’re a fitness newbie or professional athlete, gyms are annoying in January. The “resolutioners” crowd the treadmills and clog the parking lot. You have to arrive 15 minutes early just to claim a spot in your favorite class.

Fortunately, there’s a solution – run outside. More specifically, in the woods. Chattanooga has 54 trailheads within 30 minutes of downtown. Dozens of athletes have picked up and moved here after competing in one of the city’s many outdoor sport races; one of which is Randy Whorton.

“I’m from Boulder, Colorado and it doesn’t have anything like this,” says the ultramarathon trail runner. “I think Chattanooga is by far the most impressive trail city in the world.”

To say Randy and his wife, Kris are avid runners is an understatement. Each log approximately 1,000 miles every year on the trails. In his 30-year running career Randy has completed 112 marathon (or longer) distance races, including seven 100-milers and six Ironmans. In 2009, Kris had the second fastest women’s 100-mile time in the world at 16:05.

When they relocated in 2005, they settled at the foot of Lookout Mountain, home to nearly half of the aforementioned trailheads. One of their favorites is literally in their backyard.

“You can’t beat the diversity and beauty of Lookout and it’s getting better every year,” he says.

While they loved their new hometown, they didn’t love the prevailing attitude that runners belonged on asphalt. They decided to change that. In 2006 they formed Wild Trails, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion and preservation of trails.

Wild Trails exists for premiere athletes like the Whortons, but also those who only run to the fridge during commercial breaks. They want to encourage everyone to discover the benefits of outdoor sports, whether that’s hiking, biking or running.

“We want to get people off the couch,” says Randy. “Most people can do more than they think they can. Some of my favorite moments as race director are watching first timers cross the finish line; some break down in tears.”

Their 13-event trail race series has been lauded as the best in the Southeast, with distances ranging from 5Ks to 100 miles. Of course you can’t have trail races without any trails, and the nonprofit has become a leader in their conservation and construction.

“When we moved here we realized no one was really maintaining the trails in an organized fashion,” says Randy. “Today we work with pretty much all of the land associations. The National Park Service relies on us for chainsaw work when clearing fallen trees.”

Wild Trails has helped fund new footpaths across the city, from Raccoon Mountain to Enterprise South. Through a dedicated group of volunteers, they’ve helped restore and reopen long abandoned trails on Lookout Mountain, such as the Shingle Trail and Glen Falls trailhead.

This year, they hope to get even more people outside with their 200 Mile Club. The program is specifically aimed at creating or continuing a lasting fitness program, whether that’s walking, running, biking, swimming, paddling…even unicycling. As soon as you travel 200 miles, you’re in the club (swimming mileage is multiplied by four; biking is divided by four). Club members are rewarded with a membership card that offers discounts all over town.

The program holds special meaning for Randy, as it was his intro into running in high school. His dad joined a similar program at their local running club and encouraged his son to do it with him. Although Randy lettered in three sports every year, he absolutely hated running.

“It took two months before there was any shred of enjoyment,” he recalls. “I finally got into it and that last month was eye opening. I ran my first marathon 18 months later.”

Whether a 200 Mile membership could jumpstart you career in ultramarathons or encourage weekly runs with friends, you have to take the first step to find out.

Sign up for 200-mile club here


Find other trail runners through meetup.com here

Lookout Mountain Furniture Maker Creates Modern Heirlooms

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They just don’t make things like they used to…unless you’re Joel Bostrom. Utilizing tools and techniques perfected more than 100 years ago, the Mount Olive furniture maker creates pieces that will likely last another 100 years.

It has to look better 50 years from now,” he says. “It’s real wood – it’s going to move, get damaged or dinged or colored on with crayons. But that kind of wear only enhances a piece like this.

Bostrom learned woodworking from his grandfather, but it wasn’t until working several years as a carpenter that he realized hand tools could actually be faster and more accurate than machines.

“I was working building log cabins from scratch – we literally felled the trees onsite,” he recalls. “The other carpenter on the job talked nonstop about the benefits of hand tools. Once I finally got a plane in my hand that was sharpened and tuned, it sparked something in me.”

Once I finally got a plane in my hand that was sharpened and tuned, it sparked something in me.

He demonstrates how the plane works, translucent curls of wood falling to the ground. He stops, unfolds it and holds it up to the light. “Look at that – you could read through that,” he says, seemingly still amazed by the outdated tool.

Nearly everything in his shop reflects another era. Restored mallets, chisels and planes line his antique tool chest – a nearly three-foot trunk rescued from a yard sale. Initial drawings are in pencil rather than CAD, and he uses oil and wax finishes (never polyurethane). Even his heater is a pot-bellied stove.

“Machines do the grunt work, like first cuts, but after that I prefer hand tools,” he says. “Once a piece is hand planed, the grain of the wood is sealed so tight I often have to rough it up with fine grit sandpaper to accept the stain.”

Woodworking started for Bostrom as a hobby in early 2000. After several years his wife Katie was begging him to quit his day job. The move was an enormous leap of faith; the couple had welcomed their first child a few years before and neither were certain he’d make a living as a custom furniture maker. His happiness, however, was guaranteed.

“A lot of people think I’m nuts, but it’s what I enjoy,” he laughs.

Almost immediately he had six months of work lined up and business has been steady ever since. Each piece is made specifically to the client’s taste and space. His pieces aren’t reproductions but rather inspired by historic styles like Shaker, Craftsman and even Asian.

Bostrom knows he’ll never be competitive with mass production pieces, but they will outlast them 50 fold. His type of client appreciates a forever piece that’ll be handed down from generation to generation. Building everything from prayer benches to bathroom vanities, his favorites are dining room tables.

“They’re not the most technically challenging, but it’s one of the few pieces that everyone in the house can enjoy, including guests,” he says. “It’s often a cherished piece because of the memories made around the table. In a perfect world we’d all still have three-hour meals, where we could just sit and enjoy each other’s company.”

Bostrom’s pieces will never turn back the hands of time. But maybe the work he’s doing can inspire all of us to cherish the traditions of past generations.

For more information, contact Joel at blueskymining.joel@gmail.com

Lula Lake 2.0

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Lula Lake used to be one of Lookout Mountain’s best kept secrets…but word is getting out. Online trail guide RootsRated applauds it as “one of the most impressive destinations in the Southeast in terms of beauty.”

Its Five Points trail system is praised by mountain bikers as one of the best in the state. Its 800 acres of pristine forest serves as living laboratories for school groups across the region. For many students it’s their first time in the outdoors.

While Lula Lake Land Trust was thrilled to see their annual visitors grow from hundreds to thousands, the extra foot traffic was taking its toll.

“This is something we hoped for and welcomed, but our infrastructure needed bolstering to prevent erosion, improve signage and parking, and make trails safer and easier to follow,” says Executive Director Mike Pollock.

LLLT underwent a detailed inventory of their property, identifying the highest priority items. Then…they took a deep breath at the price tag.

Estimates included considerable savings, such as the in-house construction talent of Land Manager Pat Kelly. The Trust’s committed group of volunteers would help mitigate labor costs. Even so things like equipment rental, materials and site grading don’t come cheaply.

“We still faced a 20 percent increase in our 2014 budget, which is a big bite for any nonprofit to swallow,” says Pollock.

Enter the Riverview Foundation. Director Bruz Clark was familiar with LLLT’s growth over the years and encouraged them to submit a proposal. It was the beginning of an important and effective partnership.

“Riverview has allowed us to provide the highest level of conservation, education, and low-impact recreation services to our visitors,” says Pollock. “We’re deeply grateful for their support.”

The initial grant in 2014 went toward a new sign at the entrance gate and Kelly’s hand-built Welcome Kiosk. Grading and re-seeding the parking area allowed easier flow during Open Days, and trouble spots were addressed along the old railbed that forms the main road through the property.

The grant also helped fund the new Falls Trail – a highlight for many families. Its gentle grade and natural rock steps provide easy access to stunning views of Lula Falls.

Last fall, Riverview stepped up again to fund the construction of a composting privy near the parking area – modeled after those placed at the trailheads along the Cloudland Connector Trail – and a small information kiosk at the Lula Lake and Falls area.

LLLT was also able to replace the utility vehicle previously on loan from their partners at the Georgia-Alabama Land Trust, a critical piece of equipment for stewarding hundreds of acres and quickly reaching visitors in a pinch.

Lula Lake is open the first and last Saturday of each month. This year they’ll also be opening the gate on Sundays, but only from May until October. Its six miles of trails range from an easy stroll to the lake, to more adventurous hikes to Eagle Cliff and the base of the falls. Pets are welcome on a leash, and handicapped accessible parking is available.

Lula Lake Open Days
First and last Saturdays (9 to 5) and Sundays (12 to 5, May-October)
5000 Lula Lake Road, Lookout Mountain, GA
Cost is FREE with donations gratefully accepted at check-in

Christmas Tree Bonfire Tomorrow Night

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The halls are undecked, but the celebrations continue with the first annual Christmas Tree Bonfire, sponsored by The Treehouse Project.

That’s right; the same guys who successfully built a hotel in a tree are now reclaiming your used up pines to create – quite possibly – the most epic bonfire Lookout Mountain has ever seen. The celebration begins at 7 p.m. with the Bitter Alibi providing adult beverages. Feel free to bring your own hot dogs, marshmallows, chairs and theme music (Blaze of Glory anyone?).

You can drop off your old tree anytime today or tomorrow at 576 Chattanooga Valley Road in Flintstone. If you’ve already ditched yours at the curb don’t worry – the pile is around 10 feet high already. All ages are welcome, and safety will be top priority for the inferno.

The Treehouse Project’s First Annual Christmas Tree Bonfire
Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
576 Chattanooga Valley Road, Flintstone, GA 30725

More information on how to sleep in a tree

Last Open Gate Day of the Year for Lula Lake Land Trust

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Will Christmas really come in 70 degree weather? While this mid-winter heat wave isn’t great for getting you in the holiday spirit, it’s perfect for enjoying Lula Lake Land Trust’s LAST Open Gate Day of the year, held December 26 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Burn off those holiday cookies by hiking or biking the property’s more than 6 miles of trails. Lula Lake can accommodate cyclists of all ages and abilities, offering everything from sweet single track to wide fire roads for kids. Dogs are welcome on a leash.

Leftover turkey would make a perfect picnic in “one of the most impressive destinations in the southeast in terms of beauty,” according to RootsRated. And Open Days are the only time Lula Lake and Falls are open to the public. If you miss December’s, make it your New Year’s resolution to take full advantage of this natural treasure in your own backyard.

While there’s no entry fee, donations are encouraged to support their ability to keep the property available to the public. AND, all donations given before December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar thanks to a challenge match by LLLT’s board (up to $5,000).

Lula Lake and Lula Falls is located at 5000 Lula Lake Road. Entrance gate closes at 4 p.m. and exit gate locks at 5 p.m.

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