What makes Lookout Mountain home

Summer on Lookout Mountain means picnics at Point Park, baseball at the Commons, and long hikes under canopies of green. Let us know your favorite trail on Facebook or Twitter.

Warm weather also means outdoor fun, like the 60th annual Fairyland Festival last month, or celebrating CF Awareness on the Cafe's porch. Hold onto your flip flops as we kick off the best time to be Living On Lookout!

Community Movie Night Returns

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Grab your lawn chairs…Community Movie Night is back! On August 12, the Town Commons will once again be transformed to an open-air movie theater thanks to Love Lookout, a non-profit dedicated to bettering Lookout Mountain and fostering its already strong community.

The title is yet to be disclosed but promises to be a family-friendly flick. The event will begin at 6 pm with the movie beginning at dusk (around 9 pm). You’re encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and a picnic supper.

Just as last year, free popcorn and water will be available. You might also want to bring cash for after dinner treats. Ice cream and sno-cones may be available for sale, but details are yet to be confirmed.

Last year almost 500 people attended, ranging in age from seven months to seven decades. There were toddlers running in the grass, babies laying on blankets and teenagers hanging in the back.

“It was a really sweet bonding time for our entire community,” says Love Lookout point person, Ann Henley Perry.

“The movie started later than we expected – our rental company is on Central Time and misquoted us the start time. But what we noticed was people of all ages interacting and having fun. Even people with tiny babies didn’t seem flustered. It was really amazing to watch.”

This year, organizers are suggesting people bring outdoor games such as corn hole, Kan Jam or spike ball to share for pre-movie entertainment. Another popular item last year were glow necklaces, says Perry.

We want this to be more than just the movie,” she says. “Even if your family can’t stay the entire time because of bed times, they can still enjoy a really fun, laid-back evening with neighbors.

Community Movie Night
August 12
Town Commons
6 pm until 10 pm

Wildfire On Lookout Mountain

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West Brow Fire Fighters Keep an Eye on the Blaze

Kate Fuller was at home Monday afternoon when she smelled something burning. She looked out her back window to see a wall of smoke rising from the woods below her home, which her family had moved into just a few months ago.

I called 911 around 4:00 p.m. and about an hour later the Georgia Forestry Service was crashing through trees in bulldozers trying to reach it,” she recalls.

They couldn’t, and the blaze continued through the night – Kate and her husband, Clay took turns throughout the night checking its progress. The fire continued to spread south, growing from 10 to 20 acres as of this afternoon, says Supervisory U.S. Park Ranger, John McCutcheon.

The NPS got involved yesterday when the fire reached National Park lands. Today they have brought in more firefighters, almost 25 in total. Two helicopters have been running since Tuesday, scooping water from a pond below Covenant and dumping on the blaze.

The fire is getting dangerously close to the power lines that run up the mountain, right next to the Maggie Bluff subdivision. The only silver lining is the mowed area beneath the power lines can act as a natural fire break. The trails below Frontier Bluff, where the fire originated, are also keeping the blaze from spreading up the mountain toward homes, says McCutcheon.

We’ve been through this before in the ‘70s,” says homeowner Lynn Hartman. “We were out there with shovels and hoses, pumping water out of a neighbor’s pool. I get very nervous when I see smoke.

Standing on the back porch of her Maggie Bluff home you can hear the fire crackle and catch glimpses of flames, located about a quarter mile south. She says a man from the Georgia Forestry Service volunteered to camp out last night to keep an eye on things.

Since 11 a.m., the West Brow Fire Department has been at her house setting up hoses and watching the blaze. The NPS service won’t defend private property, so residents depend upon their local departments.

Lynn’s husband Don, along with Buddy Champion recently helped raise over $400,000 for the West Brow Fire Department, which went toward a new truck as well as a new station to accommodate it. They needed a truck with ladders tall enough to reach the top of Covenant College. This week they couldn’t be more grateful for their volunteer department.

They say they still need new equipment,” she says. “When this is over I’ll go door to door if I need to. They are such a valuable asset, particularly in this rural area.

Extreme drought conditions all summer have put North Georgia at risk for wildfires. NPS says at this point they believe it was started by an unattended fire. McCutcheon estimates it will be several more days before they can completely extinguish it.

LMC's Shrimp Boil - Good Time, Great Cause

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Lookout Mountain Conservancy’s fourth annual “Hot Fun in the Summer Time” party is this Thursday, July 14 from 6 to 10 pm. Take it from us: you don’t want to miss this late summer shrimp boil.

Held on the lawn of The Crash Pad, the party will be catered by celebrated Southside restaurant, The Feed Co. Table & Tavern. Lookout Mountain bluegrass band, The Rising Fawn Social Club will open the evening followed by rock/country cover band, Priscilla & Little Rickee. Beer and wine are provided by Chattanooga Brewing Company and Riverside Beverage, respectively.

While all of these elements promise a fun evening, the true highlight is the opportunity to meet LMC’s Howard School Interns. Each summer they help work the party as part of their paid internship program. These bright and driven teenagers are a delight to speak with – their poise and optimism a rarity in a time where texting and technology have nearly demolished adolescent social skills.

It wasn’t always this way. Four years ago when the first Howard School bus pulled onto LMC’s property at the base of Lookout Mountain, the students who stepped out barely spoke to their fellow classmates – let alone strangers at a party. Growing up in one of the city’s roughest neighborhoods had taught them to keep to themselves.

Over time, with guidance from LMC’s CEO Robyn Carlton, the land helped heal them. Most had never even crossed Broad Street, let alone spent time in the woods. Surrounded by the safe haven of nature, working 40-hour weeks clearing kudzu or building trails, the kids learned to thrive instead of survive.

Today these kids have become leaders in their school, their community and beyond. The groundbreaking partnership between The Howard School and Lookout Mountain Conservancy has become a template for land conservancy agencies across the country. In fact, two interns will accompany Carlton to present at The National Land Conservation Conference this October.

These kids never thought they would amount to anything – they had no hope,” says Carlton. “Now they are setting the standard for all land trusts across the country on community engagement. It’s really become something so much bigger than I could’ve imagined.

One graduate of the program is pursuing his aeronautics degree at TSU and will intern this summer with NASA. Another student is pursuing her political science degree at Davidson College, while another will graduate with three degrees from Hendrix College – all related to environmental science.

Read more of their amazing stories here

Since the programs inception, the interns have concentrated their work on LMC’s 40-acre property that borders Old Wauhatchie Pike and John Wilson Park. They’ve cleared ravines, cut back trails and done landscaping and hardscaping projects to prepare the property for public access once the Riverwalk reaches St. Elmo Avenue – which is slated for mid-August.

This summer they have focused on building a 1.5-mile hiking/biking trail through the property, connecting LMC’s Guild Trail with downtown’s Riverwalk. When that happens, the 40-acre property will become a dynamic outdoor space and gateway to Lookout Mountain trails from downtown.

There will be a natural bouldering park, which the 18 high schoolers have helped clear and landscape. They have created a pollinator garden at John Wilson Park, as well as other properties around the city. They even uncovered an old homestead and smokehouse built into the side of the mountain, which will be available to the public once the trail officially opens.

The LMC’s mission has always been to protect Lookout Mountain’s scenic, historic and ecological resources. Their Intern and Leadership Program at the Howard School has demonstrated that the land can also help solve other challenges in the community.

It underscores the importance of why we do what we do,” says Carlton. “It’s been incredible to watch the kids taping into the power of the land.

Proceeds from “Hot Fun in the Summer Time” support LMC’s conservation efforts as well as their Howard internship program. Walk-ups are welcome, but purchasing tickets online is encouraged to help event organizers prepare for the crowd. Tickets are $45 and include food, beverage and one heck of a good time.

Swing Ding Golf Tournament Stronger Than Ever

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Few things get better with age. Swing Ding – much like the Bratcher red wine awarded to its champion – is one of those things.

Earlier this month the Lookout Mountain Golf Club hosted its annual member/guest tournament, simply known as Swing Ding. And known it is. After more than 50 years it’s earned the reputation of one of the South’s premier events.

Two years ago I invited my good friend from California, Charles Muller, who belongs to a really nice course outside of San Francisco,” says member Nelson Williams. “On the way to the airport on Monday, he confirmed it was the best member-guest he had ever played.

What makes Swing Ding unique is that everyone involved enjoys the tournament. Many of the players’ wives count it as their favorite weekend all year. Kids can be found playing in sand traps or perched atop golf carts for better views in the gallery. Even the event staff is smiling, despite working 17-hour days in some cases.

The members make it great,” says Golf Pro Adam Campbell. “Their pride and love they have for it is contagious. It’s hard to compare.

Before coming to Lookout Mountain Golf Club in 2009, Campbell worked at some of Atlanta’s top golf courses, including Capital City Club. Their member/guest tournament is the same size as Lookout Mountain’s with 80 teams of two, or 160 players. Their membership, however, is over 2,000. LMGC is less than 250.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Swing Ding to LMGC. Families plan their entire year around it, with 3 and sometimes 4 generations represented. Last year an idea was floated for a dedicated Swing Ding website. It was up two days later.

While always popular, the tournament has become even more celebrated in recent years. When Campbell first started at LMGC, he remembers calling members to fill spots. This year the tournament was full with a wait list within a few hours – despite a snowy registration day.

It just gets better and better every year,” says Tom Jones, a member since the early ‘80s and former Swing Ding Chair. “[Swing Ding Chair] David Bennett deserves a tremendous amount of credit for constantly coming up with improvements while staying true to its traditions.

Started in 1959 by Jack Lupton and John Stout, Sr., the tournament’s original vision was “a big weekend party with a little bit of golf thrown in.” There are celebrations every night after play, with bands playing throughout the weekend under the big red-and-white striped tent.

The weekend kicks off Wednesday with a Kids’ Par 3 for ages 6 to 13, followed by a special dinner and awards ceremony. The dads even dress in white jumpsuits and caddy for their kids.
Thursday there are dueling men’s and women’s cocktail parties upstairs and downstairs at the clubhouse. Friday night is dinner and dancing under the tent, and Saturday is Family Night complete with hayrides, bluegrass and pint-sized golf contests.

On Sunday, the sounds of the Dixieland Jazz Band float throughout the course, mingling with the smells of grilled perfection coming from Tim Miller at the West House.

The festive air doesn’t dilute the seriousness of the golf. Make no mistake: winning Swing Ding is a big deal. In addition to year-long bragging rights, the champions earn the coveted Red Jacket (a nod to Augusta’s green version). They also have their own caricature drawn, which hangs in perpetuity in the men’s grill downstairs.
Every flight winner is awarded Bratcher Winery’s specially made “Red Jacket” wine and glasses etched with the Swing Ding logo.

The special touches during play go far beyond your typical member/guest. Every team is announced on the first tee, and greeters hand out Swing Ding logoed balls on the driving range (all staffed by volunteers). Junior golfers also give of their time. They report at 7:30 a.m. each morning to be ball spotters, donning hard hats and red shirts.

The excitement for Sunday’s final round is felt throughout the community, with many non-golfers joining to watch the leaders.

It’s unbelievable the support,” says 7-time champion Pat Corey. “On Sunday you might have a couple hundred people following the championship flight.

An additional 81 golf carts are brought in to accommodate the spectators. Golf cart galleries will follow players hole to hole, parking around the greens wherever they can find a spot. When asked if this damages the greens – particularly during this year’s thunderstorms – members shrug and say, “It’s Swing Ding.”

It’s Swing Ding, so you kind of let up on all that,” says David Bennett. “You have kids running across the greens, playing in traps in smocked outfits. It’s just what we do.

Professional photographer Sarah Foley was hired to capture the event. To view and/or order pictures, visit . www.swing-ding.com

District Baseball Tournament Comes to Lookout this Weekend

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The 7- and 8-year-old Dixie Youth Baseball District Tournament comes to Lookout Mountain's Senter Field this weekend at the Town Commons. Games will be held Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Monday evening. The tournament is a yearly tradition, with Lookout Mountain hosting a different age group each year.

Lookout Mountain’s 7- and 8-year-olds will face off against Red Bank this Friday at 7:30 p.m. They’ll go on to play Saturday at either 11 or 12:30 p.m., depending on if they win. The 9- and 10-year-old District Tournament will also take place this weekend in Red Bank, while the 11- and 12-year-olds move to the state tournament in Loretta, Tenn.

Head over to the Commons this weekend for your dose of summer youth baseball. Games begin Friday at 6:00 p.m

Make Arrangements to Buy This Book

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Your next beach book will soon be out! Ferris Robinson’s debut novel, Making Arrangements, will be released on Amazon Kindle on July 5.

If you voted for it during her Kindle Scout campaign this spring, you should have already been notified it’s available for download. Otherwise, you can pre-order the e-book through Amazon or contact her directly for a hard copy, which should arrive later this month.

Ferris Robinson is the author of five books, editor of the Mountain Mirror and a regular columnist at Chattanoogan.com. Published numerous times in the Christian Science Monitor and Chicken Soup for the Soul series, she writes about her life – the good, the bad, the crazy – with a humor to which everyone can appreciate and relate. Making Arrangements is her first fiction novel.

For more details, contact her at ferrisrobinson@gmail.com.

Top Runners Attracted to Lookout Mountain for this Weekend's Stage Race

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60 miles. 3 mountains. 3 days. That’s what is attracting some of the top runners in the country to Lookout Mountain this weekend.

The Wild Trails Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race kicks off today, celebrating its 10th anniversary with about 150 racers. And while it began as a local contest, this year’s race welcomes one of the fastest 100K runners in American history, Patrick Reagan of Savannah, Ga.

Other notable names include Ooltewah’s Bob Adams, winner of March’s inaugural Chattanooga Marathon; Chattanooga’s Daniel Hamilton, winner Wild Trail’s Lookout Mountain 50 miler; and David Kilgore of Palm Bay, Fla., the race’s all-time record holder.

The Stage Race will span 3 days, starting with 18 miles on Raccoon Mountain, 22 miles on Lookout Mountain followed by a 20-mile grand finale on Signal Mountain. The Lookout Mountain portion takes place at Lula Lake Falls and includes grueling climbs – the first one is so steep, you need to use a rope to pull you up the side of the mountain. Scrapes and bruises are almost guaranteed, both the physical kind and those of the ego.

While popular in Europe, stage races are relatively rare in the United States – particularly in the Southeast. However, the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race continues to grow in popularity thanks to the area’s diverse trail offerings and the work of Wild Trails, directed by Randy Whorton.

Ferris Robinson's First Novel Accepted into Kindle Scout

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After more than 20 years as a freelance writer there are very few places Ferris Robinson’s byline hasn’t appeared– newspapers, e-zines, magazines, coffee table books…even cookbooks. But the one place that eluded her remained a lifelong dream: on the cover of a novel.

It’s always been a goal,” she says. “It’s one of those things, if I dropped dead tomorrow and never tried I would’ve deeply regretted it.

So she wrote that novel four years ago. After sending what felt like a gazillion copies to publishing houses across the country, she stumbled upon a literary agent in New York specializing in women’s fiction. It seemed the stars had finally aligned for the Lookout Mountain native.

And then…nothing.

“She tried to sell it for about a year,” recalls Robinson. “I was so discouraged after that, I put it in a drawer and forgot about it.”

It might have stayed there too if Alice Smith – Robinson’s friend and literary sounding board – hadn’t encouraged her to revisit it. Robinson went through it again, and again, and again. Its current iteration hardly resembles the piece she started with.

“Even to this day, every time I read it I make a change!” she laughs.

Her hard work paid off this spring however, when her first novel, Making Arrangements was accepted into Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. The brand new platform allows readers a chance to help decide if a book gets published based on its first few chapters. Authors submit their works to Kindle Scout for approval into a 30-day campaign. Readers “scout” the site, nominating up to three books at a time.

Selection standards are almost as secretive as Google algorithms. Readers’ votes count but do not ultimately determine if a book gets published. Once selected, eBooks are published through Kindle Press and given the enviable advantage of Amazon’s marketing. Authors are also given an advance and eBook royalties.

“I was thrilled when I heard the news – I couldn’t stop screaming!” she says.

Another big perk of Kindle Scout is that authors retain the print publishing rights. Robinson has already ordered hard copies and plans to sell them locally later this month (as soon as Kindle Scout announces the eBook release date). Stay tuned to Living On Lookout for updates.

About the author

Ferris Robinson is the author of five books, editor of the Mountain Mirror and a regular columnist at Chattanoogan.com. Published numerous times in the Christian Science Monitor and Chicken Soup for the Soul series, she writes about her life – the good, the bad, the crazy – with a humor to which everyone can appreciate and relate. Making Arrangements is her first fiction novel.

Bike, Hike, Climb Lookout Mountain

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Turning 100 is a pretty big deal. The National Park Service is kicking off its centennial celebration in style, with events at parks across the country. Party central for Chattanooga is at Lookout Mountain’s Cravens House.

This Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. you can see Lookout Mountain in a new way, whether that’s scaling the face of its cliffs, gliding down its trails by bike or letting history unfold as you hike along its paths.

The National Park Service staff has partnered with Outdoor Chattanooga to ensure you can hike, bike or climb Lookout Mountain safely, guided by volunteers and/or staff. All events will stage with registration at Cravens House, and you’re encouraged to bring water and appropriate clothing. See below for details.

  • Rock Climbing: 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with registration slots every hour. Includes a 1-mile hike from Cravens House to the climbing area near Sunset Rock. Park at Cravens House ONLY.

  • Mountain Biking: Rides will begin at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. at Cravens House. If you need a bike, you can pre-register for one by calling Outdoor Chattanooga at (423) 643-6888. (Limited number available)

  • Hiking: Approximately 2-4 mile hikes begin at Cravens House at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. Moderate difficulty. Wear sturdy hiking shoes.

Summer Day Camps on Lookout Mountain

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If the first few weeks of school have you wondering when school starts, may we suggest some camps on Lookout Mountain to fill the days? There are plenty of options with a wide range of interests, ranging from engineering to outdoor exploring. It’s never too late to squeeze in one more week of fun.

Naturalist Camp at Reflection Riding
Catering to ages 6 to 13, Reflection Riding will have your little explorer hiking, canoeing, feeding animals and even wallowing in a mud pit. Older campers will enjoy field trips like hiking the base of Lula Lake Falls and exploring a cave at Raccoon Mountain Caverns. See their website for dates and prices.

Commons Camp
Join the tradition with Commons Camp, entertaining Lookout Mountain little ones since the ‘40s. Crafts, dodge ball, ping pong, story time, snow cones and water days are all part of the fun, as well as plenty of time in the new gladiator pit. Running June 6 through July 22, hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 6-12 year olds. Four and five year olds are welcomed Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon. Fees are $175 for the summer, or $15 each day ($90 or $10 per day for the Kiddie Program). You can pay upon arrival or mail your check to Lookout Mountain Recreation Board, PO Box 413, Lookout Mountain, TN 37350.

Camp Invention
Next-generation inventors will not want to miss this “Epic” opportunity. Mini Mr. Wizards will create solar-powered, robotic crickets; design zip lines and water flumes for “Epic Park;” explore the science behind 3D printing and so much more. Real world challenges are also covered, like creating business pitches and soliciting feedback from fellow inventors. Cost is $220 for all week (July 18 - July 22), 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Learn more

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