Social life on the mountain includes youth soccer leagues, Sunday services, holiday suppers and summer movie nights at Carter Field, tennis teams and the long, slow spin of a perfect putt across a gorgeous green.

We are a community built for fun, for families, and for the moments that give life meaning.

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.

Cravens House Christmas Open House

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If it’s time to overhaul your Christmas décor, consider looking to years past for inspiration. Say…last century? On Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5 from 6 to 8 p.m., the Cravens House will hold its annual Christmas Open House – a rare glimpse of the home as it would have appeared 150 years ago.

“It is a magical night, bathed mostly in candlelight, with the city lights twinkling in the distance,” says Eve Soltau, a member of Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club who decorates the house each year.

The evening is an immersion in the Christmas traditions of the Victorian era, from dress to decorations to music. Rangers lead groups of 12 through the home, with living historians in each room giving brief talks.

“I like that people get to see Christmas from a time period and experience what people did 150 years ago,” says Anton Heinlein, the park ranger coordinating the event. “It’s kind of remarkable to see the similarities from then to now.”

Considered to be the first year-round resident of Lookout Mountain, Robert Cravens built his now-famous home shortly after moving to area in 1838. During the Civil War it served as Confederate Headquarters, but when the war turned in favor of the North, Union soldiers tore out the floorboards and wall boards for firewood, souvenirs and various other purposes.

Cravens rebuilt his home after the war in 1866, where it stands as a monument to Lookout Mountain’s first settlers. The Cravens Holiday Open House is the only time you can tour the home outside of its regular summer hours. Tours start every 30 minutes, and reservations are required due to capacity constraints.

To make your reservations, call the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor’s Center at 423-821-7786.

Rock Creek Aviation Takes Off

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Watching the leaves change on Lookout Mountain will never get old. But a local father-daughter team wants you to see them from a completely new perspective – as in 10,000 feet up in the air.

If you’ve ever dreamed of soaring above the brow, Michelle and Michael Warren of Rock Creek Aviation have got you covered. Seating up to three in their Robinson R44 helicopter, they’ve given custom aerial tours for birthdays, anniversaries…they’ve even provided a grand exit for an adventurous bride and groom.

Don’t worry if you’re altitude adverse. Their bread-and-butter business is actually aerial photography. They’ve captured action shots of the Iron Man triathlon, bird’s-eye-view footage of Mocs games, and endless frame-worthy photos highlighting our area’s natural beauty. They’ve also filmed scenes for music videos, television…even movies.

Some of Michelle’s earliest memories include flying with her dad – waking up to the smell of the plane after a nap, or listening to him explain the physics of an airplane’s lift.

For as long as I can remember my dad has held his camera in one hand, the strap wrapped around his wrist, while also being completely consumed with all things in flight,” she recalls. “It was through my father’s interest in photography that I learned how to capture compositions.

These days it’s primarily Michael as pilot and Michelle as photographer. The two work together so seamlessly, she can have part of her body out of the helicopter and direct him in different directions and heights without ever taking her eye off the camera’s viewfinder. And while working with family can sometimes cause turbulence, Michelle says it’s been an easy fit.

“I feel like we’ve been working together on small projects since as long as I can remember,” she says. “My dad never gave me a simple OR short answer – there was always problem solving and experimenting to find a solution.”

Some of Michael’s favorite projects include shooting footage for movies Hamlet & Hutch and Remnants, as well as video for HGTV’s Extreme Decks, which captured decks along the brows of nearby mountains. Michelle enjoyed working on Tim McGraw’s music video, which ran like a well-oiled machine. They would film, land, and a van would pull up beside them to review footage, ensuring it was exactly what they wanted.

"After about the second or third scene the young man in charge of memory cards suggested to the director that he change the memory card each time ‘so that if they crash we won’t lose everything,’" Michael says with a laugh. “I guess it made sense – he was doing his job."

While dangers in flight exist, Michelle has never felt nervous when in the air with her father, an experienced pilot who’s been logging hours since high school. He became interested in helicopters about 14 years ago, telling his wife he thought he’d take a few lessons and “get it out of his system.” Since then he’s logged more than 2,000 helicopter hours.

He’s an incredibly safe, talented and adventurous pilot and always wants to share his passion by getting anyone and everyone up in the air,” she says. “Once you're in the air, you realize how small we really are. To be able to share the experience with people who have never flown their entire lives – or the few who have flown in wars and are having their first peaceful flight ever – is humbling.

New Manager (and Event) at Talus Restaurant

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Before we know it Mother Nature will paint our mountain with fall color. At Talus Restaurant, Chef/Owner Erick Wood felt it was time to turn over some new leaves of his own. A new menu is planned for October as well as renovations to the main dining area.

But the most significant change is hiring a new service manager, Rainey Hartman. Working more than a decade in food service – in everything from fine dining to fast food – the West Palm Beach native is taking an interesting approach to his new position.

Basically I want you to hurt my feelings," he smiles. “I want to know when we do wrong just as much as when we do right so I know what we can do to better serve people.

Since starting in August, Hartman has made it his goal to personally interact with every table. Acknowledging service has been inconsistent in the past, Wood and Hartman are asking for another chance. Hartman’s presence in the front of the house allows Wood to focus on what he does best – making magic in the kitchen.

When I first started I noticed a lot of things that had evolved because of inexperienced management,” says Hartman. “While we’ve worked to make changes, it’s not something that will happen overnight. Mistakes are going to happen – if you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying hard enough. But we do hope to correct them immediately and learn from each one.

One thing that hasn’t changed is Wood’s desire to engage with and give back to his community. This Thursday he’s planning one of his well-known throw downs for a cause – “Lookout Strong – Honor the Sacrifice.”

After our city was devastated by the July 16 shootings, Wood felt compelled to help. He developed the idea along with loyal Talus patron Don Morris, board member of Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation. Since 2013, the local nonprofit has donated more than $80,000 to support the unique needs of service members and their families.

Do your part by joining the Talus crew from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. this Thursday. Expect live music, fresh specials from the grill, draft beers and a chance to meet and support the folks of Honoring the Sacrifice.

I feel so fortunate to be a part of such a strong community,” says Wood. “We’re hoping for a great turnout to demonstrate Lookout Mountain’s support of the sacrifice our troops have made, and continue to make every day.

A Parent’s Guide to LMS Carnival

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Forget the leaves changing – the highlight of fall for Lookout Mountain children is the LMS Carnival. Now in its 68th year, the iconic fundraiser for Lookout Mountain School attracts kids from across the mountain. And while it’s all about the kids, there are still a few things in it for you.

This year as you corral their shoes at the bouncy house and negotiate demands for more tickets, take a deep breath and remember these perks:

  • DINNER IS DONE! Avoid the weekday dinner struggle. Carnival has you covered with a mouthwatering menu that includes Bone’s BBQ, Mr. T’s pizza, Chickfila and hot dogs. Also new this year – hot pretzels! Dessert can be Clumpies Ice Cream, snow cones or hand-spun cotton candy. Parenting rule #302 – it isn’t junk food if it’s for a good cause!

  • DINNER IS DONE FOR MONTHS! Do NOT miss your chance to stock your freezer with homemade goodies from Carnival Kitchen. Every parent contributes casseroles, soups, stews, homemade breads, cakes and more goodies so you can always have something stashed away for last minute dinners or to take to a neighbor. Making life easier all while supporting a great cause? Score one for you Mom!

  • GET A JUMP ON CHRISTMAS SHOPPING. Don’t pass up the Carnival Marketplace, where the main attraction is hand-painted murals from each grade level. Carnival is your chance to bid on these priceless works from your little artist. But even if you don’t place the winning bid, you can still order mugs and stationery printed with your child’s class mural. Also don’t miss the LMS keepsake ornaments and directory. (Stocking stuffers anyone?) And since Carnival can be hectic, we have an order form here. Hey, you’re welcome.

  • A CHANCE TO BE A KID. Watch your kid’s jaw drop as you saddle up to the newest Carnival addition – a mechanical bull! This show stopper will be front and center on the field so you can’t miss it. Also new is the “High Strikers” booth, a classic test-your-strength game with mallet and bell.

  • A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP. After endless rounds of ‘silly string chase’ (compliments of the Children’s Corner), racing in the bouncy obstacle course and running from booth to booth all afternoon, your kiddo is almost guaranteed to be completely worn out. Settle them in with a stuffed animal from the Cuddly Corner and their Jamboree Jar on their bedside table, and pat yourself on the back for another successful Carnival year.

Lookout Mountain Goes to the (Fonty) Dogs

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It started as a church softball league…but a Fonty Dog gathering is anything but reverent. In fact most memories from their summer league (and subsequent after-parties) aren’t fit to print.

“Some of the guys might not be too happy if I shared,” laughs Tim Moore, who’s organizing the reunion this weekend. “Let’s just say when some of the Fonty Dogs went to the Frosty Mug before the game that greatly affected our win/loss record.”

It was a different time when the team formed in 1970. Muscle cars were all the rage, the legal drinking age was 18, and softball was KING. In fact Moore later wrote a story about Chattanooga softball for The Washington Post Sunday Magazine when working as a journalist in D.C. While maybe not the most serious in the league, one of the Fonty Dogs did go on to play semi-professional baseball.

But mostly the games were an excuse to socialize. Every Tuesday and Thursday night, large crowds would gather under the lights at the Lookout Mountain Town Commons. Parents and friends would sit on the wall to cheer. (The most devoted female fans were Fonty Dogettes.)

Afterwards, they would hop in their Mustangs and Firebirds and race down the mountain to their next “game” at the Frosty Mug. The team brought together guys from different high schools, forming friendships that have spanned the decades.

“It’s been a lifetime of memories with a group of really great guys,” says Moore.

This weekend they return to their old stompin’ grounds for a Fonty Dog reunion. Team members from across the country are coming (only about half of the 30-person team still live on Lookout). While called a reunion, the festivities are open to everyone. There’s always room on the bench for like-minded individuals, but they do ask you to register for a “wet nose” count.

“If you like to have fun, you’re invited,” laughs Moore.

There will be softball, restaurant meet-ups for nearly every meal, golf and the main event – FontyStock. Held this Sunday at the Commons, FontyStock will have inflatables for the pups, live music from the Missionary Blues Band, food from Café on the Corner and plenty of “Frosty Mugs.”

The ‘70’s hit band, The Lovin’ Spoonful are on reserve, but so far they’re about 175 tickets shy of meeting their attendance requirement.

“Even the Fonty Dogs have limits,” jokes Mooore. “We have to sell 400 tickets to have the Lovin’ Spoonful. At this moment it looks like the Dogs are going to lose another one.”

Weather is also a factor, but the team remains optimistic that the only thing pouring Sunday will be the beer. As long as the sun is out, so are the bell bottoms and muscle cars. As for the band, get your ticket today…because this former church softball league is hoping for a miracle.

See weekend lineup, make reservations and buy tickets here

Heavy Rains Cause Flooding and Put Damper on Weekend Activities

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Exceptionally heavy rainfall in the area has caused flooding on Scenic Highway, particularly at the intersection of Ruby Falls and Cummings Highway. Commuters were caught in the surprise downpour earlier this afternoon, which swept water, rocks, trees and other debris into the road.

The wet week has also put a damper on the annual Baseball Parade and first annual community block party, planned for the area in front of Tennessee stores. Soggy fields have made the game impossible according to Coach Rick Dockery, Tennessee Director of Parks and Playgrounds.

“This is disappointing but our goal is focus on trying to get the fields ready for the first of next week,” he writes in an email. “We will try to have the parade next weekend, but if for some reason we cannot get it in on the 25th we will have to cancel so we can concentrate on the games.”

Keep checking back to or our Facebook page for updates.

The block party – “April on Lookout” – will definitely happen next weekend says organizer Erick Wood, chef/owner of Talus Restaurant. The all day celebration, originally planned for April 18, will be held April 25 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Sponsored by Talus, Yessick’s Design Center and Mountain Escape Spa, the outdoor festival will feature a plant sale, pet adoptions, live music and family entertainment. Native plants will come from Reflection Riding, and proceeds will benefit DART (Dade Animal Rescue Team).

The parking lot in front of the stores will be cordoned off, featuring craft vendors selling everything from handmade bird houses to jewelry. Yessicks will offer 20% off everything in the store (except bedding plants and hanging baskets).

Mountain Escape Spa will offer 10% off all products and gift certificates. You can also enjoy an in-store makeup demonstration while the kids take advantage of the video game truck just outside.

Talus will set up tables and chairs in front of their restaurant, offering live music by Courtney Daily and a keg truck featuring local brews. They will also debut a new gourmet burger featuring ground pork belly.

“It’s a great excuse to get people out of the house,” says Wood. “We’ve all been stuck inside for months with snow and rain. I think we’re more than ready to celebrate warmer weather.”

Dr. Chris Moore Accepts New Position at Baylor School

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Outdoor adventure has profoundly shaped Dr. Chris Moore’s career. This spring, he returns to Baylor School as director of Baylor Journeys, a program he hopes will inspire everyone to get outside.

His resume reads more like a best-selling novel. Chris Moore, M.D., has lived with an Amazonian tribe for eight days, whitewater rafted in Siberia and was with one of the first medical teams to land in Haiti after the earthquake.

Since graduating University of Virginia in 1972, he’s served as Chief Medical Officer at Hutcheson Medical Center, founded Outdoor Chattanooga, launched Baylor School’s Walkabout program, and developed one of the nation’s first environmentally focused subdivisions, Long Branch.

“I’m cursed with having a lot of interests,” he humbly laughs.

But it’s more like many talents.

The common thread knitting it all together is his love of adventure – particularly outdoors. In fact, it was his time leading high schoolers in remote locations on Walkabout expeditions that prompted his decision to go to medical school at age 33.

“I felt the need to know more about taking care of people remotely,” he says. “I started taking courses in wilderness medicine. They piqued my interest, which led to a desire to know more and more.”

Today he’s a national figure in the field, bringing the first wilderness medicine conference to Chattanooga in the late ‘90s. Before then, experts in the field scoffed at the idea of a national conference anywhere but out West.

“That event shed a great light on Chattanooga with physicians and medical personnel from as many as 22 states,” he says. “First time visitors were always blown away at what our area has to offer.”

Many of those amenities lie on Lookout Mountain, where Moore grew up and now lives with his wife Ellen. Moore has a deep appreciation for his hometown – a place that not only sparked but also nurtured his career.

We are incredibly blessed on Lookout Mountain with immediate access to the outdoors,” he says. “I remember climbing the rocks and hiking the trails near West Brow as a kid. Later those same areas had everything to do with the early success of Walkabout as well as the wilderness medicine conference. You can offer hands-on workshops in rivers, caves, rocks all in one place.

In fact when welcoming his colleagues to his hometown, he had such a hard time organizing activities for the off-time he decided the city needed a clearinghouse of information for outdoor amenities. That led to him forming Outdoor Chattanooga, a for-profit entity he later gifted to the city.

“That first year I had whitewater trips, caving, hikes – all through friends I called up,” he says. “There was no liability insurance or anything. I started Outdoor Chattanooga somewhat naively, thinking I could do it on the side and still keep my regular work as a physician and work on the conference.”

The entity quickly took on a life of its own. One winter during a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail with then-mayor Bob Corker, Moore started talking about how the city should support the organization. This led to one of Corker’s now-famous charrettes, a community planning process like Vision 2000.

“It was clear to me the bigger beneficiary of Outdoor Chattanooga was our community rather than someone like me owning it,” he says. “I remember the first meeting was held at the Chattanoogan with over 900 people. It was one of the most highly attended charrettes, which shows the city’s interest in the outdoors.”

While Moore spent nearly three decades practicing “traditional” medicine – starting in family practice then transitioning to sports and emergency medicine – his career path has been anything but standard. This spring, he has accepted a position back at his alma mater as director of a new program, Baylor Journeys.

As an offshoot of Walkabout, the new travel program is aimed at alums, parents, past parents, and friends of the school (young and old). While Moore is known for more “hard core” excursions, he promises something for everyone – offering cultural trips, thrill-seeking outdoor adventures, and everything in between.

I’m excited at the opportunity to create another program that spurs a love of adventure,” he says. “I think we’re evolving as a society to where it’s not about what you have, but what you do and what you’ve experienced.

While numerous colleges have started similar programs, Moore has yet to come across any high schools doing it. With his extensive outdoor and travel experience, coupled with his expertise in wilderness medicine, it’s certain that the program’s future is in good hands.

Mountain Spotlight: Roddy Reynolds

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Whenever someone on Lookout Mountain sees an exceptionally well-behaved dog, one question comes to mind: Is that a Roddy Dog?

Roddy Reynolds of Blowing Springs Kennels has been breeding and training dogs for more than 30 years. Walking his nearly 50-acre training facility at the foot of Lookout Mountain, the difference is immediately clear. His climate-controlled kennel is spotless and quiet, even when at its 45-dog capacity.

That’s because Reynolds employs a unique “flushing system,” air circulation, humidity control and his famous “no-bark” policy. He doesn’t train every dog he boards, but he quickly nips any bad habits in the bud such as chewing, incessant barking and digging.

Training doesn’t take long if you’re speaking their language,” he says, surrounded by half a dozen chocolate labs in his indoor training area. With one word, all of them leap onto a high bench and wait patiently for their next command. Their eyes trained on Reynolds, they would sit for hours if he asked them to.

But that’s not all. His proteges can dive to the bottom of a lake to retrieve something, “drive” golf carts, leap over 5-foot fences and even walk each other on a leash. Relying on praise and pressure, his methods aren’t too far from raising a child – start early, be consistent, use effective communication.

If one of his pups does something Reynolds doesn’t like, he responds with a “bite” – a quick nip with his hands at the dog’s shoulder, much like his or her mother would do.

"People like to talk a lot about positive reinforcement in animal training, but name one animal who uses treats to train their young?” he asks. “The animal learns to do something for the treat, not because you told him so."

His methods are intentional but far from punishing. Instead of lying food and water out all day, dogs learn to follow the trainer to eat. They don’t chew their toys to pieces; playtime is high energy and interactive, and dogs are expected to wait patiently until that time.

“Giving your dog food and toys and expecting nothing in return is like humans getting a paycheck no matter what,” he explains. “If you act like a maid, you teach your dog that you are his servant.”

If this seem opposite of everything you’ve ever known about dogs, that’s exactly the point. Even so, Reynolds is far from a drill sergeant with his dogs. His three personal pets are his constant companions, lounging on cots in his office every day.

“I’ve done field trial training and while those dogs do an exceptional job, they aren’t the kind to hang out in your house,” he says. “I wanted both a hunting dog and a pet, which is how I developed my approach to training.”

It’s also how he approaches breeding. There’s a long checklist when finding a mate for his long-time pet, Chief. Head, ears, coat and facial features all have to be just right. He’s looking for exceptional hunting dogs – mostly field champions – but with sweet dispositions.

“It can take years to find the right match,” he says. “Sometimes I can’t really put into words what I’m looking for, but I’ve driven as far as Montana and Texas to find the right mate.”

Since puppies are a rarity, his bread and butter business is training. In a relatively short amount of time, Reynolds and his staff can accomplish anything from breaking bad habits to training service dogs. His focus, however, is “Gun Dog” training.

Blowing Springs welcomes any medium to large size pup under 2 years of age, and draws dogs from all over the Southeast. It’s also one of the only facilities in the nation to work with aggressive dogs.

The most comprehensive program is Reynold’s all-inclusive boarding option. For $1,200 ($1,000 for puppies) dogs spend one month at Blowing Springs, learning everything from basic obedience to dock jumping and retrieving. Private and group lessons are also available ($100 for private; $200 for four 1-hour group classes).

There’s just one requirement – owner involvement. Reynolds strongly recommends visiting as often as possible to understand how to speak their dog’s language.

The hardest part of my job is training the owners,” he says with a smile.

Blowing Springs Kennel is located at 370 Chattanooga Valley Road, Flintstone, GA. Open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., the facility is open for tours during business hours. For more information, visit their website or call 423-413-2314.

mARkeT Madness this Saturday

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March Madness is coming to Lookout Mountain. This weekend, the monthly artist’s market – mARkeT Above the Clouds – invites all ages to vie for top spot in their obstacle course competition. Held on the front lawn of Georgia’s City Hall, you can show your skills in the three legged races, bocce ball, bean bag tosses, egg races and more.

While you’re there, enter to win the grand prize of dinner for 4 at the Chattanoogan’s chef’s table. To enter, simply buy an item from any vendor and receive a ticket for the drawing (held that day at 3:15 p.m.).

Vendors this month include Grace Ratchford with “Graceful Art,” Ashley Roe with “Roe’s Garden,” Emily Bradford with “Coyote Cove Farms” lotions and soap, Beth Spear with “Thirty-One Gifts,” Heather Droke with her air plant and succulent arrangements plus Jim & Allyson’s hotdog with all the fixin’s cart.

March will be one of the last indoor markets, set up in the four-bay garage behind City Hall. As truly a community event, becoming a vendor is absolutely free and can be done by calling organizer Grace Ratchford at 423-991-9940.


Christ Reformed Baptist Church
Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal
Cloudland Canyon
Cravens House
Hang Gliding
Incline Railway
Lookout Mountain Mirror
Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church
Our Lady of the Mount Catholic Church
Point Park
Rock City
Ruby Falls
Sunset Rock
The Battles for Chattanooga Museum
The Lookout Mountain Club
Town Commons – Lookout Mountain, TN
United Methodist