What makes Lookout Mountain home

What's on your summer bucket list? A hike to Glen Falls? A mountain bike ride on the Cloudland Connector Trail? Or maybe a road trip to Nashville to see Alan Shuptrine's new watercolor exhibit?

The season has already kicked off with Community Movie Night. There's another in August and here's 5 reasons you can't miss it. Get ready for the fun, because summers on Lookout are anything but lazy!

Cloudland Connector Trail Grand Opening

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This Friday, Lula Lake Land Trust (LLLT) will unveil the final phase of its Cloudland Connector Trail. All told, it includes 60 miles of trails weaving through 10,000 contiguous acres of Georgia’s most biologically diverse land. And while that’s an impressive feat, land isn’t the only thing getting connected with this project.

The partnership between Lula Lake Land Trust and Georgia Department of Natural Resources is truly one of the best partnerships we have ever experienced,” says Joe Yeager, Region 1 Manger for Georgia State Parks. “The dedication of so many folks has made this project successful.

The Connector Trail has brought together the “A-team” of the conservation community, including the Benwood Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, SORBA Chattanooga, Friends of Cloudland Canyon State Park, Walker County Government, Dade County Government, Georgia Land Trust, The Trust for Public Land, WILD Trails & Rock/Creek, USDA Forest Service, Rock Creek Fellowship, local contractors Stan Gravitt and Charlie Smith and of course, Lula Lake Land Trust.

“It’s a testament to the strength of private/public partnerships,” says Tricia King-Mims, LLLT development director. “The state helps manage the trailheads and provide rangers, while we utilize our strengths of acquiring land, structuring conservation easements and engaging our volunteer base.”

The project has also connected residents and tourists to the land – a key part of Lula Lake’s mission. The 5-Point Trail, which opened several years ago, is hailed by mountain bikers as some of the finest single track in the country. The world-class trail system also attracts trail runners, horseback riders, hikers and even bird watchers from all over.

“The trails so far have created a tremendous amount of tourism for this rural area,” says King-Mims. “It’s really a great story of land being reclaimed and repurposed, and driving economic development rooted in conservation rather than mining or clear-cut timber harvesting.”

From 2012 to 2013, the state reported a 25 percent increase in revenue from the $5 parking fees at already open trailheads. This final phase, which links the trail system to Cloudland Canyon State Park, promises to drive even more eco-tourism to the area.

A decade in the making, the Cloudland Connector Trail is the capstone of Robert Davenport’s vision to protect and promote the land of the Rock Creek watershed. Since establishing Lula Lake Land Trust through his will in 1994, the organization has worked to acquire and protect as much land as possible. In 2004, the Trust realized their unique opportunity to form a greenway from Nick-a-Jack Road all the way to Cloudland Canyon State Park.

The ribbon cutting on Friday provides locals the unique opportunity to be some of the first on the new trail section, namely the 60-foot bridge spanning Bear Creek. In addition to food, the Folk School of Chattanooga will provide traditional Appalachian music.

Lookout residents are incredibly lucky to have a world-class trail system like this in their backyard,” says King-Mims. “As more people find out about it, we think it has the potential for raising property values as well as attracting new residents and businesses to the area.

(NOTE: The ceremony will take place inside Cloudland Canyon State Park. Follow signs from the front entrance or ask directions at the welcome center.)

See map of the entire trail.

Life On Lookout

Cloudland Connector Trail Grand Opening

Be the first to walk the final section of the Cloudland Connector Trail
Friday, June 27, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA

Life On Lookout

Cloudland Connector Trail Grand Opening

Be the first to walk the final section of the Cloudland Connector Trail
Friday, June 27, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Rising Fawn, GA

Why I Love Lookout: Melissa Lusk

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While Melissa and Ryan Lusk enjoyed their Manhattan lifestyle, they knew it wasn’t the place they wanted to start a family. So when a recruiter contacted Ryan about a job in Cleveland, Tenn., the couple decided to take a chance. Neither had ties to the area – Melissa grew up in California and Ryan in Chicago – but his parents had relocated to Atlanta.

When house hunting, they immediately dismissed Lookout because they didn’t want to drive up and down the mountain every day (let alone the 40-plus minute commute to Cleveland). But their realtor convinced them to just look. They were completely taken aback.

I think Lookout Mountain is the best kept secret in the South,” says Melissa. “It’s funny because prior to moving here, if I had to imagine the perfect place to live, I don’t know if I could have even come up with this. It has surpassed all of our expectations.

Their new hometown wasn’t the only surprise. Just weeks after moving, they found out Melissa was expecting. Months later when they welcomed their daughter Savannah, complete strangers were dropping off casseroles and gifts on their new front porch.

"I’ve been blown away by how supportive this community is,” she says. “The ironic thing is before moving to the South I worried we’d be entering into this impenetrable niche community. It’s so different that what I thought it would be.”

I've been blown away by how supportive this community is.

While Melissa and Ryan aren’t native Southerners, both have spent time below the Mason Dixon. The two met at graduate school at Duke, and Melissa lived briefly in Virginia. Even so, nothing compares to Lookout, says Melissa.

“This is so rare to find,” she says. “When Savannah was born my mom came and stayed with us for a month. She’s lived all over the world, and even she says she’s never seen anything like Lookout Mountain. I don’t know of another place like this.”

I don't know of another place like this.

If there is, she probably won’t find it. After nearly two years on Lookout, she can’t imagine living anywhere else. “I definitely see why people move here and never leave. We don’t see ourselves leaving anytime soon – we just love it here.”

Girl (and Cookie) Power

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The next time you tear into a box of Thin Mints, feel good about that decision. That’s because 100 percent of Girl Scout cookie profits stay local, helping create unique experiences for girls and supporting local causes.

While much of the income is managed by Girl Scouts of the USA, each troop keeps a percentage to use at their discretion. Lookout Mountain, Tennessee’s Troop 40424 recently donated part of those profits to Lula Lake Land Trust. The troop met with LLLT Executive Director Mike Pollock, who gave them an introduction to the Trust’s mission and goals. After the check presentation, he led them on a hike to the falls.

Lookout Mountain, Georgia’s Troop 40010 also donated a portion of their earnings to Fairyland Elementary School’s aquaponics greenhouse project. Cookie profits also helped fund their spring camping trip earlier this month at Desoto State Park.

If you didn’t get a chance to buy cookies this year, don’t worry. There will be many more delicious years to come.

How You Can Support Treetop Hideaways

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Pre-Booking Treehouse Nights $275-$350

You can book a night in the treehouse today at sleepinatree.co. We are currently taking
reservations through Airbnb, until we get everything else up and running. Weekdays are $275, Weekends & Holidays are $350 as listed on the booking calendar.

Your Personal Treehouse Retreat $800-$1500

Similar to a timeshare, you can get a block of nights for discounted prices, providing you with a place to go when you want to get away from it all. In this option we provide you with 4 or 8 nights to be used at your discretion within the upcoming year. (additional charges for peak nights and holidays may apply) Availability can be seen at sleepinatree.co/reservations

4 nights at a 26% discount = $800 (total value $1100)

8 nights at a 34% discount = $1500 (total value $2200)

The Corporate Treehouse $2,000

This is an opportunity to position your company in a very unique way. Having special guests, clients, partners, or employees stay in your “corporate treehouse” will make a lasting impression, and says a lot about your organizational culture. This is also a promotional opportunity for you to position your business as a supporter of sustainability as a parter in this project. Here’s what you get:

- 4 treehouse nights to be used for whatever the company would like (rewards, recruiting, company functions).

-a special hospitality package of local goods for each guest

-your company name and logo on the front door of the treehouse during your guest’s stay

-prominent signage at the location listing your company as a founding supporter of the project

-mention as a supporter on our website, in appropriate publications and social media

-bragging rights to backing the world's 1st Living Building Certified Treehouse

-plaque to hang in your office recognizing your Living Building Challenge Certified CorporateTreehouse status

Why I Love Lookout: Michelle Workman

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Michelle Workman knows about the price of fame. While she had built a wildly successful interior design firm in L.A. – designing spaces for the likes of Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Jennifer Lopez and more – she craved a break from big city life. Fortunately her husband, Justin agreed that a slower pace would be best for their family, particularly their sons, ages 6 and 9. So after an exhaustive search across the country, the family settled on Chattanooga as their new home – more specifically Lookout Mountain.

“I remember feeling like our first realtor tried to talk us out of Lookout Mountain, forcing us to look at houses on Signal and Riverview,” she says. “I think people have this strange idea that it’s very exclusive up here, that nobody is going to be nice to you and you’ll have a hard time making friends. It couldn’t be more opposite of that.”

I think people have this strange idea that it’s very exclusive up here, that nobody is going to be nice to you and you’ll have a hard time making friends. It couldn’t be more opposite of that.

Michelle’s journey to Chattanooga began on a City Data message board, where she stumbled upon another big-city transplant, Christy Falco, who relocated from Miami to Lookout Mountain. After much back and forth online, the two met for coffee on Michelle’s first trip to the mountain. Later, Christy invited Michelle to the Fairyland Club for dinner.

“After that I couldn’t have been more sold on Lookout,” recalls Workman. “Everyone was so open and genuinely interested in getting to know me. I remember thinking it was strange that it didn’t matter that some people lived in Georgia and some in Tennessee. It felt like a single community. In most other areas there would have been dividing lines.”

Growing up in Hollywood, Lookout Mountain was undoubtedly a culture shock – but a welcome one, she says. “It feels like a town that hasn’t moved out of the 1940s – not in style or fashion – but in the sense that everybody is super friendly and loves their neighbor. There’s such a sense of community. Where I’m from, you don’t ask people for favors. But here, if something comes up and you need your child picked up from school, you can call your neighbor.”

After more than two years of researching and discussing, the Workmans officially moved in July of 2013. There have obviously been adjustments. The grocery store is no longer around the corner, and the nearest design center is in Atlanta. Michelle is learning to juggle clients on both coasts while building her business here. Justin’s job as CFO for an internet company requires monthly trips to San Francisco. But whatever hurdles the family has had to overcome, they’re more than happy to accommodate.

There’s a reason it was named Fairyland. I truly believe there is something magical on this mountain.

“I recently asked my son if he was happy where we lived and he said, ‘Mommy, this was the best decision you and daddy have ever made,’” says Michelle. “There’s a reason it was named Fairyland. I truly believe there is something magical on this mountain. I don’t know what it is, but I’m along for the ride.”

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