Following my visit to Rock City, I made my way back down to the base of the mountain and the beginning of the Incline Railway.
The Incline Railway is a mile-long railroad line that runs straight up the side of Lookout Mountain, from St Elmo at the bottom to Point Park and other historical areas of interest at the top. It was originally built in the late 1800s as a faster way for visitors to get to the top of the mountain, particularly those interested in seeing sites from the Civil War.
Although it is primarily utilized by tourists, the Railway is also used by residents of the Mountain, particularly during the winter months if the roads are icy and too dangerous to drive down. With inclines of up to 72%, the Railway offers some beautiful and staggering views of the city of Chattanooga and is widely referred to as "America's Most Beautiful Mile".
You can board the Railway at both the top at the bottom, but I think most people - myself included - prefer to begin at the bottom, ride up to the top and wander around, and then ride back down. For one, there is more parking at the St Elmo station, with a large lot available including spaces for RVs and other larger vehicles. Secondly, it just really makes more sense.
When I visited, on a Sunday afternoon in late July, I had about a 20-minute wait for a car to take me up. The ride up was awesome, because the city is revealed slowly until you finally get to the steepest part of the incline and suddenly it is laid out below you. Even for people who aren't quite as obsessed with Chattanooga as I am, I can imagine it's quite breathtaking.
Once at the top, I walked the 3 blocks over to Point Park, paid the admission [$3, I think], and wandered in. Point Park was an important site during the Civil War, and today there are a few monuments and replica weapons to be seen. But most importantly to me, the park offers a little rocky overlook where you can sit and see the entire city below. I think most people thought I was crazy, but I climbed out a bit and just sat for about 30 minutes, reading my book and enjoying the views.
There are a few other trails you can see, as well as a small museum, but I opted to just return to the rail stop and take a view pictures from the top overlook before getting back in line for the ride down to the bottom. And let me tell you, the view from that overlook was pretty stunning. Being inside the car is awesome, but standing at the top and looking out was even more fantastic.
|[one of the many views from point park]|
|[well hello there, favourite city. very nice to see you again]|
|[chattanooga with the river winding through it]|
|[civil war memorial of the "battle above the clouds"]|
|[and a hidden statue at the bottom of the mountain]|
|[looking down from the top overlook: the world's greatest slip-n-slide]|
|[view of the city from the topmost overlook]|
|[another look at the railway from one of the overlooks]|
|[looking up from the st elmo station. love the "see rock city" sign that's peeking in from the side]|
- the bottom station, where I would recommend parking and beginning your journey, is located at 3917 St Elmo Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37409
- admission is $15 round trip for adults and $7 round trip for children, but again, I would recommend looking into the Triple Play package that gets you into all 3 Lookout Mountain attractions
- at the top station there is a gift shop and small cafe where you can purchase refreshments; at the bottom station there were vending machines and an ice cream stall
- when you get to the top of the Mountain, walk the few blocks to visit Point Park. the views of the city are worth the admission fee
- the incline gets pretty steep toward the top. it's totally safe, but if you have problems with heights, be warned
Incline Railway: just one more reason to love Chattanooga.