Point Park boasts the most famous overlook of Chattanooga - and it looks even better when you've earned it by coming up from the Cravens House.
What Makes It Great
Park at the Craven's House and access the trail to the right from the back of the lot. At the intersection, almost within sight of Cravens, bear left up the Cravens Trail, which climbs for nearly a mile at a modest incline with no steep sections. When you reach the Bluff Trail, turn left and enjoy a fast run for another half mile. You'll see the metal stairs leading to Point Park on your right. The Point is a beautiful and educational destination that includes a museum and gift shop. From the lower museum, the views of the Tennessee River valley are spectacular.
Now for the descent! At the bottom of the big steel staircase, turn right to take the Mountain Beautiful Trail. Be sure to have a look at the Civil War memorial plaque in the rock above, which is across from the site of the old Point Hotel. The Mountain Beautiful Trail runs level at the base of the bluffs, drops to pass under the Incline Railroad, then climbs back up to the bluff line. It's an intimate and at times technical route. A mile and half from the Point you'll drop onto the old railroad bed, known here as the Hardy Trail, and have a quick romp down the double track back to Cravens House.
For a shorter 2.5 mile loop, you can reverse the route and skip the Hardy Trail entirely by proceeding left from the back from the upper Cravens parking lot. This trail includes impressive stonework and the roadbed of the original Incline Number 1, constructed in the 1880s to reach the Point Hotel. You''ll intersect the Mountain Beautiful Trail, climb to reach Point Park in less than a mile, and then then enjoy a speedy descent via the Bluff Trail that ends with a fast run down the Cravens Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners looking for a quick loop with enough climbing and challenge to keep the heart rate up, while still providing plenty of fast, smooth descents. This is a good route as well for hikers who aren't afraid of elevation gain.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
If you park in the upper lot at Cravens House, return before dark or you risk getting locked in (when in doubt, use the lower parking lot, which has no gate). Park Rangers will be unhappy if you're found at Point Park after dark, as well.
Watch for poison ivy on the Mountain Beautiful Trail.