All you view chasers take note, this double whammy offers expansive views of Chattanooga and Moccasin Bend as you travel up the mountain on a historic railway and visit one of the most popular destinations on Lookout Mountain. For this trip fall colors are breathtaking, but honestly, every season offers Instagram-worthy views.
Park your car in Chattanooga’s historic St. Elmo neighborhood. You’re about to travel up Lookout Mountain the uniquely Chattanooga way—via the Incline Railway.
This isn’t any ordinary train ride. Your 1-mile ride takes you straight up the side of the mountain and the views are incredible, but they won’t stop here. Because the next leg of your journey takes you to Lookout Mountain’s Point Park, offering some of the most iconic views of Chattanooga. Let’s go!
Pt. 1: Ride the Incline
Your adventure starts at the Incline’s lower station in St. Elmo. If you get here early, even better! You have time to treat yourself to a sweet treat at Clumpies Ice Cream or a caffeinated pick-me-up at Goodman Coffee Roasters—both conveniently flank the lower station on either side.
Clumpies is a local ice cream shop offering seasonal flavors + classic favorites like butter pecan and double chocolate chunk.
Goodman roasts all their coffee in-house. They even sell and brew a barrel-aged coffee with beans that are aged in spent Chattanooga Whiskey barrels for four weeks before being roasted.
Now that you’re snacked and caffeinated it’s time to board. The Incline has been in operation since 1895, but the trolley-style car you’ll be riding in was installed in 2020 and includes modern amenities like heat and wheelchair accessibility.
Have your camera ready, expansive windows in front, to your side, and above offer breathtaking views during your ten-minute journey up the mountain. Near the top is the steepest point of your ride where you’ll reach a 72.7% incline—making this one of the steepest passenger rails in the world.
Once you reach the upper station, be sure to take some time soaking in the panoramic views of Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley below from the Incline’s Upper Station Observation Deck.
Pt. 2: The Battles for Chattanooga and Point Park
A six-minute stroll down East Brow Road gets you to the iconic stone entrance of Point Park, which was constructed in 1904 and modeled after the US Army Corps of Engineers Insignia.
If you want to learn more about Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain’s significance during the Civil War, stop by the Battles for Chattanooga Visitor’s Center located just before the park entrance where you can hear and see depictions of Chattanooga’s Battle Above the Clouds and Sherman’s assault on Missionary Ridge with a digital panoramic display and more. This does require a separate entrance fee.
Entrance to Point Park can be purchased in-person at the gate or online at recreation.gov, unless you visit the park on a fee-free day. This ten-acre memorial park is part of the much larger Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Point Park is a longstanding visitor favorite. Once you experience the expansive views and unique rock formations, you’ll see why! Time your visit just right, and you can join a park ranger on a walking tour along the paved path around Point Park and learn about the history of Chattanooga and the park. Or, go at your own pace, following the path to stop at memorials and informational tablets along the way.
Pt. 3: The Rest is Up to You
After your walk back to the upper station and ride down the mountain (yes, your tickets are round-trip), take some time to explore the St. Elmo neighborhood, known for its character and historic charm. Grab a burger and brew at The Tap House or dinner on 1885 Grill’s patio with some live music.