I just moved to Alabama. From NY. Which means 17+ hours in a car, stopping only for the most urgent bathroom breaks and fast-food burgers. So it only makes sense that after one week here I jumped back in the car to drive 7 hours there and back to Chattanooga for a hike… right? Wrong. LOL @ the things I do for adventure sometimes (spoiler alert, I would not recommend it, at least not in one days time).
The end result was definitely well worth the travel, though, as exhausted as I did return home at night. The entire drive was playing with my head as I drove east into Atlanta (putting me in EST), and then north into Tennessee (back to CST) and then up through the mountains into Georgia again (you guessed it, eastern time zone). The road to the top of the mountain is not for the faint of heart, reminding me a little bit of the Pacific Coast Highway with its twists and turns narrowly missing the edge of some pretty treacherous cliffs. I would also like to take this moment to give a shoutout to whoever lives in one of the few mansions at the top of the mountain.. go you. Seriously, I don’t know what you did or do to afford those babies but wow.
But back to the main attraction. Upon arrival I was in awe of just how much there was to do in Rock City. I had looked up what to expect before I left, but had really only seen pictures of this gorgeous waterfall in my search (pictured below):
What I did not expect was for Rock City to be a mini amusement park of sorts, with trails, cafes, gift shops, live music and more!! We even were treated to a free wine tasting when we got out from the creepy, Disneyland-gone-wrong caverns (the park calls them Fairlyland Caverns but I’m not buying it) that marked the end of the trail. Don’t ask me what this was or why it was a part of the park, all I know is I tried to get out of here as quickly as possible.. never before has an alcoholic drink been so welcomed.
Lovers Leap is the main attraction at Rock City, and to get there is fairly simple- all you have to do is follow the red trail, as outlined in the park map you should receive at the entrance. Along the way you’ll find gnomes scattered about marking your trail (I think as an indication of what’s to come in the horrifying Fairyland Caverns, but agagin I’m unsure), and have the opportunity to test your claustrophobia/figure out if you need to drop a few pounds by squeezing through several tight rock crevices. Things they probably should tell you when you’re buying your tickets?
If you’ve made it past the deathly tight crevices, you’ll find yourself at a fork in the road. One direction leads you to the simply labeled “rock bridge,” spanning across 200 feet of width between two sides of the mountain, looking hundreds of feet straight down. We set across this bridge first, before seeing it’s counterpart, which the park affectionately calls the “swing along bridge.” Not one to ever turn down an adventure, of course I had to try it!! All I can say is a bridge like this would never be allowed in New York, at least not without some well-enforced safety precautions. Halfway across, some child got on the bridge behind us and decided it was a really great idea to start jumping up and down and shaking the bridge from side to side. Well, I can tell ya, they don’t call it the swing along bridge for nothing.
With my GoPro in one hand, phone in the other, and no third hand to hang onto the rope railing, I saw my life flash before my eyes several times. Meanwhile I have some super quality (jokes) video footage of Johnny’s mom blood curdling screaming for him to stop behind us. Welcome to the south, people.
When we finally got past what I thought for sure was the end of my 22 years of life, we were met with arguably one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life. No, it doesn’t compare with the Monte Carlo Bay or the PCH, but it comes pretty darn close!
Apparently on a clear day it’s even possible to see seven states from the top of the overlook, which we were fortunate enough to have! Don’t ask me to point out which state is which, though, I’m still finding it hard to believe you can see Virginia from Georgia!
Climb through a couple more tunnels and you’ll make your way to Lover’s Leap.
Legend has it that this name comes from a very Romeo & Juliet story of two young Cherokee lovers who grew up in opposing tribes. When the one lover was captured and thrown from this spot on the top of the mountain, the other was so upset and heartbroken that she threw herself down to her own death. Seems a little extreme to me, but apparently people were much more passionate in past. Today, Lover’s Leap looks a little bit like this:
We finished our day and our hike by driving 10 minutes into downtown Chattanooga (back in Tennessee) for lunch at a quaint little restaurant called Tupelo Honey. Although unsure of the location at first, the deserted streets open up to a beautiful area of downtown known as Warehouse Row.
Inside was Tupelo Honey Cafe and several different shops. Honestly, every time I visit Tennessee I love it just a little bit more! I had the Wicked Chicken Cobb Salad and Carly got the Wicked Chicken Sandwich, and both come highly recommended by us. And don’t even bother making the mistake of asking for the Wicked Sauce on the side, just go for it. Too. Good. Pair it with some sweet tea and biscuits and honey for an appetizer and you’re really rolling in true southern fashion now.
For more on Rock City & things to do in Chattanooga, visit the website at: http://www.seerockcity.com/. Happy hiking! 🙂