Chattanooga is in my blood, y’all. I wasn’t born here, and I didn’t grow up here, but Chattanooga is the place I chose. It’s the place I chose to put down roots and the place I chose to raise my kids. Chattanooga is crammed full of neat places and beautiful sights, and we at CM are starting a new series to spotlight some outlying areas.
Today’s installment…Signal Mountain!
Signal Mountain’s name is as literal as they come — during the Civil War, the area of Signal Point was used as a signaling location (similar to the aptly name Lookout Mountain). Signal Mountain still affords some of the most breathtaking views of Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley.
Signal Mountain has some of the very best trails in the area; some well-known and others fairly quiet. Green Gorge is a personal favorite (because it’s easy and close to my house); the scenery within the gorge does not provide any mountain views, but it follows a beautiful creek, and allows for a one or two mile loop option. Rainbow Lake is popular mountain view hike, although it is a bit more difficult depending on where you start the hike. Edwards Point allows a customizable hike, and it is easily one of the most recommended. The hike to Mushroom Rock combines several fun things (a trail head at a parking lot, a swinging bridge, and a cool rock formation), but the trail twists and turns can be harder to find. The Mabbit Spring Trail follows some winding streams for a two+ mile hike of moderate difficulty. If any of those sound interesting to you, check them out on this great site for more information.
The small town feel is not lost on Signal. There are several small, locally owned shops in the area, and these places are my first go-to spots for any Christmas or birthday gift inspiration. Check out Accents, Threads, or The Freckled Peddler for boutique-type shopping and gifts. Mountaintop Toys is a great place for gift ideas for kids of all ages (I would be lying if I told you I had never bought a gift for an adult in my life at this awesome toy store). And if you’re a thrift store junkie like I am, there are two great ones on the mountain as well: the Clothes House and Bachman Bargains.
For such a small community, there is a variety of food options to choose from (it is still the South after all). The local McDonald’s has a clean, quiet, large play place (come on, moms — you know this is important so don’t roll your eyes). There is also a Domino’s and a Subway for a fast option. For a sit down meal, you can choose from one of two Mexican restaurants (El Metate is my favorite), a Chinese restaurant with a lunch buffet, Guthrie’s Chicken, 517 Subs, and The Pizza Place, and Off the Grill 2. For something more specialized and upscale, the Hummingbird Pastaria provides a classier, sit down meal. Mayfly Coffee is a great morning pick me up with free trade coffee. The Signal Mountain Cookie Lady makes the cutest little themed cookies you have ever seen (seriously, I haven’t stumped her yet, and I asked for mason jar cookies last year that turned out perfectly). And then there’s the Bread Basket which exists in other outskirts of Chattanooga (Hixson and East Brainerd), but the OG is on Signal and it is glorious. Local tip: if you get there when they open, there is always a section of half price items from the day before (I usually buy all the things).
For the kiddos
Since I’ve already sung the praises of the local McDonald’s (sorry not sorry), I’ll move on to other things. One of the most familiar and prized places on Signal Mountain is the beloved Pumpkin Patch, a sprawling wooden playground nestled in the woods and coolness of the mountain.
Aside from the Pumpkin Patch, Signal Mountain has a host of other small parks throughout the community with playgrounds to fit even a very young child. They are well maintained and quaint places to enjoy some family time.
McCoy Farm is a great little excursion and neat piece of history on the mountain. It is a park with an easy walking trail that circles the outskirts of the property. In the center of the property is the main house and house grounds. McCoy Farm is great for a short day hike, and they also host larger scale events on a regular basis.
Little Brown Church is another hidden gem. Nestled in the heart of Walden (a community on the backside of the mountain), it is exactly what it says: a little brown church. Every summer, the community holds church there on Sunday mornings with speakers from various organizations. It is available for weddings, and it is also a great place for family photos.
I know I can’t keep calling everything a hidden gem, but the Mountain Opry is one. Every Friday night at the Walden’s Ridge Civic Center, local bluegrass groups perform 30-minute sets starting at 8pm. It is simple, homey, and breathtaking to know these types of homespun concerts still happen here every week.
In the summertime, the Signal Mountain Playhouse provides the community with a musical production full of talented locals. It’s an open air, outdoor amphitheater that transforms into something magical every July with the help of local volunteers.
Writing this was fun because I got to look at my little part of the world with a fresh set of eyes. Being a tourist on your own turf can be a fun way to spend a weekend (I know because I just did it for this post). So take the short trip up the mountain, and come see what I get to see out my window every day.
More of our Outskirts of Town Series: