Lookout Mountain of the Southeast

Like the Allegheny Front in western Pennsylvania, Lookout Mountain, which stretches from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Gadsden, Alabama, represents the eastern edge of the Appalachian (or Cumberland) Plateau.  Standing atop this massive ridge, one can appreciate the puzzle-like topography of the Plateau to the west, dissected into a maze of ridges and valleys by a dendritic network of streams; to the east, the lower Ridge & Valley Province angles northeast to southwest, composed of parallel ridges and relatively broad valleys.  East of the Ridge and Valley swath are the higher summits of the Blue Ridge, reportedly visible from Lookout Mountain on clear days.

At the north end of Lookout Mountain, Point Park, a National Military Park, commemorates the important role that this natural overlook played during the Civil War and protects some structures from that era.  From its lofty perch, some 1300 feet above the Tennessee River, one enjoys a broad panorama of Greater Chattanooga and of the River's tortuous course, flowing down through the Ridge and Valley Province, looping past Chattanooga and then entering the Cumberland Plateau above Nickajack Lake. Meanwhile, turkey and black vultures soar along the limestone cliffs, as if to proclaim that such a striking view is not so unique for them.

The highest point on Lookout Mountain, just under 2400 feet, lies in Georgia and a number of rugged canyons incise the walls of this massive ridge.  Of special interest to most human tourists are Ruby Falls and Rock City, heavily advertised on barns and billboards throughout the eastern U.S.  More on those commercial sites in a future post.