Life on Lookout Mountain

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Story and photos by JOHN DERSHAM

As this issue of Lookout Alabama hits the bookstores and mailboxes, autumn is waning. Halloween and Thanksgiving are recent memories.

The beautiful fall splendor with its bright foliage and sparkling cool sunny days is over once again. The leaves are gone now, the skies are overcast more often and the bare limbs of trees are dark gray to black, etching their way ever upward like fingers reaching into the dark, moody, endless sky above.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]

To read the rest of this article, pick up a copy of the Winter 2015 issue OR Subscribe Now for instant access to our online edition, which offers more photos (including those not published in the print edition).

[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()]Christmas trees are brightly lit in the windows of our homes. Our minds seem more and more to reflect on the past this time of year. I guess it is the excitement that each Christmas brings – the family getting together, recalling all those Christmases past, and laughing, crying and doing all the fun stuff that connects us to our childhoods at home.

Here on Lookout Mountain we enjoy four distinct seasons, and each season is beautiful and unique. For us Lookout Mountaineers, we are faced with snow and ice more often or at least with more of it than those in the valley below.

Like many others who live on the mountain, I work in the valley. If we are not careful, the occasional snow and ice event can make getting home interesting. The gap roads leading up the mountain can close suddenly as the snow and ice often forms sooner on the mountain than in the valley. If we wait a few minutes too long to head up the mountain, the travel challenge begins.

That has happened to me a couple times. Once I made it three quarters of the way up the mountain only to find a very distinct line where the wet roads ended and the frozen ones began. I had to park my car on the side and walk home.

Aside from the rare weather inconvenience, we enjoy living on the mountain immensely. Lookout Mountain ranges from 1,200 feet above sea level at its lowest point to well more than 2,000 feet in many locations.

Lookout Mountain is actually a plateau that is relatively flat on top with rolling hills and ridges. In places it is up to nine miles wide and mostly forested, but it also boasts a great deal of lovely farmland for cattle, chickens and a wide variety of produce including corn, soy beans, tomatoes and apples. Many people have small- to medium-size vegetable gardens that will grow produce such as melons, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, pumpkins, okra, turnip greens, collards, potatoes, cabbage, herbs and spices.

Lookout Mountain is a wonderful place to live, work and to visit. In addition to the changing seasons and the diverse flora and fauna, we are blessed with scenic, natural and historical wonders like Little River Canyon National Preserve, the Little River Wildlife Management Area, DeSoto State Park, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Ruby Falls and Rock City, Point Park, Chickamauga Battlefield and the Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway.

From Point Park on the northern tip of the mountain near Chattanooga to Noccalula Falls at the southern terminus in Gadsden, Ala., the mountain is a multi-state adventure too good to miss. You can hang glide at Lookout Mountain Flight Park near Trenton, Ga., ski at Cloudmont Ski Resort in Mentone, Ala., shop and eat in quaint mountain villages, rent a cabin, camp or stay in one of several charming bed-and-breakfast establishments.

You can ride bikes, hike, rappel, kayak or canoe, or you can drive the scenic parkway and view artisans’ work or shop in boutiques, galleries and secondhand stores.

And don’t forget the many camps for your kids to enjoy a week or two in the mountains during the summer or during seasonal and themed retreats. The camps here draw children from across the country and around the world.

The Lookout Mountain region is special, and anyone who comes here usually falls in love with it. Many people will return over and over, and they – like me – often choose to make it home.

John Dersham is president/CEO of DeKalb Tourism.[/s2If]