Caution and Common Sense
Common sense and a little care will make hiking on Lookout a safe and pleasant experience. Be watchful of children, particularly in the areas of high bluffs. Poison ivy covers many areas in the spring and summer and is to be avoided. Gnats and ticks can be troublesome in the warm months--be sure to check yourself for ticks after a hike. Two species of poisonous snakes inhabit the mountain: copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. Should you come upon one of these shy creatures, remember that you are the intruder, not the snake. All animals living in the park are protected under federal law.
Stay on the marked trails and don't shortcut, which causes unsightly erosion. Do not drink from any spring or stream; all should be considered contaminated. Sturdy shoes or boots are recommended. Pack out whatever refuse you bring in, and when you see litter on the trail, pick it up. If you see others littering, report them to a Ranger. In recent years, increased enforcement has resulted in several successful prosecutions.
Mountain bikes are permitted on the Guild Trail, the Hardy Trail and the Upper and Lower Truck Trails. Bicycles are not permitted on the single-track hiking trails. Whether or not you are caught and ticketed, your tire tracks will not go unnoticed. If you ride in the park, be sure to maintain a safe speed, keep off the hiking trails, and stay alert for hikers, plants, and animals in your path. As enjoyable as it may be to ride in the park, be aware that there are world-renowned mountain bike trails just a short distance away at Raccoon Mountain.
Camping, fires, hunting, or horseback riding are not permitted in the park. Searching for relics, including the possession of metal detectors, is strictly prohibited by federal law, and penalties under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act are severe.
The limestone caves on Lookout Mountain, while obscure and usually far from the trail, are typically vertical in nature and quite dangerous for the untrained explorer. Permits and proper equipment are required to enter any cave on Park Service property. The Chattanooga Grotto of the National Speleological Society, a local club, will gladly provide training and assistance.