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Trail Descriptions and Ratings

To some extent, physical condition, weather, and state of mind will determine the difficulty of a trail on any given day. The difficulty ratings in this guide, while purely subjective, are based generally on length and change in elevation. These ratings assume a person in average physical condition who is at least occasionally active outdoors.

Bluff Trail

South from Point Park

Distance: 1 mile
Hiking Time: 25 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Attractions: Historic sites, impressive bluffs, rock climbers.

The Bluff Trail is a popular and easy hike. It begins as a wide, flat trail leading south from the ruins of the Point Hotel below Point Park. Near the end of the 19th century, the portion of trail near Point Park was the roadbed for a narrow gauge railroad which connected the Point Hotel to Sunset Rock, and eventually to the Natural Bridge on top of the mountain.




Point Hotel

A small sign commemorates the Point Hotel near the bottom of the steel stairs from Point Park, a quarter mile from the park entrance gate. The path following the bluffs to the right is the Mountain Beautiful Trail. To the left is the Bluff Trail leading towards Sunset Rock.

The Point Hotel, opened in 1888, was 100 by 130 feet in size and featured balconies on three levels overlooking Chattanooga. The hotel boasted of "the grandest view on the American continent," advising visitors not to bother with the view from the rock above, which coincidentally was owned by the hotel's bitter competitors.

In the basement of the hotel was a pool room, a barber shop, and bath houses. On the first floor was the lobby, a dining room, and the tracks of the narrow gauge railway. On the floors above were 58 rooms, each with hot and cold water drawn from Rock Spring with the help of a windmill. Finally bought out by the competition, the hotel was abandoned around the turn of the century and torn down in 1910.


Railroad Bed

The trail descends slightly to reach the level of the narrow gauge railroad, which began at the Point Hotel. A good view of what remains of the foundation of the Point Hotel can be had by backtracking a short distance on the old railroad bed.


Stone Steps

Steps on the left surrounded by English ivy lead to Rock Spring, which is believed to have been the source of water for the Point Hotel. A trickle of water literally comes out of the rock at the rear of a sandstone overhang and flows into a small basin. The pipe which apparently led to the hotel can still be seen. Notice the tiny seams of coal in the rock under the overhang.