Sunset Rock Trailhead
Sunset Rock provides spectacular access to the Bluff and Gum Spring Trails. Parking is allowed only in the tiny lot provided on West Brow Drive (to reach this point, bear right at the fountain on top of the mountain, then drive about a half mile to the parking lot on the left). Due to the area's popularity, parking can be difficult, particularly on weekends. If possible, hikers should park at the Cravens House. Regardless of how you find your way to "the Rock," keep children close at hand and use extreme caution near the unprotected edges of the cliff, which drop nearly 100 feet. There have been fatalities here due to carelessness.
Confederate Generals Bragg and Longstreet are said to have used Sunset Rock to watch the movement of Union troops on October 28, 1863, prior to launching the Battle of Wauhatchie. That night, Longstreet was reportedly visible to the Union commanders in the valley below as he stood directing the battle. Unknown to Longstreet, the Union army had broken the Confederate code and was thus able to anticipate their enemy's every movement. Some 25 years later, the old narrow gauge railroad from the Point Hotel passed just a few feet from the parking area on West Brow Road (Even today, near a stone bench, one can still see some of the original terrace from the railroad in what is now a landscaped yard). From 1886-1899 photographer George T. Linn operated a studio perched on the very edge of the cliff; large iron bolts still remain from this structure.
It is a moderately steep descent of 0.1 miles from the parking area to the top of Sunset Rock, and a steep descent of 0.12 miles further to the Bluff Trail below. In good weather, you are likely to encounter rock climbers in this area. It is not unusual to find climbers who have traveled many miles to cling to the sandstone of Lookout Mountain. White chalk used to increase the grip of sweaty palms leaves unsightly but temporary handprints on popular routes up the cliff. When passing beneath climbers, be wary of falling rocks and careful not to step on any ropes which may cross the trail.
From the top of Sunset Rock, the trail leads to the left 0.12 miles to the Bluff Trail. You can turn left the Bluff Trail south towards Convenant College or turn right and proceed about a mile on the Bluff Trail to Point Park.
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