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Tennesse Hike: Sunset Rock at Lookout Mountain

View from Sunset Rock

Location: Sunset Rock via Craven’s House Trail

Length: 3 miles

Route: Out and Back

Difficulty: Moderate

Hours: Sunrise to sunset

History: In 1854 Robert Cravens purchased 1,000 acres of land on lookout mountain. For the first 2 years, it served as an orchard and housed summer cabins. After 2 years, the Craven’s made this land their permanent residence. They were the first family to live here permanently. The Confederate troops secured Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the valley between after the battle of Chickamauga on September 19-20, 1863. This allowed them to hold the Federals in Chattanooga. Confederate troops had defenses that surrounded Cravens house and the house became a target. The house was hit 6 times, yet the family remained in their house until they finally decided to relocate about a month later, in mid-November. On November 24, 1863, the union army, led by General Joseph Hooker, attacked and eventually the Confederates surrendered. Cravens house became Union General W. C. Whitaker’s headquarters. After the war, the Cravens family returned only to find only the stone basement and dairy house still standing. They rebuilt their home and Robert Cravens lived there until his death in 1886.

Click here for history.

Oakley showing off Cravens House
Fairytale looking building at Cravens house
Mystery hole in the rocks at Cravens house

Parking: There is a small, free parking lot at Cravens house. This lot closes at dusk and if you end up being out after sunset, your car will be locked in. There is also a small, free and ungated overflow parking lot on the road below Cravens house and is a short walk to the trailhead. There is also paid parking at Point Park and you can get to sunset rock from that trailhead (*the hike will be different mileage from that location).

About: Cancelled plans called for a spontaneous road trip to Chattanooga. It was the perfect day to explore one of the many stunning hiking trails Chattanooga has to offer. We started off our morning by grabbing a pastry from our local favorite bakery, the Bakehouse, in downtown Franklin. In the car, we picked our hike and decided on Lookout Mountain. We brought Oakley, my bernedoodle puppy, along for her first big adventure! We parked at Cravens house trailhead parking. Of course we saw the historic Cravens house along with many cute, old buildings that were fun to look at...and of course take some pictures in front of!

Old building by Craven's house

We started this hike with the intent of hiking the bluff trail, but in the name of spontaneity, which was our theme of the day, we ended up doing the sunset rock trail. We started by following Cravens trail, then veered to the left to merge onto the bluff trail where we stayed until we saw the sign on the left leading up to sunset rock. The markings were not great for the bluff trail, but there was a sign right in front of the turn for sunset rock. The path up to sunset rock is steep and rocky, but the views are so worth it. I would love to come back and plan it to be at the rock at sunset. There is a trailhead and parking lot for sunset rock, which is only a 0.3 mile walk to sunset rock. We accidentally walked up to that parking lot and ended up walking through some of neighborhoods and looked at the cute houses.

Top of sunset rock
This cute, muddy pup loved the adventure

The hike was pretty easy. The hardest part was the steep path to sunset rock. Throughout the hike, we saw what looked like old ruins and what we thought to be some of the defenses put up during the Civil War. Even in the winter, the scenery was beautiful. It was a gorgeous December day, and we passed other people on the trail, but it was not overly busy or crowded. Sunset rock is one of the spots people are allowed to rock climb. We walked by a couple rock climbers. This hike was beautiful and the perfect day trip from Nashville/Franklin. I definitely recommend this hike! Remember to bring water and snacks and to leave no trace!

PRO TIP: Use the restroom at Ruby Falls or make a stop somewhere before heading up to Cravens House. There is NO restroom at Cravens house. We discovered that the hard way.

We did not bring snacks and by the end of the hike we were so hungry! Chattanooga is about 15-20 min from Cravens house. We looked up some places in the car and chose Community Pie. It is a fun little pizza shop in Chattanooga. We sat in their covered patio with Oakley. The service was great and so was the food!

Community pie pizza and card games

After we ate, we went to the cutest little coffee shop, Rembrandt's Coffee House, in the art district in Chattanooga, to grab a warm hot chocolate. I have been told their coffee and pastries are amazing. There was a little alley right next to Rembrandt's that was decorated as candy cane lane. It was magical! With a warm drink in hand, we explored and walked around. We found a path that led us across the river and through adorable neighborhoods with gorgeous houses. It was fun to walk around as the sun set and to see the houses light up for Christmas!

Candy cane lane

Chattanooga has a lot to explore and I cannot wait to go back for more adventures. Lookout rock provides many gorgeous hikes and is close to Chattanooga. This makes for the perfect opportunity to hit the trials and get out in nature, while also seeing what the city of Chattanooga has to offer!

Hop on the “kara-van” and let’s take the adventurous route!

~Kara Renee’



Hey friend! Thanks for stopping by!

I'm Kara! I'm just a directionally challenged girl, who loves adventure! What most people call getting lost, I call taking the adventurous route! So jump on the "kara-van" and let's take the adventerous route!

Let's get lost together!​​



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