When anyone asks me where to go hiking in Chattanooga, my go-to response is usually, "Have you been to Edwards Point?" One of the best options for an inaugural outdoor adventure for anyone visiting, moving, or looking to get into the outdoors in the Scenic City, the hike to Edwards Point provides multiple viewpoints of the Tennessee River Gorge, the Middle Creek Gorge, and the Chattanooga Valley while taking you through rock gardens, over bridge crossings, and down lush hiking trails marked with white blazes. Overall, if you start your trip from Signal Point, the hike to Edwards Point is 2.9-miles along the Cumberland Trail, totaling 5.8 miles as an out-and-back trip.
The trail itself is moderately difficult with a few technical rock sections and some steep climbs in and out of Middle Creek Gorge. When planning for this hike, we recommend allocating about 3.5 hours for the total trek. For average hikers, you can travel about three miles per hour, but we suggest rationing at least 30 minutes to an hour, just to enjoy the breathtaking views from the Edwards Point area. Like most trails in Chattanooga, it's perfect for all seasons, each season providing it's own value and uniqueness.
For the best hiking experience, park your car and start at Signal Point, where you'll be greeted with your first panoramic view of the Tennessee River, with Williams Island and Chattanooga in the distance.
From here, travel down a steep wooden staircase, dubbed “the mousetrap,” which descends around 200 feet. Less than a half mile down the trail, as the Middle Creek Gorge opens in front of you, you'll be step out onto the magnificently exposed Julia Falls Overlook. The Tennessee River Gorge beckons even more grandly here, with the buttresses of Edwards Point and 95 foot Julia Falls visible on the far side of the gorge.
From the overlook, the trail begins to get a bit technical and rocky, requiring you to pay attention to your footing. The trail is surrounded by lush hardwood forest, a variety of shrubs, and many blooming plants. The beauty is distracting, so take your time.
In a half mile you may be able to hear and perhaps glimpse Rainbow Falls far below, but do NOT attempt to access it. There is no safe trail down to the falls, so continue and turn left below the large boulder. You should be able to hear Middle Creek and soon after you'll see the 100 foot wooden suspension bridge. Once across, follow the trail upstream, then take the left switchback.
The trail continues to be rocky as you pass cliff walls to your right and Lockhart’s Arch to the left. Once you are back on the top of the bluff, the footing becomes easier as you cross creeks and catch glimpses of the river gorge on your left, leading you to Edwards Point.
Before long, you will reach Edward's Point, where you'll be met with truly breathtaking views of the river below. Drink some water, have a snack, and then make your way back the same way you came to Signal Point. If you time it just right, you could be at the Point at sunset.
A Few Good Things to Note:
- To reach Signal Point, take a left off Signal Mountain Boulevard just as it reaches the top of the mountain, then follow the signs.
- This area is part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and the National Park Service area has restrooms, but is open only during daylight hours. Don't let your car be locked inside the gate.
- For more information see the Cumberland Trail website. Stay on the marked path and keep a close eye on children near the many steep slopes and cliffs.
- Planning to do this hike? Share your adventures with us by tagging #RootsRated.
- And always, when you're out and about in nature, please Leave No Trace.
Written by: Jake Wheeler