The hike from Signal Point packs dramatic views into just a half mile of trail, while providing plenty of options for longer and more challenging ventures.
What Makes It Great
The historic view from Signal Point, with Williams Island on the Tennessee River below, makes a fitting beginning for this classic Chattanooga hike. After admiring the view, descend the elaborate wooden staircase known as “the mousetrap," which drops 200 vertical feet before leveling out. Less than a half mile from Signal Point, the mountain peels away into Middle Creek Gorge, leaving one of the most iconic views in Chattanooga spread in front of you.
Julia Falls Overlook is a panoramic, unobstructed look into the wide open space of the Tennessee River Gorge. From here, you can pick out the bluffs of Edwards Point on the opposite flank, and given any recent rainfall you'll see the nearly 100 ft high Julia Falls to the right. Should you wish to hike on, be aware that the trail becomes more rocky and technical past the overlook. Just shy of a mile into the hike you may see and her Rainbow Falls far below on the left. Stay the course; there is no proper trail down to the falls.
When you reach the suspension bridge, you can forgo crossing it and continue on the trail that runs past Rainbow Lakes to a wide gravel trail that leads up to the Rainbow Lake parking lot on Ohio Street. Turn right from the lot and you can walk on the road less than a half mile back to your car at Signal Point--traffic is light and this route is much easier than retracing your steps through the rocks and up the mousetrap.
Who is Going to Love It
Any hiker who is comfortable going up and down the wooden stairs of the "mousetrap" will feel well rewarded by the iconic view at the Julia Falls Overlook.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
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 National Park Service area has restrooms, but is open only during daylight hours during the warm seasons. Don't let your car be locked inside the gate.