The Glen Falls Trail is one of the shorter trails in the Chattanooga area but it rewards you with beautiful mountain scenery, a waterfall and, one of our favorites, large boulders to wander through!
The Glen Falls trailhead is on the left of Ochs Hwy as you head up Lookout Mountain from St. Elmo Ave. Maybe about a mile up Ochs Hwy.
It is a small parking area with space for maybe 6 vehicles, depending on how efficiently the visitors park. So be prepared for an alternative option if the small parking area is full.
The falls are about a half mile in from the trailhead but the trail actually continues beyond the falls for a total of about a mile. So it is approximately a 2 mile hike for the full trail, out and back.
From the Ochs Hwy parking area, you will start a gradual descent on a very good, comfortable trail. Not too far in, you might notice an intersecting trail from the left but just continue to follow the main trail.
There is plenty of mountain scenery to enjoy along the way to the falls! A little further down the trail, you will cross a very small stream. It was just a trickle when we crossed and no problem at all.
Continue on the trail and you will soon notice the trail beginning to weave through large rocks on a gradual ascent.
You will eventually hear the falls as you start the approach, assuming there has been enough recent rain.
As stated earlier...we love hiking through large rocks!
Glen Falls is not a great stream of water flowing over a bluff but, instead, a smaller stream of water (very dependent on rainfall), cascading over great rocky areas, with some considerable drops as it finds its way down Lookout Mtn.
When you arrive at the falls, you'll see a small wooden bridge, which crosses over the creek. To the left of the bridge, the falls continue gently down the mountain.
To the right of bridge, the falls form a small pool. When we visited, the pool had water in it, however we've seen photos were the pool has been completely dry!
Continue across the small wooden bridge and almost immediately on your right you will see stone steps leading up off the trail.
The steps lead to a short “rock tunnel” that takes you to the upper falls area where you can explore and take advantage of great photo opportunities!
Like pics of the falls dropping to the pool below!
Or, like we did, have lunch-with-a-view from the large slabs of rock further upstream! Beautiful!
Or check out the far upper area that feeds the stream leading to the falls!
After exploring the upper area, we went back to the trail and continued our hike to where the trail ends back at Ochs Hwy, just north of the trailhead where you started.
There isn't a parking area at the end of the trail so it will be an out-and-back if you choose to hike the full trail. We enjoyed the short trail segment beyond the falls and found the hike back to the parking area a pleasant "rerun" of a scenic, easy trail!
Put Glen Falls Trail on your hiking agenda as a must-do for the Chattanooga area!
******** Note ********
For those looking for a longer hike to Glen Falls, you might consider taking the St. Elmo Trail coming up from St. Elmo. We chose this route recently on another Glen Falls visit and it results in about a 3.5 mile round trip (which includes our wandering around).
The trailhead is on Guild Trail street, just a block or so up from the intersection with Alabama Ave.
There are some pull-off parking spots along the street but nothing officially designated and nothing really indicating the trailhead. The start of the trail can be found by finding the small, white bridge crossing over the ditch
Early on you will see a sign(s) indicating “St. Elmo Trail”.
The trail begins with a very cool, rocky area showing evidence multiple approaches to the actual trail so you must pay attention.
As we were trying to figure out if we should go to the right or go straight up the rocks, we met another couple who gladly showed us the way!
This was an interesting, alternate hike up to the Glen Falls Trail with mountain scenery...
The point where St. Elmo Trail intersects with Glen Falls Trail does not have any signs. Hiking to the falls does not present a challenge since you stay to the left.
But on the return, pay attention because you might miss the St. Elmo Trail turn...especially if you are involved in a big conversation! Just keep an eye out for that flat rock!
In summary, since there are no blazes and only the occasional small “St. Elmo Trail” sign along the way (mostly the lower section), it is easy to maybe find yourself off-trail now and then.
We used the AllTrails app to help us stay on track. This trail is basically a 1.2 mile connector to the Glen Falls Trail. It appears to be a work in progress and I’m sure it will continue to improve.
More Chattanooga area hikes:
Leggett Point Overlook - a short, easy hike with a gorgeous overlook!
Big Soddy Creek Gulf - easy, flat hike that follows along big Soddy Creek! Lots of swimming options!