Boulder Barrels Down Side Of Lookout Mountain; Tree By Scenic Highway Stops Fall

Mountain Beautiful Trail Closed; Park Concerned About Stability Of Bluff

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A boulder that barreled down the side of Lookout Mountain sometime on New Year's Eve was stopped just short of dropping onto Scenic Highway by a lone tree.

The big rock that was dislodged from a section of bluff wound up on the Hardy Trail just above the busy highway.

It left a pathway of destruction, including several large downed trees.

The boulder, which may have split into several pieces during its descent, also left a mess of the National Park Service's Mountain Beautiful trail that goes from the Hardy Trail to just below Point Park.


And it left Park Supt. Cathy Cook with concerns about the stability of the bluff above the trail. She said there is a possibility that another section of the bluff could fall since this large piece undermining the bluff had broken away.

She said a house is above the endangered bluff, and she is trying to determine whether the bluff belongs to the owner of the house or to the Park Service.

Supt. Cook said if it is found that it belongs to the Park Service, then she plans to bring in a geo-technical specialist to examine the stability of the affected bluff.

She said the Park Service may eventually have to reroute the Mountain Beautiful Trail away from that section of the bluff.

Supt. Cook said she had not yet visited the site, but three of her staff members inspected the boulder and its carnage on Wednesday.

Jennifer Flynn of TDOT said, "Our local maintenance supervisor is aware of this, and he went out to look at it on New Year’s Day. Right now the rock is not on our right-of-way (or in the roadway), but our maintenance crews will continue to monitor the area for changes and will address the situation should it affect our roadway." 

The boulder is lying in the middle of the Hardy Trail, which is owned and managed by the Lookout Mountain Conservancy. It is near the end of the trail, where it connects with the Scenic Highway. 

The Mountain Beautiful Trail is one of the trails created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.


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