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Old 05-13-2015, 01:24 AM
17 posts, read 32,294 times
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Looking to relocate to Chattanooga in the next few years. I've read over a lot of threads in this forum which are very helpful. We will probably start our home search in a couple years but it may take a couple years to find the perfect house and we are in no real rush.

We haven't visited the area yet, but from the research I am leaning toward Signal Mountain. We want something in the mountains, and it seems like Signal and Lookout mountain keep coming up. It seems schools in Signal are a bit better, especially the public schools.

Anyway, a couple questions about living on Signal Mountain. We would like to have a view... does that mean I need a "brow lot" (never heard of this before)? We are looking to spend around $500k... can that get you a decent house with a view up there? Are there any views of the city of Chattanooga up there? As far as commute, I will be commuting to Atlanta but only once a week... so going up and down the mountain on a daily basis isn't an issue.

So you can get all your basic stuff up there without having to go "down the mountain"? Grocery? Pizza delivery? High speed internet?

What are the winters like up there? Are there any other places I may have overlooked? We have small kids so schools will be important but would consider private schools. We have lived on flat terrain all our lives and ready for a change!

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Old 05-13-2015, 09:19 AM
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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Signal Mountain is actually the name of a town on the south end of Walden's Ridge, which can also be called Signal Mountain (it was the location of a signal relay point for messages during the Civil War). It is a remnant branch of the Cumberland Plateau, separated from the rest of the plateau by the Sequatchie Valley. As such the top of the "mountain" is completely flat with extremely steep sandstone escarpments at the edges. The houses on the shoulder (slope below the escarpment) of the mountain have views, and the houses on the brow (edge) of the mountain have the best views. Once you get past the brow and move onto the plateau there is no view; it'll be even flatter than St. Louis. It's the same as living down in the valley, except you can't see the mountains above you, it's a little cooler, and arguably the air is cleaner. You might be able to find a house on a brow lot on Signal for half a million, but it will take some looking. A house on a shoulder lot would be much more reasonable for this range; look along the "W" Road and Sunset Drive.

Lookout Mountain is the name of the actual mountain and two adjacent towns (one in Georgia, one in Tennessee, kinda like Kansas City... you have KC-MO and KC-K). It has the same general geography as Signal, but it is a little taller. Most of the northern and eastern slope area (views of Chattanooga) is taken up by the Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park (civil war battlefields), but there are houses here and there. The best brow views are in Lookout Mountain, TN, but this is an "old money" area. I don't think $500k will get a brow lot there, unless you are willing to spend a few hundred thousand more on renovations on a fixer-upper.

L.O. Mt., TN and GA have excellent elementary schools on the mountain, but no middle or high school. The zoned schools for the mountain are down in the valley and generally aren't considered that good. The usual path for kids there is to to straight from elementary to a high-$$$ prep school (McCallie, GPS, or Baylor) or one of the various parochial schools instead of the zoned middle and high schools.

Signal Mt has fairly new schools (elementary, middle, and high), and they are considered to be among the best public schools in the county.

You can get "basic stuff" on either mountain, more so on Signal. There are fully functional towns up there. Restaurants, grocery stores, parks, hardware stores, nature trails, dry cleaners, gas stations, etc. And yes, even pizza delivery. That said, it is a fully functional small town, so your choices will be limited. For pizza delivery your only option is Dominoes, and I believe there is only one small locally-owned grocery store (I think). If you want more of a selection you'll have to take Hwy 127 down the mountain (2 lanes up, 1 lane down) where you'll find everything from Walmart to the best burger in Chattanooga (Merv's on Mountain Creek Road).

For Lookout, your choices will be more limited. Only a few convenience stores and one small grocery store. No pizza, etc. If you live up there you will have to make frequent trips down.

Both mountains are served by EPB Fiber, owned by the local power company, and internet speeds are lighting fast. Their basic package is 100MBps, and you can upgrade to 1GBps for not much more (if your home equipment can handle a gig; most can't). Comcast has felt the heat and is upgrading their system, promising 2Gig service sometime this year. Personally, I really really like EPB for both internet and TV.

Our weather down in the valley is somewhat similar to St. Louis; humid and hot during the summer, humid and cool during the winter. Our summer heat will last slightly longer; our winter cold spells will be slightly shorter and fewer. Up on the mountain.... I'd actually say the weather up there will be even more similar to St. Louis. They have ice/snow several more times every year than we do down in the ditch. It's usually 5-10 degrees colder up there any time of year.
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Old 05-13-2015, 11:39 AM
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Wow, thanks for all the great information. Are there any other areas around Chattanooga I may be overlooking if I want the views but also a town like feel? In other words, I don't want to be out in the boonies. I'd like to be on a mountain side with a view but also be able to get the essentials fairly easily. So far it sounds like Signal Mountain is my best bet.

So summers in Chattanooga are typically in the 90's, but may be only in the 80's if we are on Signal mountain? How much 100's? In St. Louis we usually had several days of 100's in the summers.

We are big in to parks and hiking, one of the reasons we are thinking of moving to this area. The outdoor scenery seems plentiful! If we like to go to parks, are there options on Signal Mountain?

Finally any thoughts on the drive to Atlanta? Google maps shows about 2 hours. It looks like if you time it right you can avoid traffic, for the most part (I know about the traffic problems in Atlanta). How far is it from Signal Mountain to the Chattanooga airport?

Thanks again for your response, very helpful!
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Old 05-13-2015, 02:29 PM
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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How far out are you willing to go, and how much of a view? Nothing compares directly with the view from a brow lot on Signal or Lookout. There's Missionary Ridge just east of downtown, but you have to pay attention to the neighborhood as some areas can get dicey. Ridgeside, TN is an independent incorporated town on Missionary Ridge that's in your price range, but I don't know about views from there.

There is a tall ridge in the town of Hixson north of Chickamauga Lake with lots of houses with views. I don't know the name of this ridge, but geologically it's an extension of Missionary Ridge. Look along Fairview Road.

Much farther east (between East Brainerd and Apison) you'll find White Oak Mountain. You'll be about 45-mins from downtown. Calling this a "mountain" is iffy, but from the top you'll be able to see all the way to Lookout/Signal to the west and/or the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east. This may be too far out in the "boonies", though.

There are gobs of smaller ridges and hills with a "view", but once you start getting this specific your best bet would be to contact a Real Estate agent and get recommendations. Even more important, come on down for a visit. Several agents hang out here, or I can give you the name of a friend of mine.

Back to your questions:
For what it's worth, the drive up and down Signal isn't that bad on 127. It's wide and in good condition, and there's only a 1000-1200-ft elevation change. The grade isn't that bad because it circles around the tip of the mountain then goes up a shallow valley. They do a good job of clearing the road in bad weather, but it is a mountain road. Closures do happen from time to time.

The top switchbacks on the W Road on the other hand... those you have to see to believe. I highly recommend driving that road if you come to visit, even if just for fun. They don't bother to clear this road in icy weather; they just shut the gates.

Weather: I'd say normal summer temps are upper 90's with lower 90's on the mountain. We usually have 1-4 heat waves with temps over 100 in the valley; it may never hit 100 on the mountain.

Parks and trails: gobs of them up on Signal. The Pumpkin Patch behind the Walden City Hall is a kid's park, and it's so good we sometimes drive all the way up there to play. You have the Rainbow Lake trail system, the Falling Water Falls trails, and the extensive trail system in the eastern segment of Prentice Cooper.

If you have a decent vehicle (not a sports car) you can take Big Fork Road (gravel back road) along the western rim over to the western segment of Prentice Cooper, which includes an even more extensive trail system, camping, ATV roads, etc. If you don't want to take gravel roads you can drive down 127 then back up Suck Creek Road.

When completed the Cumberland Trail State State Scenic Trail will start in Prentice Cooper and pass through Signal.

Chattanooga Hiking Club

Signal will be a solid 30-40 min drive to the airport. Depending on where you want to go in Atlanta, 2-hours is a good starting estimate. Keep in mind that Signal is on the far side of Chattanooga from Atlanta. Keep in mind that you have to get off the mountain and either drive through downtown and over Missionary Ridge (traffic bottleneck), for either ATL or CHA, so traffic snarls can add significantly to the drive.
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Old 05-13-2015, 08:09 PM
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What are the schools like for Rising Fawn in GA? That area would be a little bit closer to ATL.
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Old 05-14-2015, 12:12 AM
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Thanks again for the post, this is great info. We are planning a trip down this fall to check out the fall foliage.. planning mid-October. But want to have an idea of what to look at when we do visit.

As far as how far out we want to go, that's a good question. I think we want to be able to get to shopping (retail, mall, etc), restaurants, etc. within 20-30 minutes. Can you do that from Signal Mountain? Also we like to visit other cities and that is one thing we find appealing to Chattanooga. We can get to Nashville, Knoxville, and Atlanta all pretty easy.

We aren't very religious people. I know religion is a big deal in this area... what can we expect as far as that goes?

So this is a $75,000 4 acre plot of land, supposedly a "brow" lot. What are your thoughts on this piece of land?

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 05-14-2015, 05:31 PM
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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My first though on that lot was "What's wrong with it? why is it so cheap?" Then I realized it is a brow lot on the back side of Walden ridge, facing the Sequatchie Valley. Still quite a beautiful view, but not of the wide TN River valley. Your commute to downtown and/or shopping will be significantly longer as you'll have to drive through the entirety of the towns of Walden and Signal before dropping off the ridge. There is little more down in Dunlap (west side) than there is up on the mountain. Also, the lot appears to be directly off of Hwy 127, which is a very busy highway.

You probably won't have problems with religion up there unless you are in-your-face atheist. When someone says, "Have a blessed day!", just thank them. Soddy-Daisy and Montlake are quite conservative areas, also the towns down in the Sequatchie Valley to the west. Apison & Collegedale are 7th-Day Adventist strongholds. The town of Signal Mountain is a semi-wealthy bedroom community of an urban center, so it'll be more liberal than the surrounding area in general.
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Old 05-16-2015, 06:08 PM
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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I went up the mountain Friday night for a soccer game for the first time in a while. I thought I'd post an up date.

- Merv's (foot of the mountain) still has the best burgers in Chattanooga.
- Hwy 127 has sharper curves than I remember, and it's quite steep, but it is still wide and in good shape.
- You'll pass the Flying Saucer House on the way up. It is available as a vacation rental.
- Speed limits are quite low everywhere (main and side streets) and there are cops enforcing them. I passed two speed traps and one of those automated "your speed is" signs.
- The top of the plateau, at least where I was, is still quite hilly with valleys and such. But still few "views" away from the brow.
- I neglected to mention earlier that a time zone boundary (Eastern/Central) runs down the ridge along the Hamilton/Sequatchie county line. Our soccer game was quite near the line and cell phones kept switching time zones depending on which cell tower we were picking up. At the end of the game we were discussing the next games and our scheduling app was showing different people different times for the same games. I know several people who live in Central and work in Eastern, but living right on the border would be a pain. The lot on the west brow would be in the Central time zone.
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Old 05-18-2015, 12:01 PM
Location: chattanooga
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Just a follow up and what was posted...Ridgeside itself does not have a view. The area in Hixson North you were writing about is called Big Ridge, and it is a nice area, and your dollar amount would most certainly get you one of the best houses in that area. North Chattanooga is another option for brow views, beautiful place, private schools would be your bet there, or just join a homeschool group if public schools aren't your option (we have fantastic homeschool groups in this area)
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Old 05-19-2015, 09:41 AM
Location: South of DAYTON
1,253 posts, read 4,471,063 times
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Smile Soddy GORGE , Montlake golf // Georgia brow

..M.G.. : Welcome, just started reading your mtn top search..... You got some helpful info above..
Here are a few more options north or south of the Signal mtn neighborhood... We are currently up on the SODDY RIDGE,, very near the Montlake golf course.. Our elderly widow friend has her large Brow house
on realtor ,, com for $325 K . Here is a one acre + lot in the same section for your s.e. views.
http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...3-68469?row=28 LINK address connecting.. $ 30 K lot...
. I heard here the younger school children go down the plateau / mtn for school....... Some of the Signal mtn school are UP Top ..?

2 ) Into Georgia there are mtn top communities near the CLOUD-LAND CANYON State park... This is
lower Lookout mtn area... South of the Chickamauga battlefield area along rt #27 or slightly west
along the rt #58 road at the town / city of TRENTON ,Ga . This may save you hwy commute time to Atlanta, as the I-75 / I-24 SPLIT merge is high accident / slow down area with the many 18 wheel Big rig Trucks.. !!

Last edited by SPLIT; 05-19-2015 at 09:43 AM.. Reason: typo
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