Southern Agenda

Branching Out

“Most people either had a tree house as a kid or wanted one,” says Treetop Hideaways owner Enoch Elwell. The company recently opened three luxury tree-house lodges at Ruby Falls in Chattanooga (in addition to its original cluster just below Rock City), and Elwell insists that winter visits are wonderful. “The tree houses are elevated in the forest, and with branches bare, you get incredible views,” he says, including a vista of the Tennessee River snaking toward downtown framed by a floor-to-ceiling window reclaimed from a Mississippi general store. Other antique details, like a working 1920s Silvertone phonograph with records, boost the nostalgia. And the rooms’ rustic wood construction, with tree trunks rising through, wraps guests’ inner children in warm, fuzzy feelings, while full climate-control systems ensure physical comfort. “It’s so cozy,” says Elwell, who nonetheless encourages venturing outside. “Ruby Falls is always a treat to explore,” he says. “A trail wrapping around Lookout Mountain is right out the tree-house doors; I prefer cold-weather hiking—no bugs.”