Georgia: Up, up and away

Georgia: Up, up and away

Outdoors lures new residents

March 27th, 2009 by Amy Williams in Georgia

Staff File Photo<br> A hang glider pilot takes off from the main launch site at Lookout Mountain Flight Park in Rising Fawn, Ga. The Flight Park is one of the region's outdoor attractions.

Staff File Photo<br> A hang glider pilot takes off...

For years, Liz Fortanier dreamed of living close enough to the mountains that she could go hang gliding any time she wanted.

So three years ago, she moved from Atlanta to her new home in Lookout Mountain, Ga.

"I've been hang gliding since '90, so I would come here on the weekends," she said. "At some point I thought, 'If I can make it happen with work and I can work from home, then I'd rather live here.' And there's no comparison."

Ms. Fortanier is one of a growing number of outdoors enthusiasts lured to the Chattanooga and North Georgia area because of the area's mountains, rivers and other natural resources.

Those resources, combined with the efforts of Outdoor Chattanooga, which works to promote outdoor recreation, is putting the region on the map of the national outdoor industry, as well as drawing tourists and people such as Ms. Fortanier, who want to live here.

Hang-gliding instructor Dan Zink said about 3,000 people hang glide at Lookout Mountain Flight Park each year. The flight park is the largest hang-gliding school in the nation, according to the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

The plentiful opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area help lure more people to hang gliding, Mr. Zink said.

"The great thing is the same type of person that wants to go kayaking is the same adventurous spirit that wants to go hang gliding," he said.

In addition to hang gliding in Rising Fawn, Ga., Ms. Fortanier also hikes regularly with her two dogs at Cloudland Canyon State Park, which was designated by Backpacker magazine as one of the top 30 hiking destinations in the United States.

"You're on the ridge, and you have these wonderful views of the valley," Ms. Fortanier said. "It's just beautiful."