Cloudland Canyon boasts steep canyon walls, interesting geology, outstanding views and several waterfalls along a 1200 foot deep canyon in Northwest Georgia
Length: 6.8 miles
Highlights: Breathtaking views abound along these two joined hiking trails that follow the rim of Cloudland Canyon before descending to the canyon floor.
Located in the Northwest corner of Georgia and extending along the Western edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon boasts steep canyon walls, interesting geology, outstanding views and several waterfalls along a 1200 foot deep canyon cut into the mountainous terrain over millions of years by Sitton’s Gulch Creek.
The hike begins on the yellow-blazed West Rim Loop trail inside Cloudland Canyon State Park. Leave the parking area and walk North along the well-marked path to the trailhead intersection, turning right to cross the park road and begin hiking the trail. The trail extends through deciduous forest, following alongside several small creeks, before meeting the canyon. Spectacular views open up as the trail approaches the canyon and turns right to follow along the canyon rim.
After following the canyon rim for a half mile over several rock outcrops before beginning the descent into the canyon. The trail switches back as it descends, passing by an impressively formed cave and several Native American trail marker trees that point decidedly towards the falls at the bottom of the canyon.
The trail crosses a small creek by bridge before meeting the Waterfalls Trail, a 2 mile out-and-back trail that travels an impressively built series of trails, bridges and stairs (more than 600 stairs each direction) to the bottom of the canyon.
At the base of the canyon, two waterfalls descend from giant curved outcrops of shale and sandstone as Sitton’s Gulch Creek continues to carve deep into the canyon.
After visiting the second waterfall, follow the trail over a long bridge spanning the creek to the West side of the canyon for a view of a third – yet smaller – waterfall and the rugged canyon floor. This is a lesser visited spot than the first two waterfalls and is a great mid-hike rest or lunch spot.
Retrace your steps along the Waterfall Trail, climbing along the series of bridges and stairs out of the canyon. You’ll ascend back up Cloudland Canyon on the West rim along the yellow-blazed West Rim trail, retracing your steps along this trail until you pass a bridge on the right of the trail. Turn right, crossing the bridge, to continue along the West Rim trail, following the trail as it loops around opens up to more expansive views of the North side of the canyon. The trail follows the canyon rim before turning West, returning to the trailhead and parking area.
The easy accessibility of all that Cloudland Canyon has to offer – fantastic views, waterfalls, and great hiking trails – within a state park leads to the expected heavy traffic along the trails… especially on weekends in peak Spring and Fall seasons. The trails don’t offer the serenity of some of our lesser-travelled hikes that we’ve featured… but we still highly recommend this park’s trails for the outstanding beauty and impressive geology that Cloudland Canyon has to offer.
Parking fee: $5 daily parking
Directions and more info on Cloudland Canyon can be found on the Georgia State Parks site at http://www.gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon.
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