Hiking the Cloudland Canyon State Park waterfalls trail: top Georgia waterfall hikes

Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail

Hike the popular Waterfalls Trail at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Descend the steep canyon walls via stairs to two waterfalls, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls, that cascade in the beautiful, steep-walled canyon.

trail info

2.1 miles
(round trip)
most
difficult
Difficult
for dogs

LOCATION:Cloudland Canyon State Park near Dalton, Georgia (maps & directions)

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

North Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon offers stunning views deep into its waterfall-filled depths and across its wide expanse. The park’s most popular trail, the Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail, drops from the canyon’s towering walls to its floor and hikes to two stunning waterfalls, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls.

Hike to the beautiful Cherokee Falls waterfall at Cloudland Canyon State Park in North Georgia

Though this out-and-back hike is only two miles, it’s a difficult trek: the trail drops over 400 feet to the waterfalls before climbing to return to the trailhead. The hike’s many stairs are a workout, for sure: but the beauty of the falls make the hike so worthwhile.

Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail: the hike

The Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail departs from the East Rim parking area (view maps and driving directions), hiking the paved trail that skirts the canyon’s eastern walls. Views here from the canyon rim are incredibly beautiful in any season – though they’re especially gorgeous in autumn when the canyon’s deciduous forest explodes in vibrant, colorful fall leaf colors.

Hike Georgia's Cloudland Canyon State Park to epic canyon views and two stunning waterfalls

The Waterfalls Trail splits from Cloudland’s West Rim trail at .25 mile, turning right to drop deeper into the picturesque canyon, hiking northbound. The trail crosses a variety of surfaces as it drops elevation, alternating between dirt paths, wooden boardwalks, and long stretches of metal stairs. Steeply-chiseled canyon walls hug the trail’s sides for much of the descent – and posted signs warn of the danger of falling rock from overhead.

Hike the Waterfalls Trail at Georgia's Cloudland Canyon, descending into the steep-walled gorge to visit two enormous, beautiful waterfalls

The trail reaches a second intersection at .45 miles, turning left here to hike to the first waterfall, Cherokee Falls. Cherokee Falls plunges 60 feet into a clear blue pool of water, Sitton’s Gulch Creek dropping from an immense, arced rock outcrop. The waterfall varies in intensity with seasonal rainfall, ranging from a roaring drop to a mere trickle. Colorful mosses, lichen, and vines cling to the enormous rock wall, and mossy boulders litter the canyon floor beneath the falls.

The trail departs Cherokee Falls, retracing the hike to the second trail intersection. The trail approaches the second waterfall, Hemlock Falls, following the Waterfalls Trail through a second stretch of boardwalk and stairs. The hike reaches the Hemlock Falls wooden viewing platform at just over 1 mile. Hemlock Falls drops over 90 feet from an arced rock wall, plunging into the surrounding boulder-filled canyon floor.

Hike the Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail to visit two of Georgia's most beautiful waterfalls, Hemlock Falls and Cherokee Falls

Departing the immense waterfall, the hike retraces its outbound route to the trailhead, climbing 600 stairs to Cloudland Canyon’s east rim. The trail reaches the trailhead at just over 2 miles, completing the view-packed adventure.

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.

More Cloudland Canyon State Park adventures

Have energy (and daylight) left to burn? Check out other Cloudland Canyon hiking trails and camping sites in our Cloudland Canyon Hiking, Backpacking & Camping Guide.

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Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail Map, Directions & Details

Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail Map
Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

$5, or included with a Georgia State Parks annual pass.

GPS Coordinates

34.834667, -85.480517     //     N34 50.080 W85 28.831

Elevation Profile

Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail: Elevation Profile
Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails is an official Leave No Trace partner

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.