Hike the West Rim Loop Trail to some seriously epic views at Cloudland Canyon State Park, exploring the canyon’s east and west rims and catching exceptional vistas from a number of lofty overlooks.

georgia hiking trails: 4-6 miles 4.9 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
difficult
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Cloudland Canyon State Park near Chattanooga, TN

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

Cloudland Canyon State Park offers some of Georgia’s most spectacular views from its deep-chiseled, broad canyon rims. The West Rim Loop catches some of the canyon’s best views, dropping from the east rim, plunging through the canyon, and then climbing to the west canyon walls. This hike packs more visual beauty than just about any other in the park, exploring many of the most scenic and sweeping views, and catching breathtaking vistas throughout the hike.

Hike the West Rim Loop Trail at Cloudland Canyon State Park to some seriously epic North Georgia views

Along the hike’s five mile loop, the trail hike hugs some sheer drop-offs and steep elevations on the canyon’s rim, so be extremely careful on the trail, and mindful of the steep terrain. Mile for mile, it’s one of Georgia’s most scenic hikes, so don’t forget to snap some fully Instagram-worthy shots. And don’t forget your hammock, either: a number of spots along the loop trail offer a great place to hang out and enjoy the sublime views.

Hike the West Rim Loop Trail to some seriously epic views at Cloudland Canyon State Park, exploring the canyon's east and west rims and catching exceptional vistas from a number of lofty overlooks. #hiking #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Cloudland Canyon’s West Rim Loop Trail: the hike

The hike begins at the park’s East Rim trailhead (view maps and driving directions), following the Waterfalls Trail for the first quarter mile and then veering to the left. The West Rim Trail dives deeper into the canyon, hiking southbound and following regularly-spaced yellow blazes.

The trail crosses a wooden bridge spanning Sitton’s Gulch Creek at .35 mile, and then rapidly gains elevation, carving through a series of switchbacks. The hike climbs to the west rim, scrambling over the rocky, boulder-strewn canyon floor and ascending through a beautiful forest filled with rhododendron, hemlock, and large rocks crusted in moss and silvery lichen. The forest is fragrant, and the scent of evergreen and pine fill the air. The trail passes a shallow cave at .6 miles, nearing the canyon rim.

Hike Georgia's Cloudland Canyon State Park to a cave on the canyon's western rim

The trail crests to the rim, passing the park’s yurt village at .65 mile. The yellow-blazed trail begins to skirt the canyon’s western wall, catching spectacular views from a broad, sculpted rock outcrop at 1 mile.

The trail veers westbound, darting into the shade of a young forest and skirting a steep, sheer dropoff on the trail’s right side. The hike reaches a bridge spanning a small creek at 1.25 miles, crossing the bridge and beginning to hike the trail’s loop portion in a counterclockwise direction. The trail veers to the east, following the stream in a loop back to the canyon’s western rim. Views open suddenly as the trail exits the forest, opening to a wide, expansive vista from a large rock outcropping at 1.8 miles.

Hike to stunning views from towering overlooks at Cloudland Canyon State Park near Chattanooga, TN

The trail departs the canyon rim at 2 miles, hiking through a young forest and climbing a gentle incline. Occasional views break through on the trail’s right side as the hike ascends. Several side trails depart to the left, leading to the park’s northern cabins.

The hike reaches a side trail to the loop’s final overlook at 2.75 miles. The hike follows the side trail, descending a series of stone stairs to a fenced overlook and catching incredible views of the opposite canyon wall and Lookout Mountain to the north.

WHike Cloudland Canyon in North Georgia to breathtaking, broad vistas from the canyon's steep-walled western rim

Departing the overlook, the hike retraces back to the main loop and continues to rise steadily, crossing through a field of enormous boulders at 2.65 miles. The West Rim Loop begins a steady decline, crossing a road at 2.8 miles and veering through several wide switchbacks in a rocky hardwood forest. The trail crosses several seasonal creek beds and passes the access trail to the Cloudland Canyon walk-in campsites. The hike reaches the end of the trail’s loop at 3.5 miles, reaching the bridge and turning right, crossing the bridge. From here, the hike retraces its outbound steps to the trailhead, dipping through the canyon’s southern end, crossing Sitton’s Gulch Creek, and climbing to the East Rim trailhead. The hike reaches the trailhead at 4.9 miles, completing the adventure.

More hiking adventures at Cloudland Canyon State Park

Have energy and daylight left? Don’t miss the hike to the canyon’s incredible waterfalls on the Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail. It’s a strenuous workout, with a ton of challenging stairs – but the views of Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls are simply incredible. Or explore the canyon’s boulder-filled floor under the canopy of fragrant hemlock on the Sitton’s Gulch Trail. Find more adventure inspiration at this outstanding park in our Cloudland Canyon State Park adventure guide. And if you’re up for more gorge-filled adventures, check out our favorite hikes in Georgia’s canyons for some truly spectacular sights.

Chase some more epic views to the north near Chattanooga, scrambling through a mossy, waterfall-filled forest to stunning vistas on the Fiery Gizzard Trail to Raven Point. Hike a northern stretch of Lookout Mountain and score views of the Tennesee River on a hike to Sunset Rock. Or follow the Cumberland Trail at Signal Mountain, crossing a span bridge to exceptional views at Edwards Point.


Cloudland Canyon West Rim Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

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This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Friends of Georgia State Parks. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Driving Directions



Parking

$5, or included with a Friends of Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites membership.


GPS Coordinates

34.834667, -85.480517     //     N34 50.080 W85 28.831

Elevation Profile

Cloudland Canyon West Rim Trail: Elevation Profile
 
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

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, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.