Hike several scenic trails in Lula Lake Land Trust to two tumbling waterfalls, the 120-foot freefall at Lula Falls, and a spectacular 20-foot waterfall into an emerald-hued lake.
LOCATION:near Cloudland Canyon State Park in North Georgia
OFFICIAL MAP: Land Trust Trail Maps (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)
Lula Lake Land Trust is a privately owned property in Northwest Georgia dedicated to preserving the Rock Creek watershed since 1994. It is home to over eight miles of trails filled with waterfalls, overlooks, and beautiful hardwood forests. This popular hike follows the Middle Trail, Ford Trail, and North Creek Trail, crossing a tall wooden bridge, exploring scenic stretches along Rock Creek, and visiting two tumbling waterfalls.
Know before you go: the land trust is only open to the public on specific weekend days. Please check the official website before you go. And beginning February 23, 2019, reservations will be required to park and access the trails. To help counter the damage caused from recent overuse, 85 parking spot reservations will available for each open day at www.LulaLake.org/events. The Conservation Use Fee reservation price is $15.00 per car, and 100% of the proceeds will be used to further conservation at Lula Lake.
Lula Lake Land Trust: the hike
This hike leaves from the first parking area closest to the check-in area (view maps and driving directions), and follows above and along Rock Creek until it reaches the falls. The hike begins southbound, crossing a stone and wooden bridge across Rock Creek and beginning the northeast-bound climb up the Middle Trail.
The hike is moderately steep for the first 0.2 mile, and then it flattens out as it explores a hardwood forest above the creek. Hemlocks, poplars, and pines line the trail. At .6 mile, the Middle Trail intersects with the Ford Trail. The Ford Trail descends towards the creek as the Middle Trail continues to rise the valley. While both routes offer roughly the same distance to the enormous waterfall, the Ford Trail connects to the North Creek Trail, which runs along some scenic sections of the river and also visits the falls at Lula Lake.
This hike veers left on the Ford Trail, following it eastbound, and then right on the North Creek Trail, hiking northbound. The trail opens up to a bridge over a turbulent section of the creek, before the rushing water drops over a 20-foot waterfall into a beautiful emerald-colored pool below. A unique sandstone dome rises 35 feet over the pool, which beautifully captures the reflections of the ripples of the water in the morning hours.
Above the east side of the pool, the trail widens into a dirt road and continues downstream for another 0.3 miles before reaching some viewpoints of Lula Falls.
There are several ways to access and appreciate the epic 120-foot falls. To descend to the gorge floor, follow the Old Lula Falls Trail on the left, or the Lula Falls Trail another 0.1 mile further. Both access points are quite steep with a lot of stairs. The bottom of the gorge delivers incredible views of the waterfall that really put the power of the plunging water into perspective. From the gorge floor, the trail gets very vague, but this is an opportunity to climb some boulders, explore around, or have a snack.
Because of its volume and height, the waterfall spits out a ton of mist through the valley. The closer you get to the waterfall, the wetter everything becomes and the slipperier the surfaces are. If you choose to get up close to the falls, be sure to wear a rain jacket or poncho and take extra caution with each step.
There are a number of return routes to the parking area – but retracing the outbound path will take you southbound along the creek on the North Creek Trail, up the valley on the Ford Trail, and back down to the wood and stone bridge on the Middle Trail. The hike reaches the trailhead at just over 3 miles, completing the adventure.
Nearby hike-worthy adventures
This stretch of Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee is exceptionally beautiful, and one of our all-time favorite areas to explore. Hike to tumbling waterfalls and enormous views at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Explore the tumbling cascades of Foster Falls, easily one of the most stunning falls in the Southeast. Hike through the Savage Gulf State Natural Area to the exceptional Greeter Falls. Scramble through incredible rock formations and carved boulders on the Rocktown Trail at Pigeon Mountain. Explore an old marble mine on the Marble Mine Trail at James H Sloppy Floyd State Park. And find even more adventures on our favorite hiking trails near Chattanooga.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Lula Lake Land Trust. 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!
$15 Conservation Use Fee
34.921867, -85.380600 // N34 55.312 W85 22.836