Cloudland Canyon

  • Location: Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia; south of Chattanooga
  • Maps: Park map ; Durham USGS quad; Or see the tracklog below
  • Access:From I-59 in northern Georgia, take the Trenton exit and head east on 136, jogging to the south 0.1 mile in town. Continue to head east on 136 for 5.9 miles, then turn left (north) into the state park, pay your fee, and continue 1.3 miles to the hikers parking lot near the interpretive center.
  • Trailhead: UTM zone 16s  638956e 3855769n
  • Trail: We hiked to both waterfalls, then completed the West Rim Trail, a route of 5.8 miles and about 800 ft total elevation  gain. 
  • Fees: $5/car
  • Weather: Local forecast from the NWS

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    June 26, 2010
    On a cloudy but warm day in June, Andra and I drove south into Georgia and rolled into Cloudland Canyon State Park around 10:30. We threw on our boots and set out from the hikers parking area towards the thrillingly-named “waterfall 1” and “waterfall 2”. Very direct. The trail was easy to find, and we followed yellow blazes along the canyon rim through nice oak and pine woods to a series of stairs that led down to the first waterfall, a nice narrow drop from limestone cliffs above into a greenish pool. Very nice. We retraced our steps back to the fork in the trail, and then descended several hundred stairs down a steep canyon face to the second waterfall, which was perhaps a bit nicer, but access was limited to an observation deck 100 feet away. This trail continued on to Sittons Gulch, but we opted to return up the hill and tackle the West Rim Trail. The climb out of the canyon on those stairs was not exactly exhausting, but we were streaming sweat from the heat and humidity by the time we reached our starting point. I’m still getting used to this humidity thing. 

    From there we headed west across Daniel Creek and then north towards the West Rim loop. Yellow blazes mark the trail, and in some places, the frequency of blazes is absurd, with every 3rd tree seemingly painted with a bright yellow splotch. The route was fairly level on the plateau, leading through a drier forest of pines and oak. The breeze was nice, and the air was drier than in the canyon, such that we dried out a bit from our exertions. This section of the trail was less busy than the waterfall area, but I was still surprised by how many groups of hikers we encountered. The trail crossed the cottage access road, and then reached the cliffs overlooking the urban areas to the north, where the sound of traffic below wafted up to us. Shortly after, we stopped and had snacks on a few large rocks near the trail. Heading back along the canyon rim, we had frequent nice overlook platforms from which to enjoy the view, and it is a pretty impressive view of the canyon walls and hardwood forests below. Looking across the canyon we could see the parking lot, and our end goal. 

    The sun came out, brightening colors, but it stayed reasonably cool as we plodded along. As we neared the Daniels Creek crossing, activity picked up a bit, and lots of people were hiking along the stairs leading down to the waterfalls below. We reached the car around 1:30, and set off for lunch in Chattanooga. 


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    Page created 6-26-10
    Updated 11-1-11