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Georgia on my mind
I grew up in Northwest Georgia and have visited and hiked in Cloudland Canyon State Park many times over the years. It covers 3485 acres located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain on the Cumberland Plateau and offers scenic overlooks, waterfalls, and streams. There are a couple of hiking options for day hikes and backpacking, and the park has campsites and cottages for rent. The best day hike combination is to start with the Waterfalls trails (1 mi RT) and continue on the West Rim Loop (4.9 mi RT).
From the parking area and scenic overlook, follow signs to Waterfall trail consisting of 600 steps down the canyon wall of sandstone and shale. After 0.3 miles the trail forks to the left for the upper falls (50 ft waterfall) and to the right for the lower falls (100 ft waterfall). Typical flora visible on the way down includes mountain laurel, eastern hemlock, and rhododendron. If you want to time your visit during the Fall foliage peak, the park website has a "Leaf Watch" with webcam.
Once you get to the falls, relax on the large boulders around the edge of the pool, but there's no hiking around the waterfalls nor swimming in the pools. Return back up the way you came to connect back with the West Rim Loop trail.
The West Rim Loop Trail is packed with views and scenic lookout points. After 1.3 miles from the intersection with the Waterfall trail you come on a bridge that is the start/end of the loop. Go straight (looping counter-clockwise) to hit the overlooks first and then return on the interior forest portion of the trail. At the overlooks, you'll have views of Sitton Gulch, the city of Trenton, and Lookout Valley.
Cloudland Canyon hiking is popular in the Spring, Summer, and Fall and is especially crowded on the weekends. The park also includes tennis courts and a disc golf course. It's proximity to both Alabama and Tennessee make this Georgia State Park a regional favorite.
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