Take A Walk In The Clouds!
Take a walk in the clouds at North Georgia’s 3,485-acre Cloudland Canyon State Park. The park is nestled at the western edge of Lookout Mountain in the northwest corner of the state. Today Lookout Mountain is quiet and serene. However, it was the scene of the “Last Battle of the Cherokees” during the 18th century and witnessed the vicious 1863 Battle of Lookout Mountain during the American Civil War. Wind currents and the mountain’s unique shape and location often create an unusual weather phenomenon. Just after sunrise, fog descends from the cooler mountaintop toward the valley floor below, stopping about halfway down the mountainside. These mystical type cloud formations occurred on November 24, the day of the battle, hence its whimsical name, the “Battle Among The Clouds”.
Located at Rising Fawn, Cloudland is commonly considered to be one of the most beautiful state parks in the State of Georgia. In spring, the canyon floor is blanketed with a thick carpet of wildflowers. Dense stands of flowering laurel, red bud and rhododendron grace the hillsides. During summer abundant thickets of ripening blueberries scent the mountain air. In autumn, the fall foliage is magnificent as nature paints the hills vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and purple. Wildlife is abundant. Black bear, whitetail deer, coyote, fox, badger, squirrel, possum, bobcat and various other small mammals and reptiles inhabit the park. Birding enthusiasts delight in viewing eagles and ospreys that nest along the canyon walls.
A 1,900-foot deep gorge carved by Sitton Gulch Creek divides the park. Elevations vary from 800 to 1,980 feet. Test yourself against the mountain. A trek through Cloudland Canyon is a demanding challenge for even the most experienced hiker. However, the observation area for the best view of the canyon can be reached via an easy, handicap-accessible pathway near the picnic area.
The park offers stellar views, cliff-lined trails and steep, stair-stepped hikes as one descends to the canyon floor. The infamous Waterfall Trails presents a 600-step staircase decent over the 4.8 West Rim Loop. This trail offers spectacular views of two cascading waterfalls. Other trails include the 2.0-mile Backcountry Loop, the 6.5-mile Sitton Gulch Trail and the 9.0-mile Cloudland Connector Trail.
Guided hikes and family-friendly cave tours are offered by Georgia Girl Guides, an on-site outfitter. The cave tour is an ideal way to get “wet and muddy” and enjoy the thrilling experience of exploring a wild cave. Different types of cave tours are offered year-round. For reservations call (706) 913-7170.
Managed and operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Cloudland Canyon State Park features a wealth of recreational opportunities including swimming, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, horseshoes, camping, caving, orienteering, photography, swimming and picnicking. The park even offers tennis courts and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Park amenities include 10 yurts, 15 cottages, 1 family lodge, 72 campsites with water, electric and a fire ring, 4 pioneer camps, 13 backcountry campsites, 5 picnic shelters and 1 group shelter. Recently opened, Cloudland Canyon’s yurt village is a popular lodging choice for families. The yurts are weather-tight, elevated and designed to deter wildlife. Cozy and comfortable, the yurts feature hand-hewn furniture, hardwood floors, locking doors and a bunk bed and two futons that sleep up to six people. Ceiling fans and space heaters are provided for seasonal comfort. Each yurt has its own private deck, water spigot, fire ring and picnic table. Cloudland Canyon State Park Ranger Rene Everette advises, “All you need to bring are sleeping bags and linens, cooking utensils, a cooler, food, and family or friends.”
Whether you are seeking an extreme outdoor adventure or a relaxing destination for a family vacation, Cloudland Canyon State Park is sure to please. For trail conditions, reservations and assistance in planning your holiday, contact Cloudland Canyon State Park, 122 Cloudland Canyon Park Road, Lookout Mountain, Georgia 30738 or call (706) 657-4050.