Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia
I spent my last day before returning to WWOOFing at Cloudland Canyon State Park, located just over the Tennessee border in northwest Georgia. I had been impressed by the beauty of Greeter Falls the day before, but I found myself truly stunned by the vistas from the plateau as well as the falls at the bottom of the canyon at Cloudland. Though the park is an extremely popular destination, I found myself alone on the 5 mile West Rim Loop Trail that morning. The trail descends at first, crossing to the other side of the rim but quickly rises through the forest for another mile or so before breaking out along the exposed rock ledge. This section of trail was very reminiscent of the Lantern Hill hike in Ledyard, Connecticut but overlooked the deep canyon rather than the expansive thick forests of the northeast. The views of course were stunning but the loveliness of the canyon rim itself was a treat. At the mouth of the canyon you can catch a glimpse of the farmland in the valley below before turning away from the rim into the trees. Here the sounds of rushing water and vague echoes from the canyon were replaced by the silence of the forest which was punctuated only by the intermittent chirps and twitters of the birds. The loop reconnects by one of the creek crossings that feed the waterfalls cascading over the rim below and I followed it through the forest – and past the entertaining trail markers – back to the trailhead.
After cooking up some soup and quinoa at the picnic tables on the plateau top I headed back to the same trailhead and began the steep descent into the canyon along the Waterfalls Trail. The 2 mile trail consists almost entirely of stairs though the known beauty of the waterfalls made this is a very popular and crowded “hike.” I descended first to Hemlock Falls which can be viewed from a boardwalk and then hiked farther into the canyon to Cherokee Falls. Both falls were spectacular, the former wilder and the latter bluer. The canyon depths themselves were gorgeous as well, thickly forested and yet still bright with sunlight. I absolutely loved this park; the West Rim Loop Trail was one of my top ten favorite hikes of my trip so far and the waterfalls at the canyon floor speak for themselves. I will definitely return and I highly recommend going should you find yourself in the area.