Weekend Backpacker: Atlanta
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Route 2, Box 150
Rising Fawn, GA 30738
Straddling a deep gorge carved into the western corner of Lookout Mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek, Cloudland Canyon is a favorite destination among locals in the know. The ridges and valleys here range from 800 feet to 1,980 feet in elevation and offer beautiful panoramas alongside rugged rocks. The most spectacular view of the gorge is from the parking lot in the picnic area. There are two waterfalls at the base of the canyon where Daniel Creek cascades over layers of sandstone and shale into clear pools below.
Recommended trip: Cloudland Backcountry Trail. This 5.4-mile trail descends through a mixed deciduous-evergreen forest to Bear Creek. It then follows the creek briefly before ascending along a rivulet that provides the water source for the trail's two primitive campsites. The trail rises to the plateau, where it roller-coasters over some low hardwood ridges before descending through a cove and paralleling Bear Creek Canyon. There is also a scenic 4.9-mile loop trail that parallels the west rim of the canyon.
Getting there: From Atlanta, take Interstate 75 North to GA 136, just north of Calhoun. Take GA 136 west to Cloudland Canyon.
Permit information: To camp at the primitive sites on the Backcountry Trail, permits are required. These can be purchased for a small fee per camper at the Park Office. There is also a fee for parking in the park overnight.
Maps: A map of the park and its trails is available from the park office.
Practical information: These are easy to moderate trails. The park also offers tent and trailer sites with water, electrical hook-ups, and comfort stations, as well as a number of walk-in sites without water or electricity. The park also rents cottages and offers a pool and tennis court.
Recommended guides: The Hiking Trails of north Georgia by Tim Homan (Peachtree) is an excellent reference for this hike and others in the state parks of north Georgia.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication