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Hi.

Welcome to my corner of North Georgia. I document my adventures and outdoor activities in hopes of inspiring others to make the most of each day. It is my goal to make hiking accessible and non-intimidating, while promoting responsible enjoyment of the environment. No trail is too short!

Cloudland Canyon Day Trip 10-24-15

Cloudland Canyon State Park does not have a 4000+ peak but it is probably the most beautiful place I have been in Georgia. The last time we took a hike specifically to look at fall foliage was for my birthday in 2011. We went to Amicalola Falls and unfortunately, the foliage really wasn't that great that year. 
Cloudland Canyon, however, was stunning. We were seriously stopping every 2 minutes to take pictures and just enjoy the scenery. The dogs had a wonderful time also. They may have short legs but had absolutely no problem keeping up. 


Cloudland Canyon is about a 2 hour drive northwest from where we live in the north metro of Atlanta. It is not difficult to reach from 1-75. The bulk of the non-highway driving is on SR-136, which goes through the Chattahoochee National Forest and passes other hiking areas such as a Pinhoti Trail stop and Johns Mountain Wildlife Management area. It is a scenic drive with many farms, pastures, etc. 


The park was very crowded this weekend, because it is reportedly the peak weekend for fall foliage in north Georgia. There are several trail options and the Cloudland Canyon website clearly lines these out. We did the waterfalls trail first, which is only 2 miles long, but has thousands of stair steps. While the views of the waterfalls were lovely, I would not recommend this trail for dogs. The stairs are open metal grate type material and little Nova could not even walk on them due to her feet slipping through. Therefore, I carried her up and down. She only weighs ~8 lbs but it was not very fun for either of us. Tennille could handle the steps but was hesitant and we had to coax her up and down, with many stops along the way. It seemed most of the visitors wanted to do the waterfalls trail, so the steps were crowded with people going in both   directions. Not good to have dogs underfoot....


               
After the waterfalls trail, we went on to the West Rim Loop Trail, which is about 5 miles long, and provided the best views of the surrounding scenery. This trail features large, rocky outcroppings with many observation areas, panoramic views of the canyon cliff faces covered in various color leaves, a stretch of peaceful, relatively flat woodlands, and several hike in campsites. It is not a strenuous trail and has very little incline. The dogs had a blast on this trail and Nova literally bounced over all the roots and rocks. There was not a lot of traffic on this trail at all, especially the second half once we looped around.



         





These are just a fraction of the photos I took. It was hard to choose which ones were best, considering each and every tree had such unique colors. The weather also varied quite a bit throughout the afternoon which changed the ways things looked. It started out cloudy but then rained a bit and humidity rose, causing some haze over the mountains. Once the rain cleared up, the sun came out but by then was around 5 pm. Regardless, the changing sunlight created many different "filters" on the leaves and rock. 

In summary, our visit to Cloudland Canyon was a fantastic day trip. Honestly, we got a pretty late start and did not actually begin hiking until about 2 pm. We started the West Rim trail at about 4 pm, so even if you only have a few hours to spare, a hike around Cloudland Canyon is within reach. We got back to the parking area around 6:30 pm with daylight to spare. We did 7 miles total, with many stops for pictures and doggy water breaks. We easily could have spent the whole day or even the night here, but we do have other obligations today. Our niece is being baptized and and sadly, I have some work to do. But there is always next weekend...

The list

The beginning of the trail