Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn, Georgia

    Cloudland Canyon State ParkTrail:  Waterfalls Trail

    Directions:  From Atlanta, take I-75 North to exit 320, highway 136 west towards Lafayette.  Stay on highway 136 for approximately 47 miles.  Turn right onto Cloudland Canyon Park Road.

    General Information:

    Terrain:  The trail to the waterfalls from the parking lot is very steep and has multiple levels of staircases.    It is extremely strenuous.  There is a total of over 1200 steps.

    Distance: Approximately a two mile round trip.

    Family Oriented: This trail is great for older kids, 12 and above.  Younger kids will not be able to handle the amount of stairs. It is not suited for younger children.  Because the trail is steep and slippery in some locations, we do not advise that you carry any young children in a front or back pack.

    Waterfalls Trail - Cloudland CanyonDogs Allowed: Yes, must be on a leash.  You must clean up after your animal.

    Hiking Fees: Because this is a state park, there is a $5.00 fee that you can pay at the parking lot.  You can also purchase an annual state parking pass, which is good at all state parks.

    About:  This hike is quite a workout.  You may not realize it when you are going down into the canyon, but you have to climb all of those stairs to get back out.  But, it is well worth it.  These waterfalls are two of my favorites in the state.  They are elegant, simple and juxtaposed against huge boulders and old growth trees.

    The trail begins at the top of the canyon at the rim.  There is a spectacular overlook that takes the viewer’s sight down and out the mouth of the canyon.  The canyon walls are mostly forested, but large outcroppings of rock reveal themselves at different elevations.  The variation in colors from the deep green forest to the oranges and tans of the rock provides you with an awe inspiring scene.

    Also at the overlook, you are greeted with the sound of the waterfalls below.  They are mostly hidden from view because of the thick vegetation.

    This trail is wonderful to hike all year round, but it is spectacular during the fall with the leaves changing and in the spring, early summer with the local flora in bloom.

    Cloudland Canyon - Waterfalls TrailAs mentioned above, the terrain is very steep.  The Georgia state park service has created an amazing set of staircases to help you to the canyon floor.  There are numerous benches along the way, that you will utilize while ascending back up to the canyon rim.

    The trails are well marked and it is nearly impossible to get lost.  Just keep heading down.

    Many rocky overhangs adorn the trail.  Be careful if you have a pack.  Also, if they have had any rain recently, the trail will be wet and slippery.

    Cloudland Canyon may be hard to get to, but it is truly a jewel in the crown of the Georgia state park system.

    Waterfall two - Cloudland CanyonThe Hike:  We got up extremely early, knowing that we had a three hour drive ahead of us.  We wanted to be on the trail in the early morning, so it would be cool.  We arrived at around 8:45 and were greeted with about 60 degree temperatures.  It was mid-September.  Looking out at the overlook, we saw the sun touching the western rim of the canyon.

    After enjoying the view for a few minutes, we decided to head down to the canyon floor and the waterfalls.  Because we did arrive that early, we almost had the entire trail to ourselves.

    The stairs just kept on coming.  No sooner would we reach the bottom of one flight, just to be greeted by another set.  The stairs do hug the canyon wall.  There are beautiful mammoth boulders jutting out from the cliff face.

    The entire hike down was completely shaded.  This kept us and the surrounding area cool.

    We took the fork to go to the second waterfall first.  Arriving at the waterfall overlook, we were presented with a beautiful cascade of water falling over what looked like a 60 foot drop into a clear pool.  There was a viewing platform which we were constrained.  There are numerous signs in the park that state no climbing on rocks, swimming or wading.

    It was then time to climb part of the way back up to go to the first waterfall.  It was just a spectacular as the previous.  You are able to walk right up to the pool.  This waterfall appears to be a bit taller.

    Waterfall one - Cloudland CanyonAfter enjoying the sound of falling water and the solitude of the place, we started the climb back up to the top.  We found ourselves having to stop a few times to catch our breath before we moved on.

    These waterfalls are truly incredible.  They are the definition of a waterfall.  I highly recommend this hike to anyone.  They are not to be missed.

    There are other hikes in the park:  The west rim loop trail, 5 miles; Sitton’s Gulch Loop Trail, 6.5 miles; Long branch trail, 5.6 miles/one way; Two-mile backcountry loop trail, 2.5 miles round trip.

    Tips:

    • This is reverse of a normal mountain hike.  You start at the top and hike to the bottom.  Know your limits.
    • The trail is well blazed, traveled and maintained.
    • Camping areas as well as the parking lot fill up fast on the weekends.
    • This trail is a great alternative to hiking on ridge lines or mountain tops.  The falls are spectacular and the tree cover keeps you cool.

     

    Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

     

    Russell

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2 Responses to “Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn, Georgia”

  1. Russell says:

    Thanks for the advice about the shoes.

    I know about the workout, my calves were hurting the next day.

  2. Sharon Paradiso says:

    Great descriptions and great photos — this is one of my favorite places in Georgia. Some of the spots on the way down can get muddy so wear shoes you feel comfortable getting dirty — although I have seen people going down in flip-flops. Expect to get a good leg workout with the stairs!