For some of Georgia's best hiking trails and camping sites, head to Cloudland Canyon State Park, where creek waters cut through the rock to form a deep gorge in the mountain. The 3,485-acre recreational area is situated on the Cumberland Plateau on Lookout Mountain, 30 miles southwest of Chattanooga and 125 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Home to 1,000-foot canyons, sandstone cliffs, wild caves, cascading creeks, and abundant wildlife, the park is one of the state's largest and most scenic. And, with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, disc golf, fishing, and horseback riding, Cloudland Canyon offers plenty of activities for all ages and abilities.
From unmissable hiking trails to the best overnight accommodations, here's everything you need to know about visiting this stunning Georgia state park.
Things to See and Do
Cloudland Canyon is rife with family-friendly activities. Here are top favorite things to do here.
The park has more than 64 miles of hiking trails, including the beginner-friendly, 1-mile, out-and-back Overlook Trail, which traverses the canyon's rim and offers unparalleled views of the ravine and surrounding woodlands.
For a longer, more strenuous hike, opt for Waterfalls Trail, a 2-mile out-and-back path that descends more than 400 feet into a gorge formed by Daniel Creek. The arduous hike features a 600-step staircase, but it's worth it for views of two separate waterfalls: Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls, which plunge a respective 60 and 90 feet down into the canyon below.
Or try the scenic, 4.8-mile West Rim Loop, a rocky, moderate-to difficult-trail that rewards hikers with shady oak and maple forests, thickets of blooming Rhododendron and mountain laurel, and stellar views of the canyon and surrounding mountains.
In addition, Cloudland Canyon offers 30 miles of dedicated mountain biking trails, much of it along the Five Points Recreation Area. Alternatively, you could take the 14-mile Cloudland Connector trail, a wide, beginner-friendly route through the scenic wooded forest. Bike rentals are available at the Visitor's Center at the park's main entrance; they cost $35 for a half day and $55 for a full day. Only adult bikes are available.
Other Outdoor Activities
Other outdoor options include horseback riding trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, onsite fishing, picnic shelters, a gift shop, playground, tennis courts, and seasonal wild caving.
Where to Stay
Guests seeking an overnight experience at the park can choose from several accommodations, ranging from walk-in campsites to fully-equipped cottages.
For those seeking a traditional camping experience, Cloudland Canyon offers 30 walk-in campsites located on the canyon's western rim. They offer a peaceful night's stay and amenities such as a picnic table, stone fire ring, leveled tent pad, and close access to clean communal bathrooms with sinks, showers, and changing areas. The cost is $20-25 depending on the season, and reservations are available online.
The park also has 13 backcountry campsites scattered across the eastern and western rims, with options for trailers and RVs. The campsites include water and electric hookups, coin-operated washers and dryers, and hot showers. Reservations are required and fees range from $30-38 for trailer and RV stays.
For a less rustic experience, opt for glamping in one of the 10 rental yurts. They sleep six and include a full bed, futons that fold out to full-sized mattresses, a ceiling fan and small heater, screened windows, locking doors, and electrical outlets. A communal bathhouse with showers and toilets is located within walking distance of the yurts, and guests must provide their own linens and cooking utensils. Rentals are $100 and must be reserved in advance.
In addition, the park has two- and three-bedroom cottages with bathrooms that are available via reservation. Cabins come equipped with a few basics: bed and bath linens, toilet paper, dish soap, coffee filters, and dishwasher packs (however, do plan on bringing your own toiletries and kitchen staples such as spices and cooking oils). The cabins all have wood fireplaces and outdoor fire rings, with fire starters available for purchase at the Visitor's Center. Fees range from $100-$210 per night, with a two-night minimum stay except in winter.
How to Get There
From downtown Atlanta, take I-75 N approximately 72 miles to exit 320. Follow GA-136 W for 50 miles, then make a right on Cloudland Canyon Park Road for the main entrance and parking.
From downtown Chattanooga, take I-24 W for 10 miles to I-59 S to Exit 11, GA-136 E/White Oak Gap Road. Follow GA-136 E for approximately 10 miles to Cloudland Canyon Park Road, then follow the directions above.
The park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; parking is $5 per day, with annual passes available. Overnight visitors will receive a code to access the gate after-hours.
Tips for Visitors
- Arrive early during weekends and peak fall foliage season (mid October through early November), as the park and most heavily traversed trails can get crowded.
- Make reservations as soon as possible for onsite accommodations during the summer and fall seasons to ensure availability.
- Note that while alcohol is permitted in cabins, yurts, and campsites, it is prohibited in public areas.
- You can bring your dog along, but keep them on a leash and skip the Waterfalls Trail—the small, metal grates on the path's stairs are not pup-friendly. Dogs are not allowed in cabins or yurts.
- Visit the 1-mile Meadowlands Trail in late June and early July to pick wild blackberries.
- The Visitor's Center at the main entrance offers maps and supplies like shelf-stable foods, ponchos, toilet paper, fire starters, tent repair kits, and bike rentals.