Where is Cloudland Canyon State Park
Cloudlands Canyon State park encompasses nearly 3,500 acres on the south western edge of Lookout Mountain in the northwestern corner of Georgia. The park is situated between Trenton and Cooper Heights to the West and Chattanooga to the North. The park is easiest to access via State Route 11 from either Alabama or Tennessee.
How Big is Cloudland Canyon State Park
The park initially opened up during the Great Depression with 1,934 acres of land but has steadily grown to almost double that size through purchases of privately held lands. Cloudland Canyon US State Park is now composed of 3,485 acres, or 1,1410 square kilometers, of Georgia forest land. The entirety of the park resides within the Cumberland Plateau and Lookout Mountain at an elevation of 1,980 feet. The canyon is an astonishing 1,000 feet deep at its lowest point and sits just 800 feet above sea level.
Weather at Cloudland Canyon State Park
The weather at the park remains fairly temperate throughout the year. During the summer months the average daily highs coast in the mid 80’s with daily lows in the mid 60’s, June through September. After October, the weather steadily declines through the winter months culminating in January at its coldest average temperatures in the 40’s during the day and down into the low 30’s during the evening. February begins the rebound of temperate weather leading into a quick recovery into spring with temperatures increasing rapidly from the cool 50’s back up into the 70’s over the course of a few months. Due to the sheltered nature of the plateau, the park rarely experiences wind speeds over ten miles per hour resulting in true overall temperatures throughout the year. The park averages nearly 2 feet of precipitation per year. Most of this coming in the spring and summer months with little snowfall during the winter.
How Did Cloudland Canyon Become a State Park
In the final year of the Great Depression (1938), FDR’s New Deal led the Civilian Conservation Corps to Georgia to create jobs for unemployed men in the area working on maintaining the area known as Sitton Gulch (or Trenton Gulf depending on where you lived). At the time, the newly formed conservation area was only 1,934 acres of Georgia wilderness surrounded by privately held land. The first buildings and signage went up in 1939 and the park was then opened to the public. Over the years, the state of Georgia slowly bought pieces of that privately-owned land around the park primarily owned by the Mathews, McCauley, and McKaig families. Most of whom still reside in the area surrounding the park which has swelled to its present-day area of 3,485 acres.
Things to Do At Cloudland Canyon State Park
Don’t let the short list of activities at Cloudland Canyon deter you. Each one offers a unique and exciting experience! With over 30 miles of hiking and backpacking trails and 100 different campsites to choose from, Cloudland Canyon is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Our State Park Visitors Guides lists here some of the must-do activities at the park.
Though these trails typically only take about 90 minutes to complete, they are an arduous and engaging experience for any hiker. They begin at the top of the plateau and, after a stairway of 600 steps, lead hikers down a 40-degree slope through the canyon down to the riverbed. The Sitton’s Gulch trail then leads hikers on a parallel journey along the riverbed and out to an end point in Trenton. The Waterfall trails offer outstanding views of the geology of the canyon as you descend down the cliff face.
West Rim Loop Trails
These trails offer a five-mile trek around the western portion of the canyon. Considered more of a relaxing stroll in comparison to the downward slopes of the Waterfall Trails, the West Rim Loop Trails offer a panoramic view of the intoxicating cloud line and canyons below.
Bear Creek Trail
The longest of all the hiking trails, Bear Creek Trail leads hikers down the canyon, across the fast-flowing Bear Creek, and back up and around the northeast portion of the park. A perilous creek crossing during the wetter months offers an extra bit of excitement!
Cloudland Canyon boasts one of the highest volumes of available campsites for any state park. Campers can choose from tent, trailer or RV sites as well as several walk-in campsites, back country or pioneer camp sites. Most sites offer water and electric hook-ups excluding the back country and pioneer campsites. While the more casual camping sites offer amenities such as a disc golf course, activity center, and bathing center, the back-country and pioneering sites offer an off-the-grid experience for more intrepid campers.
Things to Bring to Cloudland Canyon State Park
When trekking through Cloudland Canyon there are a few must-have items to effectively navigate your stay. Listed below are the necessities List of Parks suggests every visitor brings:
Some of the trails are paved in gravel, however, with the incline and difficulty involved, a sturdy hiking boot is required to safely navigate the rocky canyons. It is also recommended that boots be waterproof as several trails lead hikers through creek beds or across the river at the bottom of the canyon.
DaypackWith no one trail taking more than a few hours to complete, it is great to bring a daypack to afford the ability to travel light. A lighter pack is a necessity when hiking through the rocky outcroppings and steep slopes of these trails.
Most of the park is covered by dense forest and some campsites even involve a hike through the brush to arrive. Bug spray is a must at Cloudland Canyon to ensure that hikers don’t pick up any hitchhikers on their excursions throughout the park.
Whether for leisure or sustenance, take advantage of some of the best fly fishing that Georgia has to offer!
Unknown to many, several geocaching opportunities lie within Cloudland Canyon. Embark on a real-life treasure hunt, but don’t forget the GPS.
Where to Stay At Cloudland Canyon State Park
With over 100 dedicated campsites within the park, there is a campsite for everyone. Whether you prefer the luxury of an RV or an off-grid experience, the park offers a wide variety of camping styles and amenities. There are also formal lodgings and hotels in neighboring Chattanooga if only making a day trip to scenic Cloudland Canyon.
Food Near Cloudland Canyon State Park
There are no restaurants or grocery stores in the immediate vicinity of the park so packing enough food for your stay is imperative. As mentioned before, the park does offer some of the best fishing opportunities in the whole state so there are ways to supplement your food supplies while staying at Cloudland Canyon.
Airports Near Cloudland Canyon State Park
There are three airports that are all within a 20-mile radius of the park to accommodate air travel. These include the Chattanooga, Barwick La Fayette, and Wilson airports respectively.