Cloudland Canyon

Two weeks ago, Dixie and I headed for the mountains to hike some trails. We started out early and packed all of the essentials…water, protein bars, a collapsible dog bowl, the camera, and a walking stick. Then we headed off to Cloudland Canyon State Park, just a girl and her dog hitting the rugged trails.

There is nothing I like better than exploring, especially exploring the wilderness. And there is no better place to live than Georgia for a girl who likes to explore. I know I’m a little biased having been a Georgia girl my entire life, but I must say we have some of the best state parks in the country. Well, I haven’t really been everywhere, but they’re the best I’ve seen yet. All the trails I have hiked so far have been clear cut, well marked, and have extraordinary views, and the parks are clean and the DNR rangers and staff are helpful and nice. Of course, I could go on and on singing the praises of our parks, but I’ll save that for other blogs of my amazing hiking adventures. For now, I’ll just sing the praises of Cloudland Canyon.

Dixie and I arrived at around 11 that beautiful Sunday of July 6, and we were greeted with an amazing view.

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Our first hiking venture took us to some lovely waterfalls down in the canyon. Dixie was not a fan of the grated steps leading down into the canyon as they felt a little weird on her feet; however, she was a great fan of all the people we met along the way who gave her lots of attention.

The trail down into the canyon had some of the most amazing rock formations. I couldn’t help but think that, if my daughter had been there, she would have insisted that they were minecraft rocks. There were many that had such perfectly rectangular edges. They looked as if they were carved or as if someone had made a massive stone wall, stone by stone.

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And in other places the stone was smooth and round, like this massive boulder we passed under…

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We could hear water dripping or rushing all around us for the entirety of our walk along the waterfall trails.

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And it was a bit wet, slippery, and muddy in a few places, so my hiking boots were a great footwear choice.

Thankfully, we managed, by a random decision to take the righthand path first, to descend the harder trail to the Hemlock Waterfall. It was well worth the trip as we came upon a breathtaking view of a small waterfall descending straight down into a rocky pool with a large boulder.

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I managed to capture a lovely photo of the bottom of the fall after securing Dixie’s leash to one of the railings (she wiggles a bit much when I’m trying to get photos).

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The pirate in me managed to find the “x marks the spot”. I wonder if there was any buried treasure in that stream…

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After exploring a bit more, consuming water and protein bars, and taking a few more photos, Dixie and I trudged back up out of the canyon. Then we took the lefthand path to the Cherokee waterfall. It was a much easier trail, but the waterfall was just as beautiful. This one cascaded down into a green pool surrounded by the canyon walls. I would have loved to have a house right next to it. It was so secluded and beautiful. The temperature down near the falls was much cooler as well. It was perfect for a hot summer day.

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We stayed here and enjoyed the view for quite some time (along with many other people who were camped out on blankets or hammocks or just lounging on the rocks). Then we headed up and back to the car for a quick break and to restock our backpack before attempting the West Rim Loop trail.

Well, the West Rim Loop is a four mile trail around the rim of the canyon, and I must say, four miles on mountain trails is nothing like four miles in my neighborhood.  Thankfully, I thought to take my hiking stick with me. It proved useful for most of the trip for balance on the steep parts. My knees thank me, I’m sure.

It wasn’t too far into the hike before we reached an outcrop with a beautiful view.

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The rocks up here were very interesting. One in particular reminded me of one of those cartoon eagles blasting off into the sky.

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Or maybe I just have a good imagination.

We walked around on top of the rocks, and there were cracks between them with long drops to the ground below. Yet, even in this rocky terrain, little trees and bushes still manage to take root.

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After stopping here for quite some time, we took off to finish the rest of the trail. I took a few more photos, but eventually the light began to grow dim in the more dense parts of the wilderness. The trail began to seem as if it would never end, and I couldn’t hear the water anymore. I began to get a little nervous, as it was getting late. The trail was quite long, and I hadn’t seen anyone in a little while. In time, however, I reached the bridge where I started the loop and was back to familiar territory. Dixie and I were both getting quite tired by that point, and I was beginning to stumble over roots.

Speaking of roots, I took a photo of these snaky roots before I began getting tired and clumsy…

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Oh, and a cloud, and some vegetation, and the canyon wall across from where I was…

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And in the end, Dixie and I made it out of the wilderness tired but happy. All in all, we hiked over 7 1/2 miles of trails. It made for a full, well-spent day. And we can’t wait till our next adventure.