Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn, Georgia
Length: 0.4 miles one way
One of the most popular hikes in Cloudland Canyon State Park is likely also the most strenuous. The waterfalls trail travels deep into the bottom of Cloudland Canyon and gives hikers the option to travel to two tall waterfalls dropping 60 and 90 feet.
Hikers get to these falls via a series of staircases straight down into the canyon. Be aware that hiking down to these falls is very easy, it’s the coming back out that gets difficult, regardless of the short distance. If not in at least moderate shape, I suggest avoiding these falls (especially the second falls). If you decide to try the climbs, please do your self a favor and give plenty of time to rest along the walking platforms stationed between the staircases.
Now that you’ve been warned, and decided to continue anyway, you may as well know where to start.
The entrance to these trails begins next to the parking areas by the canyon overlooks. Travel along the rim of the canyon back towards the park entrance. You will quickly pass by a series of cabins that can be rented in the park. Past these cabins, the trail will begin to descend down several series of metal stairs.
In case you are counting, there are 179 stairs before you reach the intersection of the waterfalls. This is where you must decide which falls to see first. I suggest going with the upper falls first, it is ultimately the shorter trail, and if you find you are too tired after coming up from it, then you have saved yourself a much more painful trip up the longer, lower second water fall.
Just before you reach the waterfalls intersection you will see this nice little resting spot under a huge rock. You may be thinking, who needs to rest this is easy, but you’ll love this bench on the return trip.
The First Waterfall is a short 0.1 miles from the falls intersection. The stair case down provides several views of Daniels Creek, and the boulders that sit along its banks. From the bottom of the staircase, visitors can cross the rocks and walk right up to the edge of the pool at the base of the falls. Several signs indicate that wading and swimming in the pool is illegal, and never try to get close to a falls of this size as unseen undertows can cause drownings.
Once enjoying the view, get ready for the first hike up the stairs. Once at the top, turn left if you want to see the taller of the two falls.
The lower water fall is located 0.3 miles from the intersection. That’s 379 stairs, but whose counting? This trail hugs the canyon wall for some time before beginning to quickly descend to the falls. Watch out for the mud along the trail, the moisture on this part of the trail rarely dries out.
The stair cases on this trail provide several great views of the canyon from as close to the bottom as a view can be gotten.
Take advantage of the platforms going down and take in the canyon in its entirety. As you continue down the long trail, the base of the canyon appears in sight. Additionally, there is a new walkway that crosses Daniels Creek, latter becoming Sitton Gulch Creek and intersects with Sitton Gulch Trail, a newer trail in Cloudland Canyon that is a 6.5 mile loop.
Once you reach the bottom, the trail requires just a little bit farther walk along the ridge of Cloudland Canyon.
Hikers will finally reach the platform for viewing the falls. The Lower falls differs from the upper falls in that hikers cannot approach the pool below the falls.
After viewing the falls, be sure to stop and take a look at canyon from its base one last time. If not, you may not remember its beauty after the long hike.
Look up from the stairs, take a deep breath, and take your time climbing back up. After the first 400, take a long break under that big rock I mentioned earlier, and take solace in knowing that there are less than 200 steps back to your vehicle.
When you get to the top, enjoy the view of all that you have hiked from the overlooks again.
$3.00 Per Vehicle
Sitton Gulch Trail -6.5 mile loop
West Rim Loop Trail – 4.8 miles
Backcountry Loop Trail – 2.0 mile
Nearby Disc Golf
From Trenton, GA:
1. Take GA -136 east for 8 miles. Entrance will be on the left.
2. From LaFayette, GA take GA-136 18 miles. Entrance on the right.