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FATMAP difficulty grade
Located in the far northwest corner of Georgia lies one of the state's best-kept secrets: Cloudland Canyon State Park.
Situated slightly west of Lookout Mountain, this 3,500-acre state park is a quick drive from Chattanooga and a perfect day trip from Atlanta. Begin your run at the parking area slightly beyond the East Rim Campground.
You can find restrooms, drinking water, and a multitude of picnic areas nearby. The trail begins by skirting its way south along the east rim as it meanders through picturesque flora.
Quickly ahead, a trail intersection leads to the parks two pristine waterfalls, an excellent addition to any run.
Typically, one would want to save the side trip for the end to ensure they have adequate energy after completing the West Rim Trail. Ahead, the West Rim Trail reaches an intersection where one has the option to complete a loop in either direction.
Most would choose clockwise. Passing through sandy and rocky terrain, the trail crosses a paved road that doubles as an alternative trailhead to access some quick views by car.
At the northernmost point of the route, runners are welcomed with a phenomenal overlook to the north, the first of many.
Following along the rim of the canyon, the trail provides countless vistas, including some that rival those of the nearby Appalachian Mountains, and maybe even the canyonlands of Utah. The return trip offers even more views from the canyon rim, sometimes accessible via a side trail.
Though the overlooks are partially fenced, the platforms are often several hundred feet to the base of the canyon and should be approached with caution. The southernmost views from the rim are arguably the best, as one can look directly across the canyon to the trailhead where you began.