Cloudland Canyon State Park

March 08, 2015  •  6 Comments

I was planning on resting up this weekend after the brutal hike to Virgin Falls last weekend, but did someone mention a hike?  So here I am again, wondering what I've gotten myself into.  The decision was to meet in Cloudland Canyon State Park and do the Waterfall Trail.  This park is located south of Chattanooga just across the border in Georgia, on Lookout Mountain.  

I left Oak Ridge at 6:00am for the two hour drive.  As the morning progressed and my travels took me further south, the temperature continued to climb.  The sky was clear and vacant of clouds, not the best for waterfall photography, but I was assured the waterfalls were in the canyon and should be okay.

After meeting up with the others, we headed down into the canyon.  I had stopped at the visitor center on my way in, where they informed me there were 627 metal stairs to climb (yes, one way).  Now I'm not saying I wasn't up for it, but it did weigh on my mind.  We hiked down a considerable number of those stairs and headed towards Cherokee Falls.  Walking alongside the river was pleasant and peaceful.  How come all these waterfalls are just around a corner?  Seems like every waterfall is around a bend of sorts.  Cherokee Falls is no different and is just impressive as all the others when seeing it for the first time, heck anytime.  

Cherokee FallsOlympus E-M1: Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8: ISO: 100 2sec @ f/22.0

Located in Dade County, Georgia, Cherokee Falls is a 60' plunge type waterfall.  The pool is a nice bluish green color surrounded on three sides by steep vertical walls with the runoff forming Daniel Creek and continues flowing into the canyon.  Boulders form a line at the water's edge from where most photo opportunities exist and while yet very slippery due to the morning ice, it made for the creation of spectacular images.

Cherokee FallsOlympus E-M1: Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8: ISO: 100 1sec @ f/16.0 Cherokee FallsOlympus E-M1: Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8: ISO: 100 3.2sec @ f/22.0

We departed Cherokee Falls and headed towards Hemlock Falls.  After a short hike, down more stairs we found the entire walkway to be covered in a sheet of ice.  A few hearty (crazy) souls decided to pursue their goal, others (myself included) made the decision to stay behind and live to fight another day.  We made our way back up to the top and waited for the others to return.  We did find out from a group of passing Scouts that there is a road at the bottom where you can park a car and ferry people back up to the trailhead.  Hmmm, nothing was said about that in the visitor center.  It took around 90 minutes before they appeared and we found out more than one of them took a spill due to the conditions.  They also informed us they couldn't get to a satisfactory vantage point because of the brush and or river.

Cherokee FallsOlympus E-M1: Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8: ISO: 100 4sec @ f/22.0

I have included several pictures of Cherokee Falls from various locations so you get an idea of the area surrounding the waterfall. Oh yea, the stairs.

Stairway to He...Apple iPhone 6 plus: Apple 4.15mm f/2.2: ISO: 50 1/120 @ f/2.2


eldon & bonny(non-registered)
Another winner!! What you go through to get there is another story!
Jesse Wichert(non-registered)
Cant wait to get a chance to shoot this place ! Great pics John..
-DJ Greer(non-registered)
Wonderful job John.
Keith Gundy(non-registered)
Lovely photos once again, John.
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