Hike the West Rim Trail to Cherokee Falls

West Rim Loop Trailhead

This easily accessible park just south of Chattanooga, TN has some of the best fall hiking in Georgia. There are 2 gorgeous 60+ foot waterfalls within half a mile of each other.

Good luck finding something you dislike about Cloudland Canyon State Park - one of Georgia's largest and most scenic parks. Sitting on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, it is home to a plethora of luscious trails, easily-accessible campgrounds or yurts, and flowing waterfalls.

The West Rim Loop Trail offers the most epic views from the upper canyon and connects you to a handful of other trails. There are many points to hop onto this trail and it is extremely well-marked, so I suggest you head south on the trail no matter where you join it. The first few miles are full of mud, trees, and beautiful greenery, until the trail opens up onto boulders and a vast overlook of the canyon. The trail continues along the canyon wall and, even from these heights, the roar of the waterfalls below can be heard. Over the course of the entire loop, you will encounter just under 2,000 feet of total elevation gain.

You will soon approach the Waterfalls trail. It clings to the rock wall, passing several interesting formations before turning into grated metal staircases. At the junction for the two falls, go left to Cherokee Falls - a particularly beautiful, 60ft waterfall into a large pool partly surrounded by an arcing rocks wall. From Cherokee Falls, you can hike back up to the intersection then head to waterfall #2 (Hemlock Falls) or head back to the West Rim Trail. It’s all uphill to get back to the West Rim Loop trail, but levels out once you hit it.

I suggest you head into this park with a full day, as we did not even make a dent in the 4 hours we were there. But that is never a bad problem to have, is it? Lastly, if home is north of the park, cruise through Chattanooga's Flying Squirrel or Terminal Brewhouse for a drink and grub post-hike.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sweatshirt if hiking in the fall
  • Trail shoes
  • Camera
  • Cash for $5 parking fee
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RT Distance 5.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1945 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Running, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Waterfall trail

Amazing! The Cherokee falls was beautifull. A TON of stairs so make sure your pooch has healthy hips if they are coming along. Amazing hike.

Spectacular views for an easy hike

The West Rim loop trail is really fairly easy in terms of distance and elevation gain. The hike down to Cherokee falls certainly requires quite the climb down and up, but is technically part of the Waterfalls/Sitton's Gulch trails. Regardless of those insignificant details, the West Rim Loop trail is an awesome trail that can be done in about 2 hours. The lookout points from the rim are simply incredible, with panoramic views of the massive cliffs of the canyon walls. The interior of the loop is a bit less interesting and views are contained within the hemlock forest. Fall is the best time of year for this hike due to the leaves and weather.

Love The Views

Here, you get both canyon and several waterfalls. I definitely agree that this is a day hike. I like to bring lunch and snacks and plenty of water. There are several boulders to chill on with great views. And if you want even more hiking, I really enjoy the Sittons Gulch trail that departs from the waterfall trail.


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