The Northwest Georgia high country has much to offer, where its history portrays American Indian settlement as well as Civil War landmarks in the diverse landscape with its rolling hills, streams, lakes, and orchards offering many opportunities for activities. outdoor. .
In 1918, when the natural cave entrance to Lookout Mountain was no longer available to the public; Leo Lambert took a bold step in 1928 to reopen Lookout Mountain Cave. His team was to fly in and drill a new entrance from the top; however, after descending 260 feet, they found a small cavity 18 inches high and 5 feet wide that went farther into the mountain. After crawling on his hands and knees for three hours through this small limestone cavity for about 650 feet, Leo was finally able to stand up, 10 hours later, what he found has become one of the most treasured discoveries in the world. southeast. He named this impressive 145-foot waterfall after his wife, Ruby. Visitors to Ruby Falls in Chattanooga will be amazed by the small Living Caverns passage that measures just under half a mile one way, past stalagmites, stalactites, curtain formations and floating stones before reaching the tallest waterfall and deep in the country at 1,120 feet underground.
Just across the state line from Georgia, just a few miles south of Ruby Falls, is the incredible Rock City Gardens, which sits atop Lookout Mountain. The gardens feature over 400 native plant species and huge ancient rock formations that are impressive. The 4,100-foot Enchanted Trail is surrounded by natural geological wonders as it weaves its way over, under, and through rock formations, where getting through the fat man’s squeeze and the needle’s eye is truly a tight squeeze. Crossing the 180-foot-long suspension bridge provides a spectacular view of the Chattanooga Valley, as the trail leaves the bridge and winds around another rock formation that provides a view of Lover’s Leap and a 90-foot waterfall. At the top of Lover’s Leap, you can see the panoramic view of seven states. The Enchanted Trail continues its journey through Mother Goose Village and ends after passing fairyland Caverns.
One of the largest and most scenic parks in the state located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, where nature’s paper has deep water-carved canyons surrounded by breathtaking views of the Cumberland Plateau. Cloudland State Park is home to a 1,000+ foot deep canyon, sandstone cliffs, dense forests, wildlife, cascading streams and waterfalls, where strenuous hiking trails allow you to explore the incredible beauty of this park.
The only easy trail in the park is the short, half-mile, one-way Overlook Trail that traverses the canyon rim where the two overlooks provide stunning views of the craggy canyon, a waterfall on the opposite canyon wall, and dense forest. . Starting at the main trailhead, the strenuous one-mile Waterfalls Trail quickly descends 450 feet down the cliff face where the trail includes 600 metal steps. About halfway up, a left-hand side trial continues to hug the cliff face, where around the bend is the first of two falls. Cherokee Falls sits in a cove of a sandstone cliff that drops 60 feet into a rock-strewn pool where the giant boulders around the pool allow one to get very close. The remaining part of the trail becomes much steeper on your quest to reach the second waterfall where the trail ends at an intersection. The trail to the left leads to an overlook to view Hemlock Falls plunging 90 feet into the boulder-strewn creek. Beginning at the end of Waterfalls Trail, the strenuous two-mile one-way Sitton’s Gulch Trail begins at a tree-lined bridge that crosses Daniel Creek before its gradual 700-foot descent to the canyon floor. The trail meanders creekside through a green spruce forest overlooking numerous small waterfalls and rapids as the water makes its way around limestone boulders. The trail ends at the mouth of the canyon in Trenton, where the last half mile of the trail is an easy hike on level ground.
At the southwestern edge of the Cohutta Mountains, where the Cherokee Indians lived for hundreds of years, now stands Fort Mountain State Park. The parks location near the Cohutta Wilderness offers visitors miles of trails through stream-crossing hardwood forest, cranberry thickets, majestic overlooks, an eerie 855-foot ancient rock face, and a look back at the previous inhabitants.
For the outdoorsman with just one day, the park’s trail system allows multiple trails to be combined for a four-mile loop through the heart of the park. Starting on the north side of the Lake Loop Trail, continue to the Goldmine Creek Trail turnoff, which climbs a ridge to the Gahuti Trail. Follow this trail that gains 500 feet in elevation as it winds over ridges through hardwood forest crossing several streams before joining the Big Rock Nature Trail. The Big Rock Trail hugs the edge of the ridge line gaining 114 feet in elevation before the trail begins a steep descent into a gap past a small waterfall before climbing a small ridge to another waterfall. The trail ends at the park road where you can cross the road to finish the Lake Loop. Located near the highest point of the park is the West Overlook Trail. This half-mile trail gains 200 feet in elevation as it climbs along the Western Ridge line to an observation deck with beautiful views of the ridge and valleys below. Continue up the 102 metal steps to the Tower Trail, which leads back over the old rock face to complete a loop.