Cloudland Canyon State Park is located on the ridge that is Lookout Mountain but it is farther southwest than Point Park. It is the closest State Park to where we are staying and a place of great beauty. Last week we went hiking there with our RV Volunteer partner Judy and her dog Sam.
Cloudland Canyon straddles a deep gorge cut into the mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek with an elevation around 1,980 feet at the top and 800 feet at the bottom. The first trail we took was the waterfall trail which had this sign at the top of the trailhead:
The trail looked ominous and it was steep, but it also had handrails and steel steps throughout, so we thought the sign was a little overwrought. Judy had both knees replaced so we took it slow, especially coming up, but she wasn’t the one who had the most trouble. Because the steps were an open steel tread, they started to cut Sam’s paws after a while. We didn’t notice it on the way down, but he was licking them and reluctant to go back up the steps. So Tom carried him. It gave Tom a better workout, because Judy and I were going slow, and Sam was very grateful.
The Waterfall Trail was beautiful and only two miles long so after a lunch break and the very nice picnic area – which we had to ourselves – we headed for the West Rim Trail. We only walked a bit of it but enjoyed the views over the canyon and surrounding countryside.
We hit several other spots connected with the Campaign for Chattanooga before we headed back. We checked out the train station in Bridgeport, Alabama, which was an important staging line for getting supplies to the Union Army in Chattanooga. We walked across the old train trestle as it crossed the Tennessee River and saw a train cross the river beside us. We also saw an interesting memorial to the Confederacy. The words inscribed on it: “This stone placed here as a memorial to the brave men and women who fought to defend their homeland against northern invaders in the War for Southern Independence, poor dirt farmers and homemakers who owned neither slave nor plantation. They fought to preserve the Constitution and defend themselves against an invading army!” A good reminder that there are always at least two sides to any conflict – and both sides think they are right.
We enjoyed Cloudland Canyon and are looking forward to exploring more of the state parks and scenic areas around Chattanooga.