The fresh air, the crunch of leaves and sticks with each step and that feeling of being immersed in nature; there is nothing quite like venturing into the woods and detaching from a hectic lifestyle. While I am not known as an “outdoorsy” type, I have always enjoyed hiking and the peace that comes with getting away from it all. When my kids asked to take a family camping trip, I agreed, and we found the perfect location for a beginner like me.
Two hours north of Atlanta, GA and just thirty minutes south of Chattanooga, TN lies Cloudland Canyon State Park. Located on Lookout Mountain, this Georgia State Park offers scenic views, numerous recreational activities and well-maintained facilities. Whatever your camping style is, this park can offer it. Choose from comfortable yurts, a spacious RV hook up area, walk-in tent sites, rustic cottages or pioneer camping (for those who like to rough it). On-site activities include fishing from a stocked lake, mountain biking, geocaching and several hiking trails.
The allure of nearby bathrooms and hot showers was just too tempting so we chose a walk-in tent site. We were pleased to find the space large enough to accommodate a family of 6 (with a dog) and that each included a fire pit/grill and a picnic table. The kids spent their time at Cloudland Canyon investigating every rock, digging in the dirt, roasting marshmallows and telling stories by the fire. Admittedly, I struggled to forgo my helicopter parent tendencies and to just let the kids be. It reinforced, however, just how beneficial it is to give them some space. They made up songs, pretended to be explorers and, most surprisingly, never asked for technology. Camping at Cloudland Canyon State Park was such a great experience for our family. We are planning another trip in the spring!
Hiking: Connected to the walk-in tent site is the main trail head for the West Rim Loop Trail. This five mile trail is quite challenging for young children (our 2 year old was carried in a backpack) but you will be rewarded with beautiful overlooks of the canyon as well as an exciting trek over roots, huge boulders and swollen creeks. It’s also pet friendly!