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Waterfalls Trails

by JP on Apr.23, 2009, under Georgia Hiking Trails

Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn, Georgia

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Difficulty: Strenuous

Length: 0.4 miles one way

One of the most popular hikes in Cloudland Canyon State Park is likely also the most strenuous. The waterfalls trail travels deep into the bottom of Cloudland Canyon and gives hikers the option to travel to two tall waterfalls dropping 60 and 90 feet.

Hikers get to these falls via a series of staircases straight down into the canyon. Be aware that hiking down to these falls is very easy, it’s the coming back out that gets difficult, regardless of the short distance. If not in at least moderate shape, I suggest avoiding these falls (especially the second falls). If you decide to try the climbs, please do your self a favor and give plenty of time to rest along the walking platforms stationed between the staircases.


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Now that you’ve been warned, and decided to continue anyway, you may as well know where to start.

The entrance to these trails begins next to the parking areas by the canyon overlooks. Travel along the rim of the canyon back towards the park entrance. You will quickly pass by a series of cabins that can be rented in the park. Past these cabins, the trail will begin to descend down several series of metal stairs.

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In case you are counting, there are 179 stairs before you reach the intersection of the waterfalls. This is where you must decide which falls to see first. I suggest going with the upper falls first, it is ultimately the shorter trail, and if you find you are too tired after coming up from it, then you have saved yourself a much more painful trip up the longer, lower second water fall.

Just before you reach the waterfalls intersection you will see this nice little resting spot under a huge rock. You may be thinking, who needs to rest this is easy, but you’ll love this bench on the return trip.

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Upper Waterfall

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The First Waterfall is a short 0.1 miles from the falls intersection. The stair case down provides several views of Daniels Creek, and the boulders that sit along its banks. From the bottom of the staircase, visitors can cross the rocks and walk right up to the edge of the pool at the base of the falls. Several signs indicate that wading and swimming in the pool is illegal, and never try to get close to a falls of this size as unseen undertows can cause drownings.

Cloudland Canyon 150 Stitch

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Once enjoying the view, get ready for the first hike up the stairs. Once at the top, turn left if you want to see the taller of the two falls.

Lower Falls

The lower water fall is located 0.3 miles from the intersection. That’s 379 stairs, but whose counting? This trail hugs the canyon wall for some time before beginning to quickly descend to the falls. Watch out for the mud along the trail, the moisture on this part of the trail rarely dries out.

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The stair cases on this trail provide several great views of the canyon from as close to the bottom as a view can be gotten.

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Take advantage of the platforms going down and take in the canyon in its entirety. As you continue down the long trail, the base of the canyon appears in sight. Additionally, there is a new walkway that crosses Daniels Creek, latter becoming Sitton Gulch Creek and intersects with Sitton Gulch Trail, a newer trail in Cloudland Canyon  that is a 6.5 mile loop.

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Once you reach the bottom, the trail requires just a little bit farther walk along the ridge of Cloudland Canyon.

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Hikers will finally reach the platform for viewing the falls. The Lower falls differs from the upper falls in that hikers cannot approach the pool below the falls.

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After viewing the falls, be sure to stop and take a look at canyon from its base one last time. If not, you may not remember its beauty after the long hike.

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Look up from the stairs, take a deep breath, and take your time climbing back up. After the first 400, take a long break under that big rock I mentioned earlier, and take solace in knowing that there are less than 200 steps back to your vehicle.

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When you get to the top, enjoy the view of all that you have hiked from the overlooks again.

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Fees

$3.00 Per Vehicle

Nearby Trails

Sitton Gulch Trail -6.5 mile loop

West Rim Loop Trail – 4.8 miles

Backcountry Loop Trail – 2.0 mile

Nearby Disc Golf

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Course

Directions:

From Trenton, GA:

1. Take GA -136 east for 8 miles. Entrance will be on the left.

2. From LaFayette, GA take GA-136 18 miles. Entrance on the right.

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Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

by JP on Apr.21, 2009, under Georgia Disc Golf

Rising Fawn, GA

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Cloudland Canyon’s 18 hole disc golf course is a well established, very popular course that begins on top of one of the highest points in the established portions of the park. As such, the winds can get pretty strong up on the mountain, and throwing a long drive even a little too high can carry a disc to two or three holes later (trust me it happened to someone I was playing with).

The course winds up and down several hills, and actually provides a pretty good workout due to the walking distance and hills required to play the entire course. Each hole is easy to find, and is very well marked with a signpost and concrete tee pad.

Also, players should know that this course can be pretty busy. I played here on Easter Sunday, and had groups playing in front of me and behind me the entire time.

Before playing, stop by the visitor center for a score sheet, course map (not needed, but grab one anyway), and if you need a new disc, the visitor center carries tons of  Innova brand discs for purchase.


Hole 1

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

The first hole gets the disc rolling with a long 347 ft. long drive. Be aware of the big antennae sticking up in the middle of the hole.

Hole 2, 3 & 4

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Holes 2,3 & 4 are all very similar in their design. Hole 2 begins at the bottom of a hill, and requires a drive around a series of trees and shurbs sitting along the ridge. Hole 3 begins atop that same hill and requires a shot over those same tree and shrubs heading back to the base of the hill. Finally, hole 4 heads back through the shrubs and trees to the top of the hill. Hole 4 is probably the toughest  of these three because the catcher is located directly behind the very large growth.

All three of these holes require very good control over one’s drive. If not, you may find yourself climbing into a tree, or a thorn bush to fish out your driver.

Hole 5

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 5 is the first hole that begins moving down the side of the mountain. This is a long straight drive, but be aware of the wind on a drive. One of the players I was playing with, threw what must be considered a record distance drive. Unfortunately, the wind was carrying it down the hillside so far to the right, that he ended up directly to the right of the hole, but farther away than where he started.

Hole 6

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 6 is a fairly easy shot to the edge of the woods. The only problem, one big cedar trip sits right in the middle of the fairway. Throw long, and put a little curve on it, and this should be an easy two shot hole.

Hole 7

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 7 requires a sharp hook to the left. The hard part about this particular hole is that no only must the disc bend back towards you, but it must do so after squeezing through a small opening in the woods.

Hole 8

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hike back up the  hill towards the road, and the tee for hole 8 is going to require another sharp bend to the left, only this time, the distance is longer and the space is slightly wider, if you can get past the narrow opening just in front of the tee. Lefties are bound for trouble on this hole.

Hole 9

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 9 is the first simple straight shot in a few holes. It’s fairly simplistic, just stay out of the woods, once you get in them, it’s hard to get out.

Hole 10

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Hole 10 looks like another long easy shot, but don’t be fooled, the uphill on this hole can cause for some bad drives. Don’t be fooled by the uphill and end up throwing to high, but be sure not to throw your disc into the side of the hill be throwing to low either. Find the happy median, but error on the low side.

Hole 11

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 11 is another long drive from the top of the hill. If you can catch a good wind, you may be able to really get a good drive on this hole, catch a bad wind, and you may end up being buried into the ground. Also, watch out of the shrubbery in the middle of the course.

Hole 12

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 12 would be an easy hole if not for the fact that the catcher is hidden between three trees. Only a well timed bend to the right will put you close to the catcher. I suggest laying up as close to the catcher as you can get.

Hole 13

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 13 is a 301 ft. drive up hill. This is a fairly steep uphill, so be aware of your drive.

Hole 14

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 14  sits parallel to the road that enters the disc golf course. The catcher is located between a number of pine trees at the road’s intersection. Drive straight and narrow and you’ll sit nicely beside the catcher. Even if you hit a tree, you are still close enough to two-shot this hole for a birdie.

Hole 15, 16, & 17

Hole 15, 16, & 17 are holes where frustration and irritation may begin to crop up. All three of these holes are located in deep woods, and require a lot of precision just to par these holes.

Hole 15 -

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 16 -

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 17

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf

Hole 18

Cloudland Canyon Disc Golf Hole 18 finishes up the course back on the hill where the course began. This shot requires a shot over small hill back onto the tree line. It’s a fairly easy shot, but try to make sure you keep the drive straight. If you end up in the woods away from the catcher, it will be difficult to get a good second shot at the catcher.

Fees:

$3.00 per vehicle entry

$2.00 per person disc golf fee

Directions:

From Trenton, GA:

1. Take GA -136 east for 8 miles. Entrance will be on the left.

2. From LaFayette, GA take GA-136 18 miles. Entrance on the right.

3. After entering Cloudland Canyon State Park, follow the signs straight to the disc golf course. The road to the course is found just to the right of the parking area for the main canyon hiking trails. Park between the Old Pool House and Tennis Courts, and the first hole is found on the other side of the Old Pool House.

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The Tamiami Trail – Everglades, Miccosukee, and the Big Cypress National Preserve

by JP on Apr.19, 2009, under Florida Outdoor Travel

Tamiamia Trail (US Hwy. 41), Homestead to Everglades City, Florida

Tamiami Trail

When departing from Miami or the Florida Keys, and traveling back North, I must recommend taking Highway 41, also known as Tamiami Trail to at least Naples. This 247 mile drive was one of many great recommendations made to me on my road trip around the Florida coastlines  by Kevin Mims over at WahooHiker. I need to thank Kevin for lots of great advice on outdoor travel while visiting Florida. For some great information and videos on Florida Travel head over to his site .

Airboat Rides:

Airboat

When beginning this drive, one of the first things you will notice are a number of airboat tour companies along the side of the road. These are a lot of fun, and a great way to see the landscape of the Everglades. The company I went through gave us about a 25 minute airboat ride, which does not really go deep into the Everglades, but did give us the opportunity to see a number of alligator (most were around 3-4 feet or so), different species of turtles, and a number of the larger birds in the Everglades, including several egrets, herons, a Purple Gallinule. I am not a bird watcher normally, but some of these massive birds were fun to see flying just a head of the airboat.Airboat

Airboat Tour Airboat Tour

Purple Gallinule Airboat Ride

The airboats also provide some excite for speed junkies. When they hit open water, our driver began power sliding across the water for some extra fun.

Airboat Ride Airboat Ride

After returning from the Airboat ride, our park admission included an alligator wrestling demonstration. This was entertaining, but in some ways slightly depressing that these alligators were kept in captivity for the duration of their lives. The alligator in our show was never harmed, or really even wrestled. The demonstration consisted of the very typecast alligator wrestler putting his hands in the gator’s mouth, and then jerking away when he’d evoke the gator’s quick mouth snap. Afterwards, visitors are given an opportunity to hold and have a picture with a smaller alligator.

Alligator Wrestling at Airboat Tour

The ride and show was $21 each, and something to do once in a lifetime, but probably not worth repeating. Also, I took some issue with the fact that a site that makes a profit off of nature (which I am okay with), also sells souvenir alligator body parts. My sincere hope is that these parts are from alligators that have deceased from natural reasons, rather than for the harvesting of souvenirs.

Everglades Airboat

Miccosukee Indian Village

Continuing west, the number of airboat operators will begin to decline, and you will enter into the Miccosukee India Reservation, and an Indian Village can be seen along the Highway.

Miccosukee

Better than Alligator Alley, the Tamiami Trail

Tamiami Trail

While a faster alternative route across the souther part of the state on I-75, which has been labelled as alligator alley, the Tamiami Trail is a much more realistic alligator alley as the road is one lane each way, and has no high fences to be prevent the viewing and/or crossing of wildlife along the roadside.

One of the treats of Tamiami Trail is that a small river runs parallel to the road for almost the entire distance to Naples. Westbound passengers can easily spot a hundred or more alligators on the trip along the Everglades Northern border. The picture of the alligator at the top of this page, was just laying out along the banks of the highway.  Along the trail there are a number of places one can pull off and get some pictures. While several wildlife viewing centers and campgrounds randomly dot the highway.

Bahia Honda State Park (175)

For the best chance at seeing a gator, look along the river bank opposite of the highway underneath areas where there is a combination of limbs overhanging the river, and rocks embedded in the bank. The alligators like the warmth of the rocks, and spend almost as much time sunbathing as the residents of Miami.

Oasis Visitor

Ochopee, Florida

Smallet Post Office

While one is driving down the Tamiami, they may as well stop over and see the United States’ smallest post office in Ochopee. Located just over 60 miles west of Miami, the tiny 7-foot by 8-foot building is just one of the many quaint spots along the Trail. After a fire that burned the original post office, this former irrigation pipe shed began serving a three county area, and serves as the nearest post office until Everglades City.

Two National Preserves - Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve

One may not know it, but traveling down the Tamiami trail actually brings visitors along to areas set aside for national preservations. At many parts, the highway serves as the northern border of the well known Everglades National Park, but one may not realize is that the highways also serves as the southern border of the Big Cypress National Preserver.

Everglades:

Along Highway 41, visitors can find two park entrances to the Everglades off of Tamiami. The first you will arrive at is the Shark Valley Visitor Center. At the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Shark Valley offers visitor’s two hiking trails along the boardwalks, but it’s main attraction is the Tram Road observation tower.

The other park entrance, the Gulf Coast Visitors’ Center can be found near Everglades City. The Gulf Coast Visitors’ area provides entry to Ten Thousand Islands, and the Wilderness Waterway Trail, a 99 mile boating trail through mangrove-lined creeks.  No hiking trails are available here.

Big Cypress National Preserve

On the other side of the road is the other South Florida National Preserve. The Big Cypress National Preserve is a large Cypress Swamp to the North of Tamiami Trail. The main visitors’ center, Oasis Visitor Center can be found approximately 50 miles from Miami and Naples, and contains exhibits on wildlife in the area, as well as an observation deck to see several large alligators that are likely to be sunbathing below it.

Interestingly, the visitor center also offers parking for off road vehicles and airboats. The center is open until 4:30 daily.

Naples:

By the time you finish this long drive, you may be ready for some time at the beach. Naples is a great place to grab a bite to eat, and hang out at the beach after the drive. More on Naples later!

Naples, FL Naples, FL

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Tocobaga Disc Golf Course

by JP on Apr.15, 2009, under Florida Disc Golf

St. Petersburg, Florida – Maximo Park

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The Tocobaga 18 hole disc golf course located in Maximo Park. Maximo is a recreational park, beach, & archaeological  site where the Tocobaga Native Americans had previously built Indian mounds. The mounds are essentially gone from sight, as you will not know you are own them while playing, but a beautiful park remains in its place. The park contains a beach along Boca Ciega Bay, as well as views of the Gulf of Mexico from the 50 ft. observation tower.

The disc golf course spreads wide across the majority of the park’s 47 acres, taking golfers through Australian Pines, across long grassy fields, and occasionally into some palm groves.

The course is extremely well marked and laid, and there is no need for a course map. Each hole contains two tee pads (pro and amateur), allowing for all skill levels to play together.
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Finding the course is easy, as signs pointing visitors to the course are apparent upon entrance into the park. The first hole is just past the sign above. Each hole is marked with a clear hole map, and numbers indicating distances to the catchers.

Hole 1

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The first hole is a 305 feet drive between some palm groves and the road.

Hole 2

018 Hole 2 requires a long straight drive over two very large sets of shrubbery. You don’t want to get caught in the thicket, fishing a disc out is a pain (my wife landed in them, not me). If you can’t drive the distance, I suggest laying up before them, and shooting a 2nd shot over them. It’s a 250 ft. drive from the pro tee.

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Hole 3

025 Follow the signs to Hole 3 to the right, and you will see that it sets on the edge of the road. Do not be confused by the colors on the Tee marker (the bright yellow is does not actually indicate the road, but the ground surrounding the catcher, while the bright green is not the actual putting green). The catch remains on the same side of the road, and requires a slight throw to the right.

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Hole 4

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Cross the street from basket 3, and the 4th Tee Pad will sit near the edge of the road. Hole 4 requires a precise shot into the forest, and around the trees.

Hole 5

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Hole 5 is another course through the trees. The basket is a straight shot if you can make it through the trees. I recommend hooking around the trees by shooting to the left, and allow it to drop behind them.

Hole 6

Hole 6 is a difficult catcher to find. From the Tee. the course loops around to the left, between the tree line and the interstate.

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Hole 7

066 Hole 7 is across the street at the entrance, and is a narrow shot through a number of shrubs and trees. Watch where you disc lands because it gets hard to find if you don’t land in the fairway.

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Hole 8

Hole 8 is a long drive between a large grove of trees. Stay out of the patch of trees in the middle, and the catcher sits along a concrete barrier at the back edge of the park.

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Hole 9

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Is a long drive to the right of the tee.

Hole 10

Another Long, somewhat open tee shot, just watch the trees in the fairway.

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Hole 11

Hole 11 requires the drive to be released very low so as to avoid hitting the limbs right in front of the tee.

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Hole 12

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Hole 12 requires a fairly tight shot through a number of trees and brush.

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Hole 13

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Hole 13 requires a drive over two roads, and arcs back to the left from the tee.

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Hole 14

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Hole 15

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Hole 16

Hole 16 is likely the toughest hole on the course. It is very narrow, and completely surrounded by trees.

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Hole 17

Hole 17 is another wooded hole that requires a shot around several large trees. (I call for bonus points if you land on the wooden bridge like I did.)

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Hole 18

Hole 18 is a long drive beginning in a narrow wooded area, but opening up near the bay.

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Directions:

1. From I-275 to Pinellas Point Drive and 34th Street.

2. Maxmo Park will be directly in front of the intersection of Pinellas and 34th.

3. Follow the signs in the park to Hole 1.

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New Look, New Direction

by JP on Apr.14, 2009, under Hiking Trails

Those of you visiting today, have likely already noticed the new look. In case you have not, SouthernHiker.com has picked up a new look, that I believe will prove easier to navigate, and easier to read. These changes include a drop down navigation bar at the top, as well as SouthernHiker’s recent posts and store on the right.

This new look is also being launched to signify SouthernHiker.com’s change in its scope.

In addition to continuing to provide you with detailed trip reports from the South’s hiking trails, camp sites, disc golf courses, and the like, Southern Hiker is expanding to include other outdoor Southern travel adventures & opportunities that may not fit directly within the realm of your typical hiking blog.

Don’t worry! You won’t see any shopping malls or hotels that are wholly indoor experiences on SouthernHiker.  Not that there is anything wrong with those, they simply are beyond the purview of the outdoors.

What you will be finding is more information about the State Parks in the area, more information on outdoor festivals, and a number of other quintessential Southern experiences going on week in and week out.

My hope is that this small change will be more helpful to those traveling and living in the South who just can’t decide what do on any given week and weekend.

Please feel free to comment on the new look, the new direction, or anything else you would like.  If you the readers don’t like it, I want to be your conduit to Southern Travel, and will happily return to the prior format.

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