A few weeks ago, I set out to enjoy a trail in a different way, a much slower way. I found the perfect pair of secondhand hiking boots that I initially bought for muddy cross races or if the prospect of trail work ever presented itself, but instead, they inspired me to actually go on a hike.
One of my friends, Madolyn, is a much better hiker than I am so she was stoked when I suggested we head to North Georgia to hike Cloudland Canyon.
While mountain biking will always be my first love, unless you make a point to slow down to enjoy the scenery, you can miss a lot of it. It was nice to take a slower approach to the woods, for once. I also severely underestimated how hard hiking is. We decided to do the West Rim Trail, a 5 mile “moderately strenuous” lollipop-loop.
This trail goes all down through the canyon, giving amazing views of the distant mountains and rocky interior. The beginning and end of the hike are definitely the most technically challenging, hiking over lots of large rocks and roots.
Definitely the best part of the day was when we decided to take some time out for geocaching. I downloaded the iPhone app a long time ago for 10 dang dollars and, although I typically forget to use it, it’s definitely worth the money for the hour or two that I use it. We found a micro cache hidden under a tree and, while we were rummaging through, were joined by a quirky fellow hiker. He told us all about some folklore about a goat who explores the canyon named “Ol Lonesome” and assured us to not be scared if we came across him. Unfortunately, we never came across Ol Lonesome. Instead, we developed our own folklore that that hiker transforms into Ol Lonesome by night and made up a bunch of stories about his adventures. Hey, gotta pass the time somehow!
If you’re looking for a solid day in the woods without having to fully commit to a full day in the woods, Cloudland Canyon is for you! It offers a fun backcountry feel, while still offering the glamours of highly-maintained trails.