Last June marked the end of a decade’s-long effort to create a fourteen-mile multi-use trail through the heart of the Cumberland Plateau into Georgia’s popular Cloudland Canyon State Park.
The trail — facilitated in large part by a Georgia-based conservation organization called the Lula Lake Land Trust — has come to be known as the Cloudland Connector Trail, and it’s 14-mile path provides easy spur access to more than 60 miles of well maintained hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails.
The Lula Lake Land Trust is the product of a 50-plus year rehabilitation project that began with the acquisition of 80 acres of old mining property on top of Lookout Mountain. The land was initially acquired in the late 1950s by a local conservationist named Robert Davenport. During his lifetime, Davenport ensured that previously clear-cut timber was replanted and that all of the area’s spectacular natural features were preserved to the best of his ability. By the time he died, he had extended his land holdings to as many 1,800 acres, and his will officially hashed out the formation of the Lula Lake Land Trust.
Today the Lula Lake Land Trust preserves more than 8,000 acres in northwest Georgia. In addition to supporting recreation-based initiatives like the Cloud Land Connector Trail, the trust has worked relentlessly to protect the native flora and fauna found within its boundaries. Most notable of the species they’ve worked to save is a federally protected and significantly threatened wild rose known as the Virginia Spiraea.
According to Developmental Director Tricia King, the idea for a trail connecting the Lula Lake Land Trust to Cloudland Canyon State Park was conceived about ten years ago at a routine board meeting.
“When the trail was originally proposed we weren’t 100% certain that we’d actually be able to turn our long-term goal into a reality,” King said. “Fortunately we gained a lot of invaluable support from volunteer groups and private land holders in the area.”
Through a combination of hard work from Lula Lake Land Trust employees, volunteer efforts from groups like the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) and conservation easements agreed upon by nearby landowners, the Cloudland Connector Trail has become a reality, and land that was previously inaccessible is now open for public recreation and enjoyment.
The trail starts about fourteen miles north of Cloudland Canyon State Park and culminates within the park boundaries. A trailhead for its northern terminus can be found on Nick-A-Jack Road, and there are three others —5 Points, Ascalon and Durham—located at different points along its 14-mile course. All of the trailheads afford access to the 20 miles of world-class single track found within the Five Points Recreation Area.
Travel past the border of Cloudland Canyon State Park, and you’ll find a backcountry area with 13 remote campsites as well as one of the most spectacular views—the Cloudland Canyon Vista—that northwest Georgia has to offer.
–Read more of contributor Travis Hall’s work at his website travishallfreelance.wordpress.com.