Cloudland Canyon's waterfalls come alive during winter rains

Rainy season creates stunning views

I've visited Georgia's Cloudland Canyon State Park since I was a child, but these stops always corresponded with the summer dry season — when only a trickle of water fell over the waterfalls at the bottom of the deep chasm.

So I didn't hesitate to make an impromptu trip earlier this month while 80 miles away after covering the 2020 Bassmaster Classic. I simply woke up early and added the stop to my drive home.

I could hear the water roaring when I stepped out of my truck atop the mountain. I quickly grabbed my gear and bounded down the 600 steps to the bottom of the gorge.

And I was blown away by what I found.

Daniel Creek, the main waterway through Cloudland Canyon was filled with water. A short walk from the steps around a corner revealed Cherokee Falls, which was pouring water.

I first spent a few minutes admiring the gorgeous waterfall that filled a basin with clear, emerald water. The scene was jaw-dropping.

Shaking myself out of this reverie, I set up my tripod so a set of boulders could serve as a strong foreground object, and captured the beautiful waterfall photo at the top of this page.

On to Hemlock Falls

Hemlock Falls

Hemlock Falls was next up on the list. It is the second named waterfall on Daniel Creek, and it was as beautiful as Cherokee Falls. The water gushing over the ledge created streamers of water against the grey limestone cliff.

For this image, I chose to use two huge boulders in the foreground. These massive rocks lead the eye straight to the center of the image to the waterfall in the background and the gurgling rapids below the falls.

Use of a polarizing filter cut the glare from the water below the in the bottom of the frame, allowing viewers to see the rocks over which Daniel Creek flows.

One more waterfall

Unnamed waterfall on Daniel Creek

Not all waterfalls are named, but even the unnamed tumbles of water can be captivating. That's exactly the case of a cascade of water downstream from Hemlock Falls.

The drop is only about 5 or 6 feet, but the ledge of rock creates beautiful tiers as Daniel Creek descends. I found this small waterfall last summer, when very little water was flowing down the creek. So I knew it would be gorgeous with with all the rains.

Dropping off the trail, I saw the waterfall framed by two logs: one on either side of the creek. I used the closest one, along with the huge boulders on the edge of Daniel Creek, to frame the wonderful waterfall.

I'm so happy I added the extra miles to Cloudland Canyon State Park to my trip. It was a visit that will live in my memory - and on my gallery - forever.