Summary of our trip experience
We spent 6 nights at Cloudland Canyon State Park in the fall of 2011 over the week of Thanksgiving. I highly recommend a visit to Cloudland Canyon for the hiking and great views overlooking the canyon. We had a nice campsite and had a great time. Keep reading below for our recommend itineraries and advice on planning your trip. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us through our Contact Page.
Below are 3 Day and 1 Day recommended itineraries for your visit to Cloudland Canyon, based on my family’s visit to the State Park.
3 Day Itinerary
- Hike Overlook Trail
- This just involves walking the east edge of the rim around the day use and visitor center area
- Hike Waterfalls Trail
- If you have time and the legs include the out and back Sitton’s Gultch Trail. If not, save this for Day 3
- Hike West Rim Loop
- Start early and catch the sunlight coming through the canyon.
- Stop and check out the various overlooks. I recommend having a seat and just taking in the views.
- Be careful with kids as there are some spots along the trail close to the canyon wall drop offs.
- Hike Sitton’s Gulch Trail up to the Water Falls
- Park at the North Trail Head for Sitton’s Gulch Trail Head and you will avoid the steps and be able to see the Water Falls again at the south end of Sitton’s Gulch.
If you have additional days or time, add this:
- Add in the Back Country Trail
- It is an easy and peaceful hike.
- There is a longer Back Country loop that is by permit only and subject to closure
- We did not hike this, but I assume it is worth checking out if you have the legs for it, it is open and you get a permit.
If You Only Have 1 Day
- Hike Overlook Trail
- Arrive early to see the sun rise
- Hike West Rim Trail
- I recommend this prior to the Water Falls Trail, so you can see the sunlight coming over the canyon as you walk the rim, assuming you start early enough.
- Hike Water Falls Trail
Stop along the hikes and enjoy the scenery. I would visit the rim and overlooks for the evening sunsets as well. We drove down from Michigan and it was well worth the trip. Cloudland Canyon is a nice destination place, especially for northern folks looking for a place to visit in the fall or spring.
The park is not focused on kids and the hikes could be strenuous for them. Plus there are a some steep drop offs on the West Rim Trail. That being said, my kids had a blast and if you parked at the North Trail Head for Sutton’s Gultch Trail; you would have a nice out and back hike with kids.
There are Cottages and Yurts for rent within the park.
There are 2 campground loops and I recommend the West Rim Campground Loop if you like more space and a more rustic atmosphere. However, the East Rim Campground is right by the main trail heads, making it convenient to hit the trails without having to get in your vehicle. The East Rim Campground just appeared to be more open and less private between campsites. Check the links at the bottom of the page for our campground reviews.
My Trip Report – A Week At Cloudland Canyon State Park
My Campground Review – Cloudland Canyon State Park Campground Review