Paradise in the Clouds and Diner at The Canyon Grill
By Cindy Straus
Once of my favorite things to do when fall arrives is to jump in the car and head to the North Georgia mountains for some leaf watching. This weekend we packed up the car and made our way north on I75 towards Chattanooga A pretty drive in itself – but the scenery gets even more spectacular when you head west towards Birmingham. In one and a half hours we were at our destination – Cloudland Canyon State Park.
Located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon in Rising Fawn, Georgia is one of the most scenic parks in the state. The park straddles a deep gorge cut into the mountain by Sitton Gulch Creek. Mountain elevations reach 800-1980 ft.
Just a short walk from the picnic parking area is an overlook offering the best view into the canyon. The leaf colors are magnificent. You could not ask for a prettier picture. It is Mother Nature’s annual show of gorgeous reds, yellows, oranges and maroon flanked by two waterfalls cascading into pools below.
For the adventurous outdoor lover, Cloudland has several hiking trails- 4.8-mile West Rim and Waterfalls Trail, for close-up views of the waterfalls- a 2-mile backcountry trail, 6.5-mile Sitton Gulch Trail and Long Branch Trail. Be aware there is a 600-step staircase and for safety there is no wading in the pools or rock climbing allowed.
For the angler and little fishers there is a pond well stocked with catfish offers fishing until November 30th. Georgia fishing regulations apply. The pond is open from 8am to dusk.
Picnic areas are plentiful and cottages and camp site are also available for rent at reasonable rates for those wanting to extend their stay. Nature lovers should not miss this park’s spectacular scenery. So grab your camera (and maybe a sweater!) and enjoy a truly delightful show.Cloudland Canyon State Park Rising Fawn, Georgia Park Hours: 7AM-10PM
(Please note: Gates lock at 10 p.m. No late access.)
It’s Time for Dinner at The Canyon Grill After an afternoon in the woods and all that fresh air we were hungry so we stopped for dinner at Canyon Grill – just a short drive ½ mile drive from Cloudland on the Scenic Highway.
Canyon Grill is a little gem that sits on top of the mountain. This isn’t just a local joint of unusual quality. Canyon Grill is a top-drawer destination restaurant.deserving coverage in glossy food magazines.
The menu features many locally grown products and the freshest trout and catfish anywhere. Entres change each season. I tried the house signature dish – Slash and Burn Catfish. The whole 2.5 lb. bone-in catfish is stuffed with ginger, garlic and jalapenos cut into thin slashes, deep fried swimming in black beans. You chip off the peppery fried overcoat to release a thin piping of steam and flaky white flesh Mike had the pork tenderloin (Cuban-style, Mojo sauce). He pronounced it excellent!. Click here for the recipe for Slash and Burn Catfish
Even the vegetables are to die for. Chef Johnny Holland slices a head of red cabbage in half, brushes it with olive oil and grills it, then smears the softened head with reduced heavy cream, garlic and whole, smushed anchovies. We’d just about make the long trek up this narrow mountain road again just for that.
Don’t forget to bring your own bottle of wine!! (Dade is a dry county) Check out the website for an updated menu, that is how we chose our wine variety.www.canyongrill.com