Lula Lake Land Trust: Lula Falls/High Adventure Trail/Middle Road Trail Loop, Chattanooga Valley, Georgia
In a normal state park, or recreation area for that matter, you have a chance to visit it every day, whenever you want. In Lula Lake Land Trust, two days is how many days you have a chance to visit per month. Just two. Lula Lake Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that bought a small area of land of Lula Lake Road to protect Rock Creek and its watershed. Thank you for buying it. The area of land, while small, houses two waterfalls, a gorge, and a ridge with spectacular views. This is one of the best hikes in northwest Georgia, besides Cloudland Canyon State Park's trail system. The only major con is that much of the hike is on old roads, perhaps the only reason I won't classify it as a Best Hike. This hike occurred on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014. My plan was to hike down the Lula Lake Entrance Road from the parking area to the Old Railroad Grade Trail. From there, I would follow the Railroad Grade Trail past Lula Lake Falls to Lula Falls Trail. I would follow Lula Falls Trail to the base of the falls, and then return back and continue down the Old Railroad Grade Trail to the High Adventure Trail. From there, I would follow the High Adventure Trail to great views at the top of Eagle Cliff, and then take the Middle Road Trail down to the chestnut orchards. Next, from the Middle Road Trail, I would take the Turkey Trail to the Overbird Trail, the Overbird Trail back to the Middle Road Trail, and finally, the Middle Road Trail to the Middle Road Cutoff Trail, which would take me back to the parking area.
R/T Length of Trail: 4 Miles
Duration of Hike: 2 Hours, 10 Minutes
Type of Hike: Loop with Short Spur
Difficulty Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Major water features; well-maintained trails generally and well-signed intersections; great views; chestnut orchards
Cons: Big crowds; steep ascent with help of cable on High Adventure Trail; much of the trail is on old roads
Best Season(s) to Hike: Year-round; possibly spring when there's more water
Trail Blaze Color(s): None and none needed
Beginning Point: Parking area on the road that goes through Lula Lake Land Trust
Directions: From Chattanooga Valley, GA: Take GA State Route 193 South to Nick-A-Jack Road. Follow Nick-A-Jack Road for 4 miles to GA State Route 157. Turn right and continue straight for about 2 miles until you see the entrance to Lula Lake Land Trust on the right. Remember, the gate is open from 9 Am to 5 PM only on the first and last Saturday of each month.
Lula Lake Land Trust is a small area of land, but yet, has so many features that made this an almost excellent, textbook hike. But first, let's define land trust. A land trust has two definitions, but in this case, it would be a nonprofit, private organization that works to conserve land, by its stewardship of the aforementioned land. The Lula Lake Land Trust is open only two days per month, and that is the first and last Saturday of each month. Kudos to the Lula Lake Land Trust for having this place open to public, if only 24 days per year!
The entrance can be unnoticed, because there's only a small sign. Once you enter, a steep gravel road will lead you down. It is asphalted i the steepest section. It's about a mile down to the parking lot. the parking lot is not a real parking lot. It's just a large grassy area where everyone can park. Before you start the hike, you have to sign in, and then you are good. The first 0.3 miles are on the exit road. Then, where you see the sign "Exit <---", keep forward on an old, closed road. This is the Old Railroad Grade Trail. The trail is easy and going slightly downhill. At 1 mile, there is a bridge over Rock Creek. You can see the precipice of Rock Creek into Lula Lake from here. Right afterwards, there's a picnic area, and a short but steep side trail that leads down to Lula Lake and Lula Lake Falls. This is a small but natural lake, formed by rock cliffs and the falls. The falls is a small cascade of about 30 feet. It was pretty powerful on the day I came. After viewing the falls, continue down the Old Railroad Grade Trail another 0.3 miles down to the Lula Falls Trail junction. The Lula Falls trail is a short but very steep trail. In just 0.2 miles, it descends nearly 200 feet. It is very rocky and rugged too. It seemed harder descending then ascending in a way. However, when you get to the base, it's well worth it. You can see the 100-foot drop of Lula Falls. Once you have finished spectating, ascend back up the Lula Falls Trail (which was easier than descending in this case). Reach the junction with the Old Railroad Grade Trail at 1.5 miles. Here, turn left and continue following it down for a bit until you reach an unsigned junction with the High Adventure Trail at 1.9 miles. If you continue forward, you will reach the property boundary right away, so turn right here.
The High Adventure Trail, as the name implies, is steep and challenging, albeit short. It ascends 250 feet in 0.3 miles, and the first 0.1 mile involves some rock scrambling and there were even cables put there to help. Well, you could do it without the cables, if the cables were absent, but I took use of them just to make it easier, although they were not required. After the cable part ends, it gets easier, although the trail is still ascending. There were a few views to the Rock Creek gorge, before the trail turned back south to follow the edge of Eagle Cliff. There were some views to the east, but the main viewpoint was at 2.2 miles at the junction with the Middle Road Trail. Here, there was a picnic table, and an outstanding eastward view towards Chattanooga Valley and the southern Chattanooga metro. Looking to the far southeast, I could see some higher mountains, likely part of the Armuchee Ridges in the western portions of the Chattahoochee National Forest. From the junction, the Bluff Road trail continued forward, and the Middle Road Trail turned right. Ignore where the arrows on the sign point to - it appeared like the sign was flipped. Also, an unsigned old road continued diagonally back to the northwest. I wasn't sure where it led. Take the Middle Road Trail. Right away, you'll also pass the Bike Trail going away to the left. the Middle Road Trail is a gently descending old road, but it wasn't eroded at all and was quite sandy. Great for walking. It led to the junction with a connector trail that led back to the Old Railroad Grade Trail. Here, there was a viewing bench to view some of the chestnut orchards. At 2.8 miles, the trail reached the Turkey Trail. Turn left onto the Turkey Trail. All of the Turkey Trail ascent, but it's gentle. The turkey trail passes the Homestead Trail on the right at 3 miles, and reaches a junction with the Overbird Trail at 3.3 miles.
Turn right onto the Overbird Trail. This trail will descend to the Middle Road Trail at 3.6 miles. Turn right here again, and pass the Homestead Trail exit on the right at 3.7 miles. Turn right onto the Middle Road Cutoff Trail in a small gap at a sign "Footbridge and Parking Lot ^" at 3.8 miles. Then, turn right again at 3.9 miles onto a connector, and after going down the hill into another gap, turn left to the footbridge. The trail crossed Rock Creek on the footbridge and ended at 4 miles back at the parking area.
To summarize: while this hike did have some hard sections, it generally wasn't hard, and most hikers can do it. I'ts true that the old roads can get a bit boring, but the rewards overweigh that significantly. Below are some pictures and videos. Please excuse rain bleeks, as it was raining and there were raindrops on my lens.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
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