Ok, so to be fair, this is really a hike we ALL enjoy, dog(s), husband, and wife. If you are visiting Chattanooga and are near the Dade County, Georgia area of Lookout Mountain, the section of the Cloudland Connector Trail starting at the Ascalon Trailhead is a great choice to take as short of a hike or as long of a hike as you want.
The Cloudland Connector Trail (CCT), is 14 miles in its entirety. It starts (or ends) at the Cloudland Canyon Trailhead, continues past the Ascalon Trailhead, and ends (or starts) at the Nickajack Trailhead. You can see all of your options, as well as other trails in the area, on this trail map.
Today we are focusing on a section of the CCT heading south from the Ascalon Trailhead. This is part of the of the Price Branch Section.
The Ascalon Trailhead is part of the Cloudland Canyon State Park system, so there is a Georgia State Park day use fee of $5 per vehicle (or if you are a Georgia State Park annual member, just hang up your tag) and gravel parking on the north side of Ascalon Road. If you park at the trailhead, cross the road to the south and begin your adventure.Wind down hill and the trail splits after about ½ – ¾ mile, by the bridge over Bear Creek. You can choose to go left or to continue going straight.
Taking a Left
Turn left just before the bridge to head down Can’t Hardly Trail, which is shown as a red, dashed and dotted line on the above map, and is 1.5 miles one way. Can’t Hardly is only for hikers and dogs. The long, downhill section of the narrow trail will cross the creek on a hand-made bridge. Depending on the water levels, you will find lovely pools of swimming water to the left. To make it a loop of about 3-4 miles, take all of Can’t Hardly through the ravine along the creek, then turn right back onto the CCT and return to the beginning across the Bear Creek Bridge. It is worth taking water if you do the longer hikes. Also, we carry a collapsable dog dish and even feed the dog water from the Camelbak.
If you opt instead to head straight on the CCT (shown as a green dash on the above map), then cross the Bear Creek Bridge. In winter and spring, Bear Creek is often full enough for your dog to splash around a bit. In late summer and fall before the rain, it is just enough to get a drink.
Continue up ahead around the ‘hairpin curve’, you can smell the woods. If you go straight here, you stay on the CCT. If you go up and to your right,(solid green line on the map) you can meet the CCT again after walking through the mountain laurel and the big rocks. Watch your step and be mindful of mountain bikes. Just remember, the dogs love to run out into the woods to smell the deer beds and chase the wild turkeys. The good news is, when you connect with the old road bed, you can turn left and reconnect to that CCT and make a big loop back to the start.
What I find is getting out in nature at least a few days every week makes me happier, the husband happier, and the dog(s) most of all. We do have animal friendly houses, and only charge a per stay fee (not per night), so save on those boarding fees and have ALL your family with you!