North Georgia has gorgeous waterfalls, but nothing compares to the enormous Lula Lake waterfall at Lula Lake Land Trust in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The whole place is spectacular and makes for an exciting day trip with incredible hiking trails and fantastic views of Lookout Mountain.
I’ve wanted to visit here for many years, and I finally got to reserve my spot this year on Halloween. Not holding my breath to see peak fall foliage since this usually happens in mid-October in North Georgia, I was pleasantly surprised that the leaves did not change until much later this year, giving us the chance to see Lula Lake Land Trust in a vibrant display of red, orange, and yellow colors.
The hike was even more fun on Halloween because the Lula Lake Land Trust volunteers hid four small pumpkins before opening. You got a free day pass to return if you found a pumpkin. Unfortunately, we didn’t find any, but it made the hike more interesting as we searched for the well-hidden pumpkins.
If you plan on making this trek to see the enormous Lula Lake waterfall known as Lula Falls, below is information about visiting this magical place, along with tips on photographing at the base of Lula Falls.
Lula Lake Land Trust Directions
You can find Lula Lake Land Trust at the address below, and you’ll see a sign on the road indicating that you’ve arrived.
5000 Lula Lake Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
The History and Mission of Lula Lake Land Trust
Lula Lake, Lula Falls, and the surrounding property are owned and maintained by a nonprofit, the Lula Lake Land Trust. They aim to preserve and conserve over 8000 acres of land on Lookout Mountain. 8000+ acres!
This mission all started back in 1994 with Robert M. Davenport’s will. At the time of his death, Robert Davenport owned the land containing the Lula Lake waterfall and the surrounding area, which was 1200 acres. Today, the Lula Lake Land Trust maintains this land, part of the Rock Creek watershed on Lookout Mountain.
Mr. Davenport knew the importance of preserving the land to ensure future generations had access to it for educational and research purposes. They embrace this mission today and work with many students, universities, and other education programs and organizations. Lula Lake Land Trust continues to practice its conservation efforts and the preservation of life on the land.
11 Things You Must Know Before You Visit Lula Lake Waterfall
Costs and Reservations
- Lula Lake is only open on certain days of the year, usually each month’s first and last weekends. You can view the public access Open Gate days on their website. They are open from 9am to 5pm on Open Gate days, and the entrance gate closes at 2pm.
- You must make a reservation to visit Lula Lake, Lula Falls, and the surrounding property. Reservations can only be made through their website, and they occur rain or shine.
- You do not pay per person. Reservations are made per car, and it is $16 plus a convenience fee (around $3). The reservation fees are worth it since the whole area is amazing, and all fees support their conservation mission. Guided group hikes are also available to book at $40 per person, but there must be a minimum of 4 people for the guided hike to occur. Information about guided tours can be found here.
- You can buy an annual pass to Lula Lake Land Trust, which is something I am seriously considering for our next visit. You get to park closer to Lula Lake and Lula Falls, and you don’t need a reservation on Open Gate days. You simply show up on the days they are open and show your pass! The annual passes are $150 per car, and more information about purchasing a yearly pass can be found on their website.
- They will check for your reservation once you arrive if you don’t have an annual pass. This check is completed at the entrance, and they will ask for the name of your reservation. Parking is in a gravel lot near the start of your hiking journey.
What to Expect and What is Allowed
- Dogs are allowed at Lula Lake Land Trust, but only on a leash. They ask that your dogs not swim.
- Speaking of swimming, you cannot swim at Lula Lake or the Lula Lake waterfall.
- Bring plenty of water and food for your Lula Lake Land Trust trip. There are picnic benches where you can eat at various spots to enjoy your meal. We stopped at the picnic benches near Lula Lake. It is a good stopping point before you resume your hiking journey to Lula Falls.
- Lula Lake Land Trust has limited facilities. There are pit stops for restrooms, and we saw a porta-potty at the bridge near Lula Lake. There is no visitor center. But at the entrance, they have a small area where you can get free trail maps and purchase merchandise – t-shirts, stickers, hats, and other items.
- There are two waterfalls on the property, including the massive Lula Falls and an overlook where you can view this waterfall. If you want to get closer, you can hike down to the base of the falls. But remember that the hike to the base of Lula Falls is moderate to strenuous and requires many steps!
- Plan for at least a half-day to spend at Lula Lake Land Trust. I was overconfident and thought I could hike Lula Lake and Cloudland Canyon State Park in one day. It is something funny now that I think about it. We spent the whole day at Lula Lake, and I don’t regret it one bit!
Hiking at Lula Lake Land Trust
Multiple Hiking Trails
You will get free trail maps when you arrive, but you can access the Lula Lake Core Preserve trail map here. When we visited, they had someone at the entrance to answer questions regarding the different hiking trails and the difficulty level. The map includes the following trails:
- Bluff Trail (1.6 miles)
- Ford Trail (0.2 miles)
- High Adventure Trail (0.2 miles)
- Homestead Trail (0.5 miles)
- Jedi Trail (0.9 miles)
- Lula Falls Trail (0.1 miles)
- Middle Trail (1.1 miles)
- Nature Loop Trail (0.2 miles)
- North Creek Trail (0.5 miles)
- Old Lula Falls Trail (0.1 miles)
- Ovenbird Trail (0.25 miles)
- South Creek Trail (1.1 miles)
- Turkey Trail (0.9 miles)
- Connector Trails
Usually, when I read about hiking trails, I find the descriptions confusing and give up reading them halfway. However, Lula Lake Land Trust’s descriptions of the suggested hikes are pretty helpful, and I recommend reading Lula Lake’s suggested routes before you begin your hike.
There are four suggested hiking routes, but I counted 13 trails on the core preserve trail map. For Star Wars fans, one of the routes is awesomely called the Jedi Trail! Regretfully, we didn’t have enough time to go down this trail, but maybe next time.
Hiking the Classic Route
We hiked the Classic Route, which is 4.5 miles and rated as a moderate hiking level. Lula Lake Land Trust suggests this route to make the most out of your experience, and I agree since I saw a lot of the property and the Lula Lake waterfall.
If you take the Classic Route, not only do you see the lake and Lula Falls, but you also get to see the incredible views from the top of Lookout Mountain! The overlook is excellent for photography, as the big, puffy white clouds cast shadows over the tiny cars and buildings below.
Once you pass the Lookout Mountain overlook on the Bluff trail, you can take the Middle Trail to head back to the parking lot. The Middle Trail is beautiful, but some parts went uphill. I huffed, puffed, and got my heart rate going, but it wasn’t a bad hike!
Hiking to See the Giant Lula Lake Waterfall (Lula Falls)
Numerous people visit Lula Lake Land Trust to visit Lula Falls. It is an impressive waterfall, and there are not many large waterfalls in Georgia where you can just walk up near the base.
If your main goal is to see Lula Lake waterfall, you can take the Out and Back route. It’s an easy route that is primarily flat and 4.2 miles. You will see Lula Lake, the small waterfall at Lula Lake, and the overlook (top) of Lula Falls. But if you want to hike down to the base of Lula Falls, you will have to go an additional 1/10 of a mile from Lula Lake to get to the entrance for that trail.
Important tip: You do not want to attempt to hike to the base of the falls after 3pm, as you won’t make it back in time to the parking lot at closing time (5pm).
Also, Lula Lake Land Trust really stresses on their hiking map not to take the Old Lula Falls Trail as this is the exit from the waterfall. You will see a sign that says Old Lula Falls Trail, so do not go down this path if you are hiking down to the base of Lula Falls.
The hike down (and back up) to the base of Lula Falls is moderate to strenuous. It is not a very long hike, but steep with many steps. We had to walk slowly as it was slightly difficult to determine the path going down. The way back up is very steep but shorter than the hike down.
If you plan to hike to the base of Lula Falls, you will want to bring good hiking boots. It is also very slippery and rocky, so watch where you step!
Photography Tips at Lula Falls
The Lula Lake waterfall is an ideal place for waterfall photography. But if you plan to trek down to the base, you and your camera will likely get wet depending on how close you get to the waterfall. Something I didn’t think about beforehand.
“Neko,” my Canon EOS-1N, got a little too wet for my liking. Of course, I had no cloth or towel to wipe the moisture off. Sweaters are good for more than just keeping you warm, as I used the bottom of mine to clean off the water droplets. But you will want to bring a wipe cloth or towel just in case.
You will also want to account for any wind. The wind blew all the waterfall droplets into our faces and camera gear. I wish I could have taken some photos closer to Lula Falls, but it wasn’t worth damaging my camera.
For more helpful tips on photographing waterfalls (film or digital), visit my post here. You will certainly get some fantastic images when you visit Lula Lake Land Trust!
Have you been to the Lula Lake waterfall before? If so, what were your thoughts? Please share below!
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