Little River Canyon National Preserve – Fort Payne, Alabama

Trail: Little River Falls Trail and Canyon Rim Drive

Park Information:
472 Alabama Highway 35
Fort Payne, AL 35967
(256) 845-9605

Park Hours:
Little River Canyon Center: 10AM – 4PM Daily (CST)
Canyon Mouth Picnic Area 8:00AM until Dark
These areas are open 7 days a week during daylight hours:
Little River Falls
Canyon/Overlooks on Scenic Drive
Martha’s Falls
Backcountry Area
Website: http://www.nps.gov/liri/index.htm

Directions: From Fort Payne, Alabama – Head East on Alabama – 35 for 7.5 miles. The parking lot for the Little River Falls is on your right after you pass by Canyon Rim Drive (Alabama Highway 176)

From Rome, Georgia – Start GA-20 West until you cross into Alabama. GA-20 West becomes AL-9. Travel on AL-9 for 4.9 miles and then turn right onto AL-35 Go 14.5 miles on AL-35 and the parking lot for the Litter River Falls is on your left. To get to The Canyon Rim Drive (Alabama Highway 176), turn left out of the parking lot, cross over the Little River and turn left onto Canyon Rim Drive.

Terrain: There are numerous very short trails that lead you from the ridge line down to the valley and to the Little River. There are a couple of longer trails, one being the Beaver Pond Trail. It is the longest trail in the park at about 1.8 miles. It’s an easy to moderate trail. The trail to the Falls Overlook is very short (less than a 1/10th mile) and paved. The trails that lead down to the river, (Lower Two Mile Trail, Eberhart Trail, Powell Trail) are also less than one mile, but are rugged and steep. One other trail, the Canyon Mouth Trail, is easy to moderate and less than one mile.

Little River Canyon National Preserve - Sunlit TrailMain Feature: The trails in this park are nice and offer some beautiful scenery, but it also offers a twelve mile road that winds along the canyon walls. This road “Canyon Rim Drive” has a total of seven, very well maintained, overlooks. These reveal expansive views of the canyon walls and the river below. Along the road there is also an area of large boulders as well as a “mushroom rock” that divides the road.

Family Oriented: Yes, nice for kids. Some of the trails may be too steep and rugged for smaller children. Decide on the right trails to hike before going.

Dogs Allowed: Yes, must be on a leash.

Hiking Fees: $3.00 fee at the Canyon Mouth Picnic Area. (this is at the southern most point of the drive.)

Little River Canyon National Preserve - RiverAbout: We decided to take the short hike at the falls and then the Canyon Rim Drive.

The Hike: Being early August, we knew to get up early and get on the trail just after dawn. This part of Alabama has similar weather to Rome, Georgia, which is humid and hot during the summer. We got to the trail early in the morning and headed straight for the Little River Falls. This was our first visit to this park. The parking lot was surprisingly empty.

Walking to the trail head we were greeted by a 6 foot wide paved pathway lined with split rail fence that led us down to the top of the falls. The falls were rather small this time of year. The park is a favorite for people who kayak during the winter months after a lot of rain. There is a well constructed wooden overlook to view the falls and since the water level was low, we could walk around the rocks at the top.

Little River Canyon National Preserve - Layered RocksWe ventured down the unpaved trail at the falls. The parks documentation states that the trails in the park are not well maintained, but this trail seemed to be in very good shape. Unfortunately, there were many off shoots where people had taken their own paths down to the riverside. There were green blazes on some trees that did keep us on the path. The path followed along the side of the canyon and because it had rained the night before, it was damp. It was rocky in locations. Quiet and serene is how I would describe it. We could hear the rapids from the river below. The morning sun was shooting through the trees as we were heading back to the car for the scenic drive.

We decided to follow the entire road through the park and to stop at all the overlooks. These overlooks were large and well marked. Some had stone pillars with wooden fencing and others had wooden decks that hung to the edge of the canyon.

They all had names: Starting from the most northern; Little River Falls Overlook, Lynn Overlook, Hawks Glide, Canyon View, Wolf Creek, Crow Point and Eberhart Point.

Little River Canyon National Preserve - OverlookThe views were spectacular. This is a beautiful canyon. There were rock outcroppings, as well as, a lot of forested area.

There is a part where a large boulder splits the road. This is called Mushroom Rock. There is an area off to the side where you can walk around and between very large boulders.

I will say that if you take the entire drive, be prepared for a lot of winding roads. There is a portion near the end that is extremely steep and requires you to go into a lower gear. Heed their warning and don’t ride your brakes.

If anyone in your group gets easily motion sick, they will need to take some anti-motion sickness medicine before going.

The park was mostly empty for the time we were there. That is understandable, the winter time is probably the better time to come. The water is raging and with the leaves off the trees, you should be able to see more of the Littler River from the overlooks.

It was a nice day with a little bit of hiking. I look forward to going back this winter and seeing the difference.

Want to know about more great places to hike in Alabama?  Get Hiking Alabama for your next great adventure!

Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

Russell

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