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Little River Canyon National Preserve, Fort Payne

Categories: Canyons, National Parks, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.7/5 based on 340+ reviews on the web
Little River Canyon National Preserve is a United States National Preserve located on top of Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Alabama, and DeSoto State Park. Created by an act of Congress in 1992, the 15,288acre preserve protects what is sometimes said to be the nation's longest mountaintop river, the Little River. The canyon was historically called "May's Gulf", "gulf" being a common term throughout the Cumberland Plateau for this sort of feature (e.g. Savage Gulf in Tennessee, or Trenton Gulf nearby in Georgia, now renamed "Cloudland Canyon"). The canyon is sometimes said to be the deepest canyon in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Prior to being assigned to the National Park Service, the canyon area formed the southmost unit of Alabama's DeSoto State Park.The riverThe Little River flows for almost its entire length down the middle of Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. Over eons of geologic time, Little River has carved out one of the Southeast's deepest canyons as it winds its way from headwaters in Georgia before exiting the mountain and emptying into the Coosa River (Weiss Lake impoundment) near Leesburg, Alabama. Legend has it that a minor Civil War skirmish occurred on the rim.
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  • I have been going to Little River Canyon my entire life. It's an amazing and gorgeous place to visit. It has always been clean and a very popular place. Great place to take children or pets. 
  • I traveled to this NPS site located near Fort Payne, AL. The park is divided into two sections, divided by a road. On one side is the visitors centers and park areas where one can easily walk through ...  read more »
  • If you get carsick this is not for you. Lots of winding curves and some straight up drives.The leaves were turning and it was a pretty drive. Lots of great places to pull off and take pictures. But no...  read more »
  • Starting at the falls on SR35, there are primitive restrooms (no plumbing or water) but the parking lot is not gated. There are composite fiber steps and walkway that go to a viewing area beside the falls. For the more adventurous, there's also a natural path near the bridge that leads to the river itself. During the summer months and dry weather, the river is narrow and shallow.Hiking trails exist for a more intimate experience. On the other side of the bridge from the parking lot, the road that leads into the canyon, is appx 12 miles long. It has very steep hills and extra sharp curves, all along the canyon's edge. There are several pull-off areas to get spectacular views and pictures.
  • Amazing! We didn't do the hiking trails but we drove and saw the overlooks! Breathtaking views of the mountains. You can look at the overlooks and the Little River Falls in an hour and a half. It's a great place to stretch your legs on a long drive or just duck off for a short visit. WARNING: Check or call the office for the GPS coordinates if your unfamiliar with the area secondly even though you have the coordinates Google will tell you that your destination is a closed gate on the left side of the road but the actual entrance is abut another .25 of a mile further up the road to the left. To the right of the hwy is start of the Scenic drive. If your not hiking go down to the last Overlook then turn around and come back out because there's really not much to see after that point but before taking this scenic hwy go about 100 ft past the visitors entrance road which is on the left and the scenic hwy on the right and on the right is the entrance to the falls overlook right across the bridge. There is a side walk that goes to the bridge and the bridge has a bench with an amazing view of the canyon! The overlook has a great view of the Little River Falls! Thanks so much to the staff there for mailing and emailing with me about this destination! Super staff!
  • Beautiful place to spend the day. Great sights and excellent hiking trails. The loop around the rim is also a convenient way to get in the sights especially if you're strapped for time.
  • I've been coming to this magical place to swim and explore for most of my life. The main parking area with the waterfall and swimming hole is cool but usually crowded on hot summers days. If you do some research or make friends with a local who, you can find out about some of the really amazing spots downstream. Some spots require a bit of intense hiking down into the canyon but they are completely worth it.
  • Stupendous beauty and unique features. Little River winds the length of Lookout Mtn before dropping and creating a fantastic gorge. Don't miss the drive along the gorge edge as there are plenty of constructed parking & viewing areas to enjoy. So much to see and do here...that's just a start.
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