Hiking

Sun shining through the trees
A sunny winter morning on the Beaver Pond Trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Beaver Pond Trail

Take a walk through the woods and enjoy multiple ecosystems and four creek crossings with small bridges. The trail features several benches on which you can take in the peaceful setting and enjoy the variety of birds which can be found throughout the year.

Trailhead Location: Little River Canyon Rim Parkway (Alabama Highway 176)
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Length: 1.5 miles / 2.4 km
Trail Type: Loop with out-and-back to Beaver Pond
 
View of Little River from the Bridge Trail
Benches invite you to take in the Little River as it begins to form Little River Canyon on the  Bridge Trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Bridge Trail

This easy trail leads visitors from the Jacksonville State University Little River Canyon Center to Little River Falls, with a scenic walk over the river along the Highway 35 bridge walkway. Connects with the Little Falls Trail on the boardwalk.

Trailhead Location: Little River Falls parking lot and Little River Canyon Center parking lot
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Length: .75 mile / 1.2 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back

The Jacksonville State University Little River Canyon Center and parking lot is temporarily closed until further notice as a precaution to park visitors and staff due to COVID-19.
 
Trail leading through the woods alongside a river
The Canyon Mouth Trail heads into Little River Canyon alongside the Little River.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Canyon Mouth Trail


Walk into Little River Canyon from where it ends on the Canyon Mouth Trail. Explore the plants and wildlife which thrive in the rich floodplain alongside the Little River as you hike upstream to where Johnnie's Creek empties into the river.

Trailhead Location: Canyon Mouth Park - far end of the parking lot
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Length: 1 mile / 1.6 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back - trail ends at Johnnie's Creek
 
Little River with fall color
West Fork of the Little River in fall from the DeSoto Scout Trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer

DeSoto Scout Trail

The DeSoto Scout Trail is the park's longest trail, connecting Little River Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park through the Wildlife Management Area (backcountry). The southern portion of the trail follows along Road 5 and is shared with vehicles, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, and breaks away from the dirt road at the confluence of the West Fork and the East Fork of the Little River. From there, the DeSoto Scout Trail offers numerous exits and connections, giving hikers plenty of options for distances and difficulties.

Trailhead Locations: Road 5 south terminus at DeKalb County Road 295, Road 5 north terminus at Dunn Road, DeSoto State Park Lodge, and marked Exits along Road 5 and the DeSoto State park CCC Bike Trail.
Trail Difficulty: Moderate to Arduous
Trail Length: 16 miles / 25.7 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back with opportunites to make loops using Exits, Road 5, and DeSoto State Park trails

* Hunting is allowed in the Wildlife Management Area during designated time periods - use caution
 
View of the canyon, river, and rocky cliffs in winter.
A winter view from the Eberhart Trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Eberhart Trail

Venture into the canyon and down to the river and popular summer swimming holes. Watch for ruins of Canyonland Park & Zoo, which offered a chairlift down into the canyon along this trail and benches in the woods near the river. When the river is low, hikers can connect with the Powell Trail by hiking down-river

Trailhead Location: Eberhart Point overlook on the Little River Canyon Rim Parkway (AL Highway 176)
Trail Difficulty: Arduous/steep
Trail Length: .75 mile / 1.2 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
 
A rocky trail leading through the woods
Follow the sandstone-laden trail to a popular summer swimming hole.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Little Falls Trail

After visiting Little River Falls, follow the river along the rim on this sandstone-laden trail leading to a popular summer swim spot, Little Falls. The trail ends with 127 stone steps leading into the canyon and down to the river. Spanning the width of the river, Little Falls is a 10 foot / 3 meter high shelf of sandstone.

* On late spring and summer weekends, the Little River Falls parking lot often is full by 11:00 AM (CST) and park staff will close the lot until spaces become available. Have a back-up plan in case this trail is inaccessible due to a full parking lot.

Trailhead Location: Little River Falls boardwalk (mid-way down boardwalk ramp to the left) and south edge of parking lot near picnic bench
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Length: .75 mile / 1.2 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
 
Reflections of summer trees in the river
The steep, rocky Lower Two-Mile Trail leads to a popular summer swim hole and whitewater kayak put-in.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Lower Two-Mile Trail

This short dirt and rock trail descends quickly from the rim to the river and is most commonly used by whitewater kayakers in the winter and spring.

Trailhead Location: Little River Canyon Rim Parkways (Alabama Highway 176) between Mushroom rock and Hawks Glide overlook
Trail Difficulty: Arduous/steep
Trail Length: .10 mile / .16 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
 
A log cabin from 1832
Hikers will find a log cabin from 1832 along the Path to Learning trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Path to Learning Trail

Located immediately behind the Little River Canyon Center, this Jacksonville State University educational path leads to several learning stations on topics such as Botany, Geology, Wildlife Ecology, and Cultural Heritage of the Little River Canyon area. Hikers seeking a longer walk can connect with the Bridge Trail on the east end of the Path to Learning Trail.

Trailhead Location: Behind the Little River Canyon Center - follow sidewalks to the treeline
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Trail Length: .5 mile / .8 km
Trail Type: Loop
 
A stream cascading over sandstone
Hikers are accompanied by streams along the Powell Trail.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Powell Trail

Explore into Little River Canyon on this trail which leads you along a small stream down to the Little River. Abundant wildflowers reward hikers on this trail in the spring. When the river is low, hikers can connect with the Eberhart Trail by hiking up-river.

Trailhead Location: Cherokee County Road 275 about 4 miles south of Eberhart Point
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Length: .75 mile / 1.2 km
Trail Type: Out-and-back
 
Path leading through the woods
Enjoy a walk through the rolling wooded hills of the Wildlife Management Area.

NPS / Matt Switzer

YCC Loop Trail

Take a hike in the rolling wooded hills of the Wildlife Management Area, Little River Canyon's backcountry. The majority of this trail follow Road 5 and Road 10, with an old out-of-use road linking the two. This portion can be found from Road 10 by going past the gate, continuing on the road until reaching a large open field, the trail continues from the far right side of that field. From Road 5, the road can be found after 2 miles on the left side - watch for pink and blue flagging.

Trailhead Location: Road 5 southern terminus (park at large gravel horse trailer parking lot prior to Road 5)
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Trail Length: 3.75 miles / 6 km
Trail Type: Loop

* Hunting is allowed in the Wildlife Management Area during designated time periods - use caution
 
A dirt road leading through green summer woods
Numbered dirt and gravel roads lead through the Wildlife Management Area, the backcountry of Little River Canyon National Preserve.

NPS / Matt Switzer

Roads in Wildlife Management Area (Backcountry)

The rolling wooded hills of Little River Canyon National Preserve's backcountry can be accessed through the numbered roads found throughout the Wildlife Management Area. These roads are shared by 4-wheel drive vehicles, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and hikers alike. Difficulties range from easy-to-moderate and some roads may be linked together to form a loop.

Road Info: (Road Number - length - access point(s) - any other road connections)

Road 1: 1.8 miles / 2.9 km - access by Cherokee County Road 103 (at Hunter Check Station) - connects with Road 2 and Slant Rock

Road 2: 3 miles / 4.8 km - access by Cherokee County Road 103 - connects with Road 1 and Road 4 (to Billy's Ford)

Road 3 (Hartline Ford): 1.8 miles / 2.9 km - access by Cherokee County Road 103 - connects with Road 5 (across river) and Road 11

Road 4 (Billy's Ford): .5 mile / .8 km - access by Road 2 to the east and Road 5 to the west - road is bisected by Little River

Road 5: 7.6 miles / 12.2 km - access by DeKalb County Road 295 (south end) and Dunn Road (north end) - connects with Roads 3 (Hartline Ford), 4 (Billy's Ford), 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, and the DeSoto Scout Trail and YCC Loop Trail

Road 6: .5 mile / .8 km - access by Road 5 - no connections

Road 7: 1 mile / 1.6 km - access by Road 5 and Road 8 - connects with Road 5 and Road 8

Road 8: 2 miles / 3.2 km - access by Oak Hill Road - connects with Roads 5, 7, and 9

Road 9: 1.7 miles / 2.7 km - access by Oak Hill Road - connects with Road 5 and Road 8

Road 10: .8 mile / 1.3 km - access by Road 5 - connects with Road 5 and YCC Loop Trail

Road 11: .2 mile / .3 km - access by Road 3 - connects with Road 3

* Hunting is allowed in the Wildlife Management Area during designated time periods - use caution

Last updated: October 19, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

4322 Little River Trail NE Ste 100
Fort Payne, AL 35967

Phone:

(256) 845-9605 x201
Main phone number for Little River Canyon National Preserve.

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