Authorized in 1992, Little River Canyon National Preserve covers about 14,000 acres in northeast Alabama. Elevations range from 1,900-foot tall Lookout Mountain down to 650-foot Weiss Lake reservoir, as the Little River plunges from the Cumberland Plateau. With cliffs up to 600 feet in height, this unique gorge contains several endemic species of plants and animals. Only the southern half of the preserve is readily accessible by roads, with DeSoto State Park offering the best way to see the northern section.
Little River Falls, Canyon Mouth, Graces High Falls
Start your visit at the Little River Canyon Center on Highway 35, then make the short drive to the parking area for 45-foot tall Little River Falls. From there, drive Highway 176 for 11 miles along the west side of the canyon, which has nine scenic overlooks, including one for seasonal Graces High Falls.
There are a few short trails in the preserve, many of which drop steeply from the rim to the riverside. At the southern end near the intersection of Highways 273 and 275 is Canyon Mouth, a flat trail that follows alongside the Little River. There is better hiking and even more waterfalls in nearby DeSoto State Park.
Graces High Falls is 133 feet tall, making it the tallest (aboveground) waterfall in Alabama, but it only flows in the spring and after large rain events.
None except at Canyon Mouth ($15 per day or America the Beautiful pass)
All roads paved
De Soto State Park offers camping, in addition to excellent hiking trails to several waterfalls. There are also three backcountry campsites in Little River Canyon National Preserve available from February through September with a permit.
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