Today I had the chance to take the short one hour drive over to Little River Canyon National Preserve in Alabama. LRC is still new to the park system and remains largely undiscovered by many people in the area. The park’s scenic drive is rarely busy. In the summer months, crowds will gather at Canyon Mouth picnic area where many people swim. Other busy areas is the LRC falls trail. Many people will swim in this area as well.
If you’re planning on visiting northern Alabama, make this park your destination. While your there, be sure to check out Beaver Pond Trail and take the entire scenic drive and stop at the overlooks. Each offer a unique and ever-changing view of this amazing canyon. Also stop at the park’s visitor center. It’s an incredible new building made entirely of eco-friendly materials and is LEED certified. It uses solar and geothermal’s to heat and cool the building. There are often numerous educational opportunities for all ages on weekends at the Little River Canyon Center.
I wish I could say that this visit was perfect, but it turned out not to be. And it wasn’t the rain that upset me. It was the needless graffiti painted on the rocks, even Mushroom Rock, along the scenic drive at the bouldering field. Some high-school kids painted their names all over the amazing formations ruining the photo ops for everyone. I sure hope they find those responsible and charge them with vandalism and destruction of government property. I’d like for all involved to loose any chances of government funds for their college education. That’ll serve them right.
In the midst of afternoon thunderstorms, I headed over to Alabama to explore Little River Canyon National Preserve.
A unit of the National Park Service, Little River Canyon earned its National Preserve designation in 1992 and before that, was declared a Wild and Scenic River in 1969.
The canyon begins at Little River Falls, a very impressive 45 foot waterfall that is accessible from several nice overlooks at the parking area on HWY 35. It is at these waterfalls that the canyon begins. Water flow varies greatly from season to season. The highest flows occur from late Autumn to early Spring, and many experienced kayakers will tackle some of the best and toughest kayaking in the Southeast. Many will begin their kayaking experience by kayaking over Little River Falls. From here, Little River slices through the canyon for miles. Most of the area is free to visit. There is no charge to park and explore Little River Falls and there are no tolls along the scenic drive.
Speaking of the scenic drive, if you’re visiting the park, you’ll probably spend most of your time taking in the amazing vistas from all of the easily accessible viewpoints. To take the drive, at the Little River Falls parking area turn left and cross over the new bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn left again onto the scenic drive, HWY 176. This route follows the canyon rim for twelve miles and affords explorers with some of the best views of the canyon. There are many amazing overlooks along this drive, as well as several trailheads where hikers can trek down to the river. If you choose to hike Little River Canyon please be aware that the park’s trails are managed as backcountry and they are often rugged and rocky. Please plan your hike appropriately!