World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Little River Canyon

Article Id: WHEBN0004433240
Reproduction Date:

Title: Little River Canyon  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Canyon, Gaylesville, Alabama, Lookout Mountain, North Alabama, Lisa Ann Millican
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Little River Canyon

Little River Canyon National Preserve
Location Cherokee County & DeKalb County, Alabama, USA
Nearest city Fort Payne, Alabama

34°26′26″N 85°35′44″W / 34.44056°N 85.59556°W / 34.44056; -85.59556Coordinates: 34°26′26″N 85°35′44″W / 34.44056°N 85.59556°W / 34.44056; -85.59556

Area 13,633 acres (55.17 km2)
Established October 24, 1992
Visitors 201,442 (in 2005)
Governing body National Park Service

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 nearly 14,000-acre (5,700 ha) 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 river

The 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.

The main stem of the river is formed by the confluence of the 17-mile-long (27 km) East Fork and the 25-mile-long (40 km) West Fork. The Little River flows another 23 miles (37 km) from the confluence of the forks, through the canyon, to its end at Weiss Lake.[1]

The canyon

The river is said to be among the cleanest and wildest waterways in the South, undammed aside from a small and derelict hydroelectric project at DeSoto Falls on the West Fork near Mentone, Alabama. Sandstone cliffs tower up to 600 feet (180 m) above the narrow canyon floor, frequently visible from the 23-mile (37 km) scenic drive known as Little River Canyon Rim Parkway (AL 176, Dekalb C.R. 148, Cherokee C.R. 275) on the canyon's western rim. The northern half of this road was built under federal supervision in the New Deal era. The southern half was built by local authorities.

The river boasts three major waterfalls: DeSoto Falls, Little River Falls (at the beginning of the canyon), and Grace's High Falls. The latter plunges from Bear Creek which leads to the canyon, is highly seasonal, and is Alabama's highest waterfall at 133 feet (41 m).[2]

Eberhart Point, above the confluence of Bear Creek and the Little River, is the most convenient point for descents to the bottom of the canyon. Hikers may follow a rough eroded path, the remnant of a vehicle access-way which was constructed during the course of a ski-lift and amusement park project which the State of Alabama permitted a private consortium of Fort Payne businessmen to undertake in the late 1960s. The project was abandoned in a couple of years, though visitors may still see associated debris in Pine Tree Hole, in the bottom of the canyon. An unmaintained but fairly well-defined trail proceeds approximately eight miles to the canyon mouth. Heading upstream is much more problematic and should only be undertaken by hikers accustomed to bushwhacking. The river is popular with practiced whitewater enthusiasts who are willing to carry their vessels down to Pine Tree Hole. Camping is not currently permitted in the canyon.

There are currently very few visitor facilities operated by the National Park Service within the preserve. DeSoto State Park, operated by the Alabama State Park System, is located within the preserve boundaries and has a lodge, restaurant, several campgrounds, and other facilities. There is a day-use area at the mouth of the canyon where a campground was once operated. The area provides places for picnics and is a popular swimming location.

There has been little land acquisition since the New Deal era, and the immediate area of the canyon is being encroached upon by real estate speculation, vacation house and even subdivision development.


Backcountry camping is allowed only in three locations: Slant Rock, Hartline's Ford, and Billy's Ford.[3] Hunting in the preserve requires a hunting license from Alabama or any other state. Riding ATV's is no longer permitted.[4] Fishing requires an Alabama fishing license and net or seine fishing are not allowed.

Jacksonville State University Field Schools (Little River Canyon Field School) offers outdoor education and environmental education programs in DeKalb County and Cherokee County in and around the canyon and preserve.[5]


External links

  • National Park Service: Little River Canyon National Preserve

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.