Thursday, November 14, 2013

Outdoor Activities at Alabama's Little River Canyon

The Little River Canyon National Preserve is one of the most scenic areas in northern Alabama. The canyon is located in the northeast corner of the state, near Fort Payne. The Little River flows on top of Lookout Mountain and then carves a deep canyon as it flows off the mountain to join the Coosa River. Alabama has designated the Little River as a State Wild and Scenic River. The area offers plenty of outdoor recreation for visitors to enjoy.A scenic drive, Alabama Hwy 176, runs along the western side of the canyon. Overlooks and stops along the way offer visitors the chance to get out of their vehicles and enjoy spectacular views or take short hikes. Three trails are easy to moderate hikes. Little River Falls Trail is a.4 mile loop trail to the falls. Beaver Pond Trail is a 1.8 mile loop of moderate difficulty. Canyon Mouth Trail is accessed from the park and picnic area at the bottom of the canyon. Two other trails, Eberhart Trail and Lower Two Mile Trail, are steep hikes.Horseback riding is popular in the Backcountry Area of the preserve. Twenty-three miles of dirt roads are open to riders. There are two parking lots for riders to park and unload horses. Mountain biking is also allowed on these Backcountry roads.Hunting is allowed in the Backcountry Area in season. The area is managed by the Little River Canyon Preserve and the Alabama Department of Natural Resources. A hunting license and permit are required. Fishing is allowed anywhere along the Little River. A valid fishing license is required. Fly fishing is popular at the Canyon Mouth Park.Bird watching is another popular activity at Little River Canyon. Waterfowl are often seen on the Beaver Pond Trail. The canyon overlooks are good places to spot hawks, vultures, and sometimes bald eagles. Many bird species including bobwhites, tanagers, and warblers may be observed in the Backcountry Area.Rock climbing is allowed in the canyon. Climbers must have their own equipment and cannot add or remove bolts. Most of the climbing areas are rated for expert climbers. Primitive camping is permitted February 1-September 30 at three campsites in the Backcountry. Water and electricity are not available. There is no charge for camping, and sites are available on a first come basis. Camping is not allowed in the canyon.Little River Canyon's facilities are open seven days a week during daylight hours. There is a $3 per vehicle day use fee for the Canyon Mouth Picnic Area.

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