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Little River Canyon National Preserve

Russell Cave National Monument - BEST Places to Picnic

2141 Gault Avenue North
Fort Payne, AL 35967

Phone
Superintendent's Office
(256) 845-9605

Explore the Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River is unique because it flows for most of its length atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. Forested uplands, waterfalls, canyon rims and bluffs, pools, boulders, and sandstone cliffs offer settings for a variety of recreational activities. Natural resources and cultural heritage come together to tell the story of the Preserve, a special place in the Southern Appalachians.

Scenic Drive

There are several overlooks along the 11-mile scenic drive (AL Highway 176). There is no charge to tour this area. The road is paved with winding curves and hills. Very little walking is needed to enjoy the views from the overlooks. Picnic tables are available at most of the overlooks. Restrooms are located at Little River Falls, Eberhart Point and the Canyon Mouth Day Use Area.

Backcountry Area

The Backcountry Area is for horseback riders, ATV riders, hikers, 4-wheel drive vehicles and primitive camping. Camping is limited to three sites. Hunting is allotheyd on designated dates, times and places. A permit is required for ATV drivers. The permit is free and is available at the Superintendent's office in Fort Payne (Mon-Fri 8-4:30, Saturday 10-2). Each ATV driver has to obtain his/her permit in person.

Canyon Mouth Day Use Area

The Canyon Mouth Day Use Area is the perfect place for a day of picnicking along the water. Picnic tables, grills, a water fountain, a footwash station, and restrooms are available. There is a $3 user fee per vehicle for this area. $10 Season passes are also available.

Little River Falls

Little River Falls is where the water begins its descent into the canyon. There is no charge to tour this area. There is a 45-foot waterfall, picnic tables, and a restroom at this site. A short walk down a paved walkway leads you to an overlook to enjoy the view.

Things to Do

Little River Canyon National Preserve is still a relatively new park. They do not have a visitor center at this time. They recommend a visit to the Superintendent's office for general information and maps (Monday - Friday 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM CST, Saturday's 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM). If you prefer, you can request that they mail you this information in advance.

Alcohol - Alcohol is not allowed in the Preserve.

ATV Riding - A permit is required to operate an ATV on designated roads in the Backcountry Area.

Bird Watching

Bicycling - The scenic drive (Highway 176) is a narrow two-lane road with no shoulder or bike lanes. They do not recommend bikes on Highway 176. Mountain biking is allowed in the Backcountry Area. There are 23 miles of dirt/chert roads.

Camping

Family Reunions - They welcome you, but they do not reserve any picnic tables or pavilions.

Firearms/Weapons- No weapons/firearms are allowed within the Preserve boundaries except during hunting season and only in designated areas.

Fire Works - Fire works are not allowed in the Preserve.

Fishing

Hiking - Hike anywhere in the Preserve during daylight hours.

  • Canyon Mouth Day Use Area has a 2 mile hike (there and back).
  • Beaver Pond Trail provides a 1.8 mile loop trail.
  • Eberhart trail (3/4 mile) leads you to the bottom of the canyon. You can hike as far as you want but remember you have to hike back up the 3/4 miles to the top. The Eberhart trail is the most strenuous. There are no overnight backpack hiking trails in the Preserve. Camping is not allowed in the canyon.
  • YCC Trail located in the Backcountry Area. First left on Road 05 (coming in from County Road 295).

Horseback Riding

Hunting

Kayaking - Come prepared with all of your equipment and your own transportation. (Expert level, Class III+ to a VI). Pets - Pets must be on a leash at all times.

Photography - The overlooks offer beautiful views of the canyon for photography. Each season provides it's own color and drama.

Restrooms - Located at:

  • Little River Falls (vault toilet)
  • Eberhart Point Overlook (vault toilet)
  • Canyon Mouth Day Use Area (with water)
  • Billy's Ford Primitive Campsite (outhouse)
  • Hartline Ford Primitive Campsite (outhouse)
  • Slant Rock Primitive Campsite (outhouse)

Rock Climbing - Come prepared with all of your equipment and your own transportation. You can rock climb from any of the cliffs. You cannot add or remove any bolts or have any equipment on your person that would allow you to do so.

Scenic Drive - Drive your car along Highway 176 for the eleven mile tour. Stop at the overlooks and enjoy the scenery. Bring a picnic lunch and eat at one of the picnic tables.

Special Uses - Special uses such as weddings and baptisms, commercial filming, require a permit. All permits are subject to a fee. Applications for the permits are available at the superintendent's office. There is a non-refundable application fee of $50. Permit applications must be submitted 4 days prior to the event to Little River Canyon National Preserve, 2141 Gault Avenue North, Fort Payne, AL 35967. All permits are subject to approval.

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