DeSoto State Park: Laurel Falls Trail, CCC Quarry Trail, and DeSoto Scout Trail (CCC Trail Shelter to Lodge), Fort Payne, Alabama
As one of Alabama's first state parks, DeSoto State Park was developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s, and much of their work can still be seen throughout the park today. Located on Lookout Mountain, the park is positioned on the west side of the West Fork of the Little River, conveniently close to the town of Fort Payne. A network of hiking trails visits as many as five waterfalls on tributaries of West Fork Little River. You will also see some views of the Little River gorge and some of the CCC's work on this moderate mountaintop hike. This hike occurred on Saturday, April 2nd, 2016. After completing a short hike to nearby De Soto Falls, I drove down to DeSoto State Park with a plan to make a loop out of several of the park's trail. First, I would take the Talmadge Butler Boardwalk to Azalea Cascade. Then, I would take the Azalea Cascade Trail to the Laurel Falls Trail. I would follow the Laurel Falls Trail to the Lost Falls Trailhead, making sure to make the side trips to Laurel Falls and Lost Falls. After the Lost Falls Trailhead, I would continue on a mountain bike trail that would take me past the CCC Museum and to the CCC Quarry. From the CCC Quarry, I would follow the CCC Quarry Trail to its terminus near the DeSoto State Park Visitor Center. After this, I would cross the park's Picnic and Play Area and follow an access trail to the DeSoto Scout Trail. I would follow the DST north for a little bit to the CCC Trail Shelter and views of the Little River, before turning south and finishing the hike at the park's lodge, passing Indian Falls and Lodge Falls in the meantime. A bit of roadwalk would be necessary to return back to the parking area.
Alabama's Little River is one of the few rivers in the United States that flows along a mountaintop. The headwaters of both the West Fork and East Fork of the Little River are in northwest Georgia on Lookout Mountain. Both forks of the river continue flowing along Lookout Mountain into Alabama, gradually carving out their own gorges on the mountain, before merging together and entering the Little River Canyon. Upon the end of Little River Canyon, the Little River flows into the Coosa River. One of the major landmarks on the West Fork of the Little River is De Soto Falls - an impressive waterfall that drops more than 100 feet into a rock amphitheater. The official view of the falls is from a rock outcrop on the side of the falls at the end of Desoto Falls Road. However, many people are not aware of an unofficial trail system that leads to the base of the falls. This hike occurred on Saturday, April 2nd, 2016. My plan was to take the unofficial trail from Desoto Falls Road past Icebox Cave to the base of De Soto Falls. Then, I would return to the road and take another unofficial trail to a view that would take in all of De Soto Falls and its basin.
Little River Canyon National Park: Martha's Falls Trail, Beaver Pond Loop Trail, and Eberhart Trail, Fort Payne, Alabama
There are just a few places in Eastern Alabama worthy of hiking at, and Little River Canyon is definitely one of them. The canyon is over a dozen miles long, and it is bordered by the Sand Mountain Ridge to its west, and the Lookout Mountain Ridge to its east. There are lots of interesting rock formations around the canyon, and in the canyon, while Little River rushes through with whitewater. Little River Falls is the biggest waterfall on Little River, although there are small slides in its course too. This hike occurred on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014. My plans were to hike the Little River Falls Trail to Martha's Falls out and back, then drive down Little River Canyon Parkway (AL Route 176), stop by each of the overlooks, hike the Beaver Pond Loop Trail, and finally, hike the Eberhart Trail from Eberhart Point to the bottom of the canyon and Little River.
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