The Legend of Littlefoot in Alabama's Little River Canyon

Little River Canyon, located atop northeast Alabama’s Lookout Mountain, was carved out by the river after thousands of years and is one of the deepest canyons in this part of the United States.
 
A 23-mile drive runs along the canyon’s rim that offers spectacular views into the 700-foot-deep gorge. The drive features several stop-off points where you can pull over and get photographs.
 
You’ll find three major waterfalls in Little River Canyon, beginning with Little River Falls, located off Highway 35 next to the bridge separating the town of Gaylesville from Fort Payne. This is your first stop on a scenic tour entering from the north. Next is DeSoto Falls, which is located on the West Fork of the river and is 104 feet high. Grace’s High Falls is the last of the major three waterfalls and is Alabama’s highest, at 133 feet.
 
Besides the beautiful falls, visitors discover that Little River Canyon is a hiker’s delight with beautiful natural forests and sandstone cliffs towering 600 feet above the canyon floor. There are several hiking trails you can take along the edges of the canyon to get some great views of the entire canyon area. Eberhart Point is the best starting place for hiking down to Pine Tree Hole at the bottom of the canyon. The more adventurous can even put in there for some whitewater rafting fun.
 
As visitors discover, the Little River Canyon area is a land of beauty, but also legends. One of the most interesting local stories is about Littlefoot. Several years ago, a small petting zoo was in operation near Little River Canyon. The family running the zoo ran into financial difficulties and ended up closing. The remaining animals were being moved to another facility when an escape occurred. A small family of monkeys took advantage of an open transport cage and ran off into the woods. Then the reports started.
 
As the legend goes, a group of rafters noticed something moving in the trees and that it appeared to be following them down the river. A Cub Scout troop had pinecones playfully thrown at them from the treetops. A group of hikers left their backpacks along the riverbank and returned to find their snacks missing and several small footprints in the surrounding mud. A retired engineer from Huntsville took a blurry photo of a small hairy figure walking upright and dragging what appeared to be an Igloo cooler. These occurrences soon became known as Littlefoot sightings. So, when hiking Little River Canyon, remember to keep one eye on the tree branches and the other on your snacks.
 
DeSoto State Park is located eight miles northeast of Fort Payne. One visit and it’s easy to see why DeSoto was voted as one of America’s Top 10 State Parks by Camping Life magazine. The park spreads over 3,500 acres along the outer ridge of Lookout Mountain and embraces some of the state’s most dazzling natural wonders.
 
DeSoto State Park has 12 miles of hiking trails. The Azalea Cascade Boardwalk Trail offers a 360-yard walk designed for hikers of all experience levels. There is a 20-foot octagon deck at the end of the trail that overlooks a natural pool created by the Azalea Cascade. The area was named for the beautiful wild azaleas that bloom here in mid-April.
 

 

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