The main reason I wanted to head up to Fort Payne for our 4th of July weekend trip, was to ride the Little River Canyon Scenic Parkway. We've been to the Canyon during the winter three years ago, so I was stoked to ride the parkway in the summer time. I think anyone that finds themselves close to the area, really must take a little spin down this beautiful road.
As one of Alabama's most scenic attractions, the Little River Canyon Parkway (Hwy. 176) forms a 22 mile scenic drive following along the Little River Canyon National Preserve. It's one of the deepest gorges in the eastern United States with an average depth of 400 feet; 700 feet at it's deepest point, and 3/4 mile wide.
There are no safe places to stop and park on the side of the road, so taking advantage of the overlooks will give you the best views of the canyon as you make your way down the parkway. The only problem I have here is the fact that some of these pull off areas are extremely broken up and very gravely, so extreme care and diligence is needed while getting on and off the road.
The first overlook is pretty much at the entrance to the parkway and gives you a straight on view of the Little River Falls, a 60 foot drop that marks the beginning of the canyon.
After snapping a few pics to mark our starting point 0f the parkway, we got back on the Glides and took off down the road. We were ready to take in some spectacular curves and gorgeous views, so we didn't want to delay our ride any longer.
The canopy of shade provided by the overhanging trees gave the impression we were on a hidden ribbon of asphalt, with the forest as our cover. The cool air skimming across my sleeveless arms felt like I was standing in front of a cool air conditioner blowing on high. The sun would shine through the trees and appear to dapple along the road in scattered shapes and clusters as we rode our way around the canyon's rim.
The further south we rode, the rockier the canyon walls became. We stopped at most of the overlooks along the way to take advantage of the amazing views and of course... take pictures.
In one particular area, you could see a neighboring overlook across a large gorge in the canyon. The cool thing about that is, even though it might be a quarter mile across, we had to travel about 5 1/2 miles by road to reach this same spot.
There are places on this parkway that plays peek a boo with the view and a riders eyes are tempted to drift over and gaze when they really need to be watching the curves or other obstacles. (Remember my Pic Of The Week - A Rock In The Road?) I felt like Mother Nature was testing my willpower as well as my discipline while my adrenaline surges just became part of the ride.
22 amazing miles later we find ourselves at the mouth of the canyon, where the Little River flows into Weiss Lake, the "Crappie Capitol of the World".
Looks like there used to be some old bridge there, but around the corner to the left going back up the river was an area full of canoes and folks camping. We were only able to see them when we crossed over a bridge on our way towards the lake.
I love riding through this area and I'm very happy we had a beautiful sunny day to enjoy it in. I know I'll be back again, but in the meantime... I'll have to pacify myself with my lingering memories. I'm just glad I took plenty of pictures to help be remember how awesome this place really is.
Riding around the south, one road at a time...