This post is part of a series on the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, a 10-month, 15,000 mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
Choosing the #1 pet friendly destination in each state was the hard part – now we’re visiting each location, and sharing our experiences with you. The purpose of this grand adventure is to celebrate the bonds that grow and the beautiful moments we collect when we travel with our pets. We hope you’ll hop aboard and join us vicariously here on the blog and on social media by following the #pawsomememories hashtag. Waggin’ trails!
On a flat-top mountain in northeastern Alabama, the Little River has been plugging away for eons – chiseling the sandstone and etching a path. Millions of years have swept by, and the cliffs now soar 500 feet above the water’s surface. Yes, this river with the unassuming name has carved one of the deepest and most extensive canyons east of the Mississippi.
The Little River Canyon National Preserve was established in 1992 and protects more than 15,000 acres, from the confluence of the east and west forks, to Little River Falls where the canyon begins, down to the mouth of the canyon where the river empties into Weiss Lake. It’s a rugged landscape of rock, forest, and rushing water that has changed little by little since the beginning of time.
The Preserve is managed by the National Park Service, and our first stop was at the visitor center to get the lay of the land and their suggestions for activities the dogs would enjoy. The staff was very knowledgable and friendly, and we were delighted to learn that pets are even welcome in the building! This was the first time Ty and Buster have been able to join us in the theater, so we all enjoyed the 20-minute movie about the park together. (Hey dogs, there are treats at the information counter, so be sure to give them a sniff.)
Rules for Pets at the Little River Canyon National Preserve
Pets must always be on leash and cannot be left unattended
Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly
Pets are welcome throughout the park, in the visitor center, and on all trails
There are a wide variety of recreational opportunities available here, including swimming, fishing, rock climbing, hiking, biking, and whitewater paddling, but we opted for something a bit less strenuous and made our way to the scenic drive. This 11-mile route hugs the west rim, and it’s numerous overlooks provide spectacular views of the canyon and cliffs.
It’s hard to imagine a “bad” time to see the canyon, but Spring is especially enchanting with the swollen river raging, the waterfalls dancing, and the trees and flowers coming to life.
There are two trails from the canyon rim down to the river, but both sounded more ambitious than our senior dogs would want to tackle. Lower Two Mile Trail is just 1/10 of a mile long, but it’s very steep and difficult. The three-quarter mile dirt trail from Eberhart Point has several switchbacks, and we were told that the hike down is moderate-to-hard, and getting back up can be very strenuous. For a leisurely hike try Beaver Pond Trail, an easy 1.24-mile loop that leads you through the woods to a pond dammed by beavers.
The Preserve is just the kind of place we love to pack a picnic, grab our hammocks, and spend the day watching for wildlife. Black bears, deer, squirrels, rabbits, bats, snakes, bobcats, beavers, and many types of birds call the Preserve home. We’re just visitors in their backyard, so keep a respectful distance and don’t let your dog disturb their activities.
Visiting the top pet friendly attractions in the U.S. with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!