Little River Canyon National Preserve | KAYAKING AND CANOEING

Little River Canyon National Preserve can be divided into two sections—the Wildlife Management Area (aka “the backcountry”) north of the Little River Falls and the Canyon Area below the falls. For kayakers and canoeists, this is a very important division. The river flowing through the backcountry section is much tamer than the river below the falls. Rapids up to a Class 3 can be navigated by beginning and intermediate kayakers and canoeists. Below the falls, however, lies water for only the most experienced kayaker, with nearly continuous Class 4, 5 and 6 rapids for the first three miles. In fact, going over Little River Falls is the preferred way to enter the water! The U. S. Olympic Kayaking Team has trained on this section in the past.

Another aspect of the Little River that differs from many other rivers is that it is mainly a winter/spring river, meaning there is only enough water to navigate the river from November through April, the rainy season for the area (the winter months are the best). Wet suits are a must for most of the year. Occasional summer downpours provides sporadic opportunities, but if you must plan your trip well in advance, the best bet for water is the winter time. According to a park Ranger, December is the wettest month in Alabama.

I did not attempt to kayak the Little River during my December visit mainly because I assumed kayaking was a summer sport and never thought to include it in my plans. I may come back at some point and kayak the river in the backcountry, but attempting the Canyon Area is way beyond my skill level, at least the few miles directly below the falls—aptly named the Suicide Section. I was, however, able to talk in detail to a park Ranger about both the upper and lower sections of the river and can give general advice on how to proceed.

Kayaking the Canyon Area

Kayaking and Canoeing the Wildlife Management Area

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Last updated on February 21, 2020
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