Northeast Alabama has a number of waterfall surprises. One location that is a gem is Little River Canyon National Preserve. It’s a beautiful place to visit. The park is not as big as, let’s say, other canyons. Still, there is a 23 mile parkway/road that follows the canyon, providing awesome views.
The main waterfall is Little River Falls, which doesn’t require much hiking and is very close to a main parking area. Martha’s Falls requires a hike that starts at Little River Falls. On the national park service map, there does seem to be another trailhead to Martha’s Falls, but I don’t see a parking area there. The hike is 1 mile one-way, and I recorded it as being a moderate hike, which means there may have been some elevation change, but it wasn’t overly strenuous.
Martha’s Falls is wide, which is the reason that this waterfall is worthwhile to visit. It’s not tall, though. I have read that this waterfall, which used to be called Little Falls, is a popular swimming spot on warm spring and summer days. I visited in early January, which meant that the parking area was not busy at all. The NPS mentions that on those spring/summer days, the parking area can fill very quickly.
In the park, there is also a much narrower but taller waterfall, Grace’s High Falls. DeSoto State Park is also very close by, and there are numerous waterfalls in the park, with the most impressive being DeSoto Falls.
- If driving along I-59, you could either take exit 218 or 222 to get to the falls. I think I took exit 222 as I was heading south, and turned left onto US-11.
- Drive along US-11 to the intersection of US-11 and AL-35. Turn left onto AL-35, and then turn left after a few blocks to stay on AL-35.
- Once on this route, it’s a pretty easy drive to the falls. The parking area for the falls is found on AL-35 just after the intersection with AL-176 (which is the scenic drive). The signage for the falls makes it relatively difficult to miss.
- At the parking area, you can see Little River Falls and then follow the Little River Falls trail south to Martha’s Falls.
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 2 miles round trip
Where in the World is Martha’s Falls?