The year was 1540 and Hernando Desoto and his Army of Spanish Conquistadors were on their way down the Chattooga River heading toward Cedar Bluff, Alabama. On June 4th, 1540 they arrived and camped for almost a month on an island. It was soon named McCoy’s island, ‘Chiaha” was the name given by Desoto’s historians.
As they arrived they found the beauty of the two rivers and the Coosa valley to be very pleasing. They decided to rest at McCoy’s Island to heal the men and horses. It was also very abundant in food and the perfect camp after a long hard journey through the Appalachian Mountains. A journey that was very difficult and a challenge for even the most experienced warrior!
There were rumors of gold to be found in the north and west hills of Lookout Mountain. So Desoto decides to send a small army of men led by lieutenant Vilabo and Silva. They departed on June 1570 and passed between Menlo, Georgia and Blanche, Alabama toward Desoto Falls near Mentone, Alabama! They decided to camp for a few days at the 104 foot waterfalls. It is located on the west fork of little river on Lookout Mountain.
For several days the troops searched the area for gold and other treasures and then proceeded to pass through Big Wills to Henagar Alabama. Here they found south Sauty Creek and followed it all the way to Buck’s Pocket State Park. It is said that the men were blown away by the view from point rock and did not find gold but found iron Oxide high in the cliffs around Buck’s Pocket! There is no historical evidence that says they went any further than Buck’s pocket or ever saw the Tennessee River!
From this point the party headed back toward McCoy’s Island and passed through the town of Sand Rock, Alabama. The men returned to Chiaha (McCoy’s Island) near Hokes Bluff. They arrived to discover that Desoto and the main party had set trail June 28, 1540 down the Coosa River. Desoto had left a few wounded men behind to wait for the Sand mountain crew to return. They departed to catch up with Desoto and arrived on June 18, 1540 only two days behind Desoto’s arrival on July 16, 1540. They camped at the mouth of the Talladega creek in Talladega County.
Many people say that Desoto discovered the falls but there is evidence that the area was used by Indians and even the Welsh! Located near 325 feet above little river are three caves that are interconnected by openings between the caverns. They are protected by the cliff and only a narrow trail leads the way to the Welsh caves. It is rumored that only a few men could fight off an army of troops. The trail was so narrow that only one man could pass at a time.
It is believed that the Welsh traveled to the New World over 300 years before Columbus and made 3 trips. They sailed into Mobile Bay and traveled to Lookout Mountain. The Indians of the time did not possess the skill of excavation and it is believed that the Welsh came and built the caves high above little river. There were also six skeletons found wearing brass armor with the Welsh coat of arms.
Desoto falls is an awesome waterfalls and seeing it in person is inspiring and beautiful. To see the foliage in the fall is breath taken and colors are super vibrant. I could not imagine what it would have looked like 500 years ago. The area is still very preserved and has an abundant supply of wildlife.
In the 1920’s Arthur Abernathy Miller and self taught electrical engineer built a twenty-foot high damn above the falls. Author built the damn to supply power to his hydroelectric generator on the west side of the gorge. There is still a square concrete slab where the generator one was. It supplied power for fort Payne, Collinsville, Mentone, valley head, Alabama and Menlo Georgia.. If it wasn’t for Miller’s genius many people in the area would have been without power.
Desoto State Park is one of Alabama most beautiful areas and has many things to do year around. They have cabins, chalets, swimming, picnic area, hiking trails, and many special events. You can’t forget all the waterfalls in the area either: Indian falls, Azalea falls, laurel, lost falls, Lodge Falls, and of course Desoto Falls! You could spend a week in Desoto state park just looking at waterfalls and hiking. Little river falls and many other falls around Little River Canyon are just a short drive away!
There are a few great trails, Wildflower trail that is perfect for you flower lovers. It is only 0.49 and begins and ends at the lodge! Looking for a longer hike you can take Laurel Creek Loop and is a total of 2.9 miles long. This is the perfect trail for you waterfall lovers and passes by laurel falls, lost Falls and azalea cascade. When it is dry you may not find Lost falls so be prepared! It also starts and ends at the same place making it a great trail for you hikers.
They have an awesome camping area with 58 water and electric sites and two comfort stations with restrooms with hot showers. You will want to make reservations, first come first serve. They also have 20 primitive camping spots and offer a group rate and a single person is $5.35 as of 2008. It is $3 per person with the group rate! You can also use the bathrooms and showers!
Need food, you have the Desoto State Park Mountain Inn cooking all the home classics. There are also places in Mentone like Cragsmere Manna Restaurant and Dessie’s Country Chef, just like mom used to make!
While you are in the area you must check out Little River Canyon National Preserve with great 700 foot cliffs and waterfalls along Lookout Mountain. Little River is a rock climbers paradise and also has white water for you water ducks out there. Come to Alabama and see the beauty of the mountain and lose yourself into nature. If you come in the winter time be sure to check out Cloudmont Ski and Golf. They start blowing Alabama snow as soon as it gets 28 degrees and the area gets an annual snowfall of 12 inches. Who would have ever thought it, Alabama snow!
Thanks for reading about Desoto Falls on Lookout Mountain. Come see Alabama and understand why they call it “Alabama the Beautiful!”
DeSoto State Park
DeSoto State Park is one of Alabama’s most popular parks. The 3,500 acre park atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama offers beautiful mountain scenery including woodlands, streams, and waterfalls. The scenic Little River runs through the park. DeSoto State Park’s original facilities were constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) from native stone and logs. The park offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy.
The park has more than 20 miles of hiking trails, some of which are also open to bicyclists. Trails vary in difficulty from easy to strenuous. The Azalea Cascade Trail and the Wildflower Trail are particularly scenic. The Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail is handicapped accessible. This trail provides people of all abilities access into a beautiful area of hardwoods and azaleas and culminates in a lookout deck over the Azalea Cascade.
A number of scenic waterfalls are located in DeSoto State Park. There are trails leading to Laurel Falls, Indian Falls, Lodge Falls, and Lost Falls. Many of the smaller falls in the park are dry during the summer months. DeSoto Falls is located six miles upriver from the main part of the park. At DeSoto Falls the Little River drops over 100 feet into a gorge. The dam above the falls was built in the 1920s to provide power to the area. This dam was Alabama’s first hydro-electric dam.
Fishing is allowed in the Little River above the dam at DeSoto Falls. Fly-fishing is popular with anglers looking for bluegill and redeye bass. Swimming and wading is allowed in the Little River. The park’s Olympic sized swimming pool is open during the summer season, with life guards provided. Some other park amenities include a playground, campground, picnic areas, a country store, and a nature center with exhibits and live animals.
The park’s Mountain Inn Restaurant, overlooking the Little River, is located in the original stone lodge built by the CCC. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The seafood buffet offered on Friday nights is popular with visitors. A Saturday night buffet is offered seasonally from April through November, and there is a Sunday lunch buffet with salad bar year round.
DeSoto State Park is located on County Road 89, approximately eight miles northeast of Fort Payne, Alabama. The day use areas of the park are open daily from 7am to sundown. From its beautiful spring wildflowers to its spectacular fall colors, DeSoto State Park offers scenic beauty year round.
In the 1880’s about the time that deforestation occurred here, a plate armor was discovered somewhere in this section. The Falls was named after Hernando DeSoto who, along with his men, stayed in the mountains nearby in 1541. An intact sword was also found here from Desoto’s expedition at the King site of Rome, Georgia.
The trail starts at the parking lot where you will find a kiosk with a brown-colored roof. The pathway is covered with gravel as it moves down to make a brief left curve. Pacing right, you will see an area with grills and picnic tables where on the left of this is Frogtown Creek. A clear mountain stream runs through at this spot. Continue the hike to about.1 mile on this footpath until in turns left on a paved road which leads you to cross Frogtown Creek’s bridge. A campsite can be found on the left just after the bridge.
Move forward the footpath and cross the hand-railed wooden structure where the trail splits at a marker explaining the history of Desoto Falls and how it got its name. Take a left turn to a switchback towards the Lower falls until a large rock outcrop. Then the path swerves right and makes and ascent to a viewing platform underneath the falls. After indulging in this refreshing scene, set forth to another bridge and continue straight to an old logging road.
Move past a wide river floodplain on the right and pace forth near a tributary that joins Frogtown Creek on the right section. Expect an ascent from this path moving forward as the trail follows a series of easy switchbacks. The riverside along the path is clustered with rhododendron as you continue pacing forth. Some sections in between the rhododendron gaps give you a peek at the cascading water downstream.
Continue setting forth into the hike approximately 1.4 miles at it until you cross a bridge. With the waterfalls on the left of this bridge, the scenic view offers calmness. Off from this bridge and pace forward to a Forest Service marker. Take a left from here and climb up to a viewing deck. The magnificent waterfalls drop from the center of the ledge as it eventually flows to a small clear pond below. This marks the end of the trail. On your way back, just follow the same footpath where you came from and back to the trailhead.
Lookout Mountain Alabama
Outdoor adventurers will find plenty of exciting activities on Lookout Mountain, Alabama. Located in the northeastern corner of the state along its border with Georgia and Tennessee, this area has long been known for its scenic beauty and recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, golf, rock climbing, rappelling, canoeing, and hang gliding in the area. Here are the specifics to guide visitors to their favorite outdoor pursuits.
DeSoto State Park preserves 3,500 acres of wilderness atop Lookout Mountain. Visitors can enjoy 20 miles of hiking trails including the scenic Azalea Cascade Trail, the Wildflower Trail, and the Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail. The Little River runs through the park, and anglers can enjoy fly fishing above the dam at DeSoto Falls. Swimming is allowed in the river, and there is also a pool in the park. DeSoto State Park is on County Road 89, eight miles northeast of Fort Payne.
Popular outdoor activities at Little River Canyon National Preserve include hiking, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding, and whitewater rafting and kayaking. Parts of the Little River running through the canyon have Class III to Class IV rapids, so the river is recommended for expert paddlers. Canyon Rim Drive provides spectacular view of the canyon.
Little River Canyon Center, adjacent to Little River Canyon National Preserve, is operated by Jacksonville State University in partnership with the National Park Service. The center offers field school activities including hikes and wilderness survival classes. Pre-registration is required for many of their activities.