Whitewater Paddling is a popular and well-known activity on the waters of the mainstem Coosa below Jordan Dam near Wetumpka. The Coosa Whitewater Festival is a nationally sponsored event held every May for the past 15 years.
The Coosa River basin falls within the heavily used Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia.
Little River Canyon National Preserve, located in northeast Alabama near Ft. Payne, protects the nation’s longest mountaintop river, which flows for almost its entire length down the middle of Lookout Mountain. The Little River Canyon is considered one of the Southeast’s deepest canyons as it winds its way from the headwaters in Georgia before exiting the mountain and emptying into Weiss Lake near Leesburg, Alabama.
The preserve protects the natural, scenic, recreational, and cultural resources of the Little River Canyon and covers 14,000 acres primarily along the canyon and Little River. The federal government owns 10,338 acres of the Preserve. The preserve protects 35 miles of the Little River and its network of feeder streams. It was established in October 21, 1992.
The canyon is made up of soft sandstone at the edge of the Cumberland Plateau. The canyon’s elevations range from 1,752 feet to 560 feet above sea level. From the rim of the canyon to the water measures as high as 900 feet, and averages about 600 feet. The plateau-like surface of Lookout Mountain, which forms the eastern boundary of the Cumberland Plateau section of the Appalachian Highlands, results from an erosion-resistant layer of sandstone on the mountain’s top. Streams tend to cut vertically in such hard rock leading to the formation of canyons along the joint structures.
Erosion has created a variety of superlative rock expanses, benches, and bluffs that create a unique environment for several rare and endangered species. The green pitcher plant (Sarracenia oreophila), Kral’s water plantain (Sagittaria secundifolia), and the blue shiner (Cyprinella caeruleus) are found within the preserve. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists seven other threatened or endangered species as possibly occurring within the Preserve. Recreational pursuits include, backpacking, kayaking and climbing. Hunting, fishing, and trapping are permitted under applicable state and federal laws and seasons.
DeSoto State Park, sits within the boundaries of the Little River Canyon Preserve. The park offers a resort lodge and restaurant, rental cabins, campgrounds and even a pool and tennis courts managed by the Alabama state park system.
Talladega National Forest
On July 17, 1936, President Roosevelt, by proclamation, created the Talladega National Forest out of the Talladega and Oakmulgee Purchase Units. The Talladega National Forest, at one time, consisted of four ranger districts: Oakmulgee or the Cahaba Working Circle, Tuscaloosa or the Pondville Working Circle, Shoal Creek and Talladega. The Talladega Unit was divided into two districts October 1, 1945, with the northern district, Shoal Creek Ranger District, headquartered in Heflin. Thirty percent of the Shoal Creek/Talladega land was cut-over, cultivated and vacated farmland. (National Forest Service Website)
Though the southern reaches of the Appalachian Trail starts in Georgia, the southern reach of the Appalachian Mountains actually begins in Alabama. The southern edge of the Appalachians rests in the Talledega Division of the Talladega National Forest. The area consists of rugged mountains, forests, waterfalls, and streams. The tiny Cheaha Wilderness preserves a portion of this natural wealth near Rebecca Mountain. Many believe more of this region strongly deserves such protection.
Cheaha Wilderness 7,245 acres