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Alabama Trails

Huntsville, AL: DeSoto Falls

This trio of trails tours the rim of a ravine down to a waterfall that plunges 104-feet into an aquamarine pool feeding DeSoto Falls Lake.

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Accessed by a variety of short trails, DeSoto Falls is actually a series of three small waterfalls named for the Spanish explorer who ‘discovered’ them. All three of the approaches (see map and descriptions below) offer a unique perspective on the falls and a different way to explore the area.

DeSoto Falls via the Canyon Floor

This 1.28-mile out-and-back along the canyon floor is normally traveled by fisherman and rock climbers, and it offers hikers seldom-seen views of DeSoto Falls. The hike leads to the aquamarine plunge pools of DeSoto Falls, meandering through the lush, ecologically diverse environment of the canyon floor. Be ready to scramble over rocks and climb over fallen trees while exploring spectacular views of the canyon walls.

DeSoto Falls Canyon Rim Overlook

For a shorter hike (0.68 miles roundtrip) that offers its own panoramic views of the falls and pools, take the DeSoto Falls Canyon Rim trail. This lesser traveled route along the rim of the canyon, passes by lichen, moss, huge boulders, as well as views of the canyon and river below.

DeSoto Falls Overlook

For a quick jaunt to the falls overlook, take the paved walkway that begins near man made DeSoto Lake. This popular area offers a variety of picnic spots and canoeing on the lake.

–Mapped by Scott Sanders,


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 3.5



Location: 34.551705, -85.596239

The DeSoto Falls Canyon Rim Overlook trail begins here.


Location: 34.548962, -85.593051

The trail ends at an overlook.


Location: 34.551712, -85.596281

The DeSoto Canyon Floor trail begins at a parking area pull-off on the road down to Desoto Falls Lake (look for the “no camping” sign). The trail runs downhill along the power line and to the left, below the boulders.


Location: 34.550775, -85.597824

From a boulder field, turn left onto the old dirt path.


Location: 34.549201, -85.596789

Turn left at an easy-to-miss three way junction and begin following the river east towards the Falls. Pay close attention to the trail on the return trip, or you may over shoot this turn.


Location: 34.549172, -85.591782

The trail ends at the overlook point.


Location: 34.549249, -85.590127

Viewing area at top of DeSoto Falls.


Location: 34.549205, -85.590271

Upper DeSoto Falls


Location: 34.549196, -85.590411

Check out the views from the top of DeSoto Falls.

DeSoto Falls from Canyon Rim

Location: 34.548917, -85.593072

Parking Area

Location: 34.551807, -85.596204

The DeSoto Falls Canyon Rim Overlook trail and the DeSoto Falls Canyon Floor trail are accessed from this parking area pull-off. The Canyon Rim Overlook is the more obvious trail, while the Canyon Floor trail resembles a rock climbing trail and requires some searching.

Beginning of the Canyon Rim

Location: 34.551352, -85.597143

Continue descending. Ahead, the narrow hiker’s trail joins a dirt road.

Little River

Location: 34.548975, -85.595974

Canyon Cliffs

Location: 34.547906, -85.594032

Little River View

Location: 34.548454, -85.59341

DeSoto Falls

Location: 34.549143, -85.591822

Boulders Below the Rim

Location: 34.55112, -85.596698

Canyon Rim

Location: 34.550391, -85.596212

Little River View

Location: 34.549472, -85.594866

Start of the Trail

Location: 34.549417, -85.589982

Dam at DeSoto Falls

Location: 34.549167, -85.590084

DeSoto Falls

Location: 34.549132, -85.590883