Escape the sprawling urban landscape of Atlanta by taking a series of secondary roads to Alabama’s iconic Little River Canyon, and then return via rural roads in the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Charming historic settlements along the way include the Georgia towns of Dallas, Cave Spring, and Rome.
The area features spectacular scenery, particularly from overlooks into Little River Canyon in Alabama and in the Appalachian foothills. Traffic is generally light on these backroads, and the roads are for the most part in good condition. This is overall not a difficult route, except for the road around Little River Canyon, which is exceptionally curvy with mostly blind corners due to heavy forestation.
Ralph’s Little River Canyon Cafe serves traditional fare from hot dogs and locally famous burgers to dinner plates and barbecue. It may not look like much from the outside, but the food is well worth a stop. Find it at 477 AL 35, Fort Payne, AL, (256) 845-6402.
Points of Interest
Named after previous Vice President George Dallas, Dallas was little known until several Civil War battles were fought in the area as part of the Union Army’s Atlanta Campaign. Today, Dallas is a vibrant small town, architecturally anchored by the Richardsonian Romanesque-style Paulding County Courthouse (c. 1886).
Cave Spring, GA
The town’s name is derived from its cave and spring site, which was a significant gathering place for indigenous native peoples. In the early 19th century, the town was on the path of the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Today, the town’s historic district of 12 buildings is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Little River Canyon National Preserve
Alabama SR 176 snakes its way through dense forestation along the high cliffs of Little River Canyon National Preserve. Overlooks provide panoramic vistas into the 600-foot-deep canyon’s narrow, verdant environs, which include an unusually diverse array of flora and fauna.
Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Rome is spread across seven hills like its namesake in Italy. Although originally inhabited by Native Americans, Rome was founded by the descendants of Europeans in 1834. Riding through town today, visitors are easily captivated by its vibrant historical ambiance, inviting eateries, and friendly people.