DeSoto Scout Trail

MODERATE 56 reviews
#2 of 7 trails in

DeSoto Scout Trail is a 3.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Fort Payne, Alabama that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 3.1 miles Elevation Gain: 341 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash


nature trips







wild flowers




The trail is open from DeSoto State Park(DSP) to the new "Backcountry Trailhead" on Backcountry Road 5, in Little River Canyon National Preserve (LRCNP). At that point the trail follows backcountry road 5 to Edna Hill Church. The entire trail is marked with "DST" signs, except within DSP, where it is marked with a yellow blaze. Approximately 300 more signs are to be added before November, so it will be easier to find your way. Within DSP, from the northern border going south, the DST has a great trailbed and travels along the bluff line. It meanders around a few creeks and waterfalls that flow into the River. Past Indian Falls, the DST descends to the riverside. The footbed is sand river rocks, and some huge sunken boulders as this area is in the floodplain.

19 days ago

Fun hike with a rock bluff scramble but there’s a rope to help. Beautiful rapids and a awesome waterfall. Totally by myself self on this one. I would hike this clockwise to go down the small bluff than go up it. Happy New Years

1 month ago

Challenging but pretty views! Has the trail to ourselves. Chalet trail not very well marked at all. Glad we had AllTrails, again!

9 months ago

Great weekend for a hike today (7april19). I started the trail by Indian falls and hiked in to the DeSoto Scout Trail heading south following the river. If you use the link to google maps for directions it’s going to put you in the middle of some private properties. I doubled back and stopped into the park store to check the trail location. Once on the trail the markers are prevalent. A few areas could be marked better as I ended up off trail a few times but I didn’t go far before I realized it. I followed the DST until I hit exit 1 and switched over to the Gillam loop trail to head back north to where I parked. That trails markings are crap. On the DST, It’s a lot of bouldering along the river with plenty of slippery rocks but it’s a nice atmosphere with the sounds of the rushing water. I’ll be heading back again to hit a few other trails in the park.

washed out
10 months ago

Great trail, but we only made it from Indian Falls to a little past Lodge Falls (heading downstream) before having to backtrack and go up to the Green Trail at Lodge Falls. The trail by the river was completely underwater and impassable.

Mon Oct 15 2018

Real fun trail with a fun mixture of paths.

Fri Sep 28 2018

a very awesome trail I have son the loop. Going back to do the how trail from DSP to 35falls can't wait.

Sun Sep 02 2018

it was as great. took the entire family ages 6,9,12,36,32. we all are different levels of fit and was able to do this with ease. even the dog loved it. great places to get in to cool off too

Sat Aug 04 2018

As my phone had no service and I used the trail map provided by the park, my experience was not what I was expecting. This hike was not difficult, and it was similar to the hiking in Oklahoma around Stillwater, the change in incline was less than I experience in Kansas walking to the river from my house.

Tue Jun 12 2018

The trail itself was beautiful especially by the river but there are A LOT of ticks. I highly recommend you and your dogs are treated for ticks before tackling this hike. The trail head actually begins in the state park just beyond the lodge and cabins.

Tue May 01 2018

Hiked for about an hour below the park resturant, lt was fun but challenging I. will do it again when better prepared.

Mon Apr 16 2018

Lots of trail traffic.

Fri Apr 13 2018

this trail is in various states of order. it is quite versatile, with several options for "bouldering" right next to the water, or taking an exit up to the bluff to walk along backroad 5 or along to ccc road (gillam trail is part of this). though maps show just 3 exits, there are actually 6 well marked exits all the way down to the river mouthing into the other fork near backroad 5 for a much longer and more scenic hike. not well frequented, lost the trail a few times but easy to follow the river and bluff. it seems the trails haven't been tracked for a while but there are some online efforts to update the maps and trail markings. blissful solitude, just me and the birds.

Fri Mar 23 2018

this trail was a relaxing walk with a great view.

Wed Mar 21 2018

this trail was a relaxing walk with a great view.

Sun Jul 30 2017

We use the directions on this app and it took us to a dad in but there are signs stating where the De Soto scout chill is and when it dead ends there's a gate and it's a little sign the trailers full of ticks infested overgrown but beautiful along side the river in a lot of rocks and some climbing see why it was rated hard but it was worth it.

Sun Jun 25 2017


Thu Jun 01 2017

Don't waste your time doing the trail from exit 2 to exit 3 along the river, unless you like boulder hopping through tick-infested, overgrown trails.

Sun May 28 2017

The app maps the Gillian trail not the DST, though the two are the same in many areas. Definitely some rocks and obstacles to deal with but that is what makes it fun. Saturday morning on Memorial Day weekend and we didn't see another human on the trail. Loved it!

Fri Mar 31 2017

Great section of the trail to hike through Desoto State Park.

Mon Feb 20 2017

Really really tough trail. Very scenic but dangerous. Both times we've been, April 2016 and November 2016 the trail wasn't very well maintained. We tried to clear it as we went. In November we only did a short portion of the trail to show our friends we had brought on that trip the river, which was dry sadly. But in April when it was just me and my husband we went a LONG way. It was gorgeous but it was more like rock climbing that actual hiking. The river was flowing in April and if we had not had hiking poles we probably would have went swimming. Our legs were so sore the next day! We finally came to a point in the trail that we were crawling over monstrous rocks and had to turn around for fear of injury. It was beautiful but some of the switchbacks were very very nerve racking! Not for the faint of heart. And make sure you have long pants on and hiking shoes that support your ankles!

Fri Nov 25 2016

Horrible trail. Thorns scratched legs the whole time. Became so indistinguishable I had to turn around maybe a mile and a half to two miles in rather than wander uncertainly through the tangled woods. It was okay for the first mile. I started from the southern terminus.

Sat Nov 05 2016

This was our favorite trail in the Vicinity of Little River Canyon National Preserve. That isn't exactly saying a lot however, because the trails in the area are mostly short out and back jaunts to lookouts or waterfalls. We hiked this in early November, and saw no others on the trail, and there was scant evidence of recent human activity. The trail follows the Little River for the most part. There are several places that require crawling over boulders and such, so it is not a good hike for small or frail dogs. Our Vizsla did pretty well, but got a few cuts and bruises from thorny vines and boulder crawls. Beware there are a lot of ticks, we found them on ourselves and our dog. The river was not running due to severe drought, but on this section it is large clear pool after large clear pool and juvenile trout could be seen in the larger pools. It is a very pretty hike. The only steep climbs were into and out of the canyon, and should be manageable by anyone that is reasonably fit. There are a lot of swimming holes, and even in the drought conditions the water was clear and probably ok for swimming. Edit: I gave the hike four stars, not sure why it is only showing two.

Sat Aug 13 2016

The trailhead isn't located where the app says it is

Tue Jun 30 2015

The backcountry camping at LRC has been closed since Oct 2014 - and, it does clearly state that. Other than that, there has always been NO camping in the canyon... Drove into the upper section of DST - signs lead thru residential area, onto a gravel road (bear to the right) - 1st option is DST x4. I drove down quite a ways further just to explore - many do not offer parking options. And, the road was pretty rutted and went thru some BIG puddles - keep that in mind if you do not have a high clearance vehicle - had not had a significant rainfall in days prior to my visit. In the past, I just entered trail at Desoto State Park and hiked up or down river. Had some nice encounters with some deer, and saved a toad from being eaten by a rat snake (who then went towards me).

Mon May 25 2015

Good, did a short section from the park motel. Lots of mountain laurel in bloom but rhododendron mostly faded.

Wed Apr 01 2015

I just hiked all 14 miles this past weekend and I wish I had known a few things before going. First- there is NO backcountry camping in Little River Canyon National Preserve. No matter what their website says to the contrary when we got there we were told in no uncertain terms that we could not camp (even though the map they gave us had marked campsites...) there were signs at the trailheads and at the former campsites reiterating that camping was not allowed. They said they did not know when/if backcountry camping would resume. This is particularly sad because we saw evidence on the trail that people are going back there and not respecting the environment and meanwhile people who would enjoy and take care of the area aren't allowed to pitch a tent. Second, without camping the southern part of the trail is pretty much not worth doing. For most of it you are simply walking along backcountry road 5. There were some pretty parts but nothing compared to the northern section and there are other trails in Desoto State Park that are nicer than the lower section of the Scout trail. Other than that the trail is beautiful but it either needs to be maintained and truly revitalized or it needs to not be billed as 16 miles (the northmost 2 miles are on private property, so now it is really 14 miles which the signs concurred). I am suspect even of the 14 miles because our GPS and energy was quite different from the posted mileage signs. I'm giving it only three stars because the southern portion was poor. The northern section I would give five stars. Desoto State Park also has two backcountry sites that are VERY easy to get to (I think less than a mile in to each) which means if you want to camp away from others it's easy to do and you can still go on lots of fun day hikes with a lighter pack. The Never Never Land shelter is the nicer of the two sites alongside a seasonal spring.

Sat Oct 11 2014

Desoto State park is a beautiful place to hike all of the trails were wonderful.

Sat Jul 19 2014

There really are 2 DST trails hiked them both. The south section is really not revitalized and winds around a road bed with some primitive camping. The north side is revitalized and is a great hike. Some nice ascents it follows the river. Beautiful scenery some swimming holes all round great hike. We followed the signs off the highway and cut into where the north section abs south section begin and end. He north section is by far the best hike.

Load More