Little Grand Canyon Overview
Over time, erosion has carved this deep box canyon exposing the majestic bluffs of the Little Grand Canyon. A cool and lush bottomland habitat thrives on the canyon floor. Along the upper portions of the trail Hikers encounter expansive views of the colorful cliffs, the Big Muddy River and the Mississippi River floodplain. The Little Grand Canyon floor showcases seasonal waterfalls, large sandstone overhangs and towering beech and sycamore trees.
In 1980 the Little Grand Canyon was designated a National Natural Landmark due to its unique ecological and geological features. The area contains a variety of natural communities, including upland forest, dry hill prairies and sandstone outcroppings, plus an extensive floodplain ecosystem at the bottom of the canyon.
The Little Grand canyon trail consists of a 2.9-mile loop. However, shorter and less strenuous paths lead to scenic overlooks before the trail descends into the canyon. You can reach these vistas by taking either leg of the trail leading from the parking lot. A unique feature of this trail is that both the approach and exit from the canyon is by steps carved into the rocky creek beds.
Length: 2.9 miles
Travel Time: 3 ½ - 4 hours
Surface Type: Asphalt and dirt
Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult
Portions of the trail require moderate climbing.
Known for its plant and animal diversity, The Little Grand canyon is also a haven for many migratory songbirds during the spring and fall. Year round residents include raccoon, mink, fox, deer and bobcat along with several birds, amphibians and reptiles. The rock ledges serve as snake dens for the copperhead, cottonmouth, and timber rattler, along with a few nonpoisonous species. From the Little Grand Canyon scenic overlooks, turkey vultures and hawks are often seen soaring over the treetops.
Pomona Natural Bridge, Cedar Lake, LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area, Clear Springs Wilderness and Bald Knob Wilderness.
Access: From Murphysboro, take Highway 127 south 6 miles to Etherton Rd.; then west 6.4 miles.*From Alto Pass, take Highway 127 north 8 miles to Etherton Rd.; then west 6.4 miles. *From Murphysboro Work Center office, take 20thStreet south 1.5 miles to Hickory Ridge Rd.; then south 5.5 miles to the site.
* At this point follow the directional signs.
Rember to Leave no Trace