The canyon trail begins at Rainbow Falls just below the store and soda fountain. A wooden stairway leads down into the heart of the canyon alongside a moss-covered sandstone wall. At the bottom of the stairs, hikers veer right and continue along a dirt path which follows beside Dismals Branch. Continuing along the trail, you will enter a crack formed by a massive earthquake and walk atop a wooden bridge through the sandstone cavern, then emerge into the green grotto with high sandstone walls. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the trail guide, as it will provide great information about various sites throughout the hike.
Next you will arrive at Indian Head rock. Again veer right to continue on the west side of the branch and towards Temple Cave. Paleo Indians called the bluff shelter home about 10,000 years ago. A round hole in the massive rock at the front of the cave was used for grinding corn and wheat. You will then pass the fishing hole and continue along the trail which follows beneath the steep canyon walls. At the south end, the trail will curve, crossing the creek and then turn south.
At the first bend you will reach the Champion tree, a 360 year old Canadian hemlock towering 138 feet above the canopy floor. With a crown spread of 50 feet and based circumference of over 8 feet, the tree dwarfs its counterparts in the wood scape. Just north along the trail is the Weeping Bluff, said to contain the face of Indian Maiden. Continuing you will reach a point where the trail spurs. The side trails are clearly marked and leads to the Secret Falls; one trail leading to the top of the falls, the other to the bottom.
A beautiful falls at roughly 30 feet high, feed with water from an underground stream just above the falls. Back at the main trail, you will cross Dismals Branch back to the west side and walk along the path you used previously. This is the only section of the trail that has two way traffic. Ahead on the right you will come to the Dance Hall once used by the Chickasaw Indians for shelter. It is accessed by crossing concrete pads in the creek; and after viewing, you will return along the same path. Continuing along the path, you will reach the Witch’s Cavern. Don’t miss the turn right before the trail ends in the branch. It’s a narrow opening with a sandy floor. This area has a diverse array of ferns and moss.
As you reach the end of the rock covered area, don’t miss the right turn to the cavern underneath Rainbow Falls. The view is great and it’s a cool place to rest before making the climb out of the canyon. Overall the hike is moderate and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
From I-22 and Hamilton, Alabama, take US-43 North through Hackleburg, Alabama for 20 miles. Turn left onto County Road 8 for 1 mile. The park entrance is on the left.