As much as I love living along the Gulf Coast, it is wonderful to take the opportunity every now and then to explore more of our beautiful state. This weekend, my aunt and I decided take my Transit Connect van to check out a few of the many waterfalls that are so abundant in Alabama when you wander north of the coast. You can see all of the beautiful pictures I took on this Alabama waterfalls road trip on my photography website gallery Alabama Waterfalls. We only went to three on this trip, but I definitely have more on my bucket list (25 of the best Waterfalls to Visit in Alabama.)
Our first stop was Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL. We nearly crossed this one off our list because we had been told that it was highly commercialized and not great if you were looking for an outdoor adventure in a natural environment. I’m so glad we went!
While there is a portion of the area that has an amusement park atmosphere, the campground and trails that are managed by the city of Gadsden are an excellent blend of well-maintained walking trails, and more rugged and undeveloped trails through the gorge. We found ourselves on one of the more challenging trails. Walking the entire loop through the gorge and behind the falls took us about 3 hours. The rocks and trees seemed to vibrate with the sound of the cascading falls even at a distance. Beneath the falls, the atmosphere was mystical. I was exhausted by the time we got there, but the drop in temperature and cool mist revived me. I could have stayed for hours.
It was a marvelous adventure, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures because everything was so beautiful and peaceful. There were some places where we lost the trail, but that was all part of the challenge. I did have one scary moment when I nearly lost my camera while trying to climb up a slick boulder. Fortunately, my camera and I both came out in one piece. I think I’m going to invest in some hiking shoes and a backpack before my next adventure. I really regretted not carrying water or a snack with me because I thought the walk would be short.
There is a sad legend of an Indian maiden who leapt to her death to avoid an unwanted marriage attached to the name of the falls. As you approach the opening of the cavern, you will find a statue of Princess Noccalula looking down upon you.
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Little River Falls
These falls didn’t disappoint, either. This part of the state has had a lot of rainfall over the past few weeks, so the water was flowing at a tremendous pace. Little River Canyon National Preserve is well maintained with even walking surfaces, excellent boardwalks and plenty or handrails which I definitely made use of as my knees and ankles had not yet recovered from the hike through the woods at Noccalula. We could easily have spent hours exploring the walking trails and swimming in the river beyond the falls at this beautiful forest. Since I’m not on vacation and this was just a quick road trip, we settled for a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk connected to the overlook. I’d like to visit again one day soon and check out more of the plants and animals that call this preserve home. We opted to stay overnight in Ft. Payne and hit Desoto Falls the next morning.
No Alabama waterfalls road trip would be complete with a visit here. I have been to Desoto Falls before, and they did not disappoint. The river before the falls was inviting. We arrived at about 9 in the morning after a delay due to road construction on the way into the park. There were several vehicles there unloading kayaks and I think that would have been great fun. There is a dam system before the falls that is used for hydroelectric power, and the water level behind the dam was lower than the dam wall, so there was little risk of the kayaks being swept into the canyon. The falls here are in two stages. The first are cascades just below the dam, and the second is tremendous blast of water that pours into the canyon far below. Unfortunately the path along the canyon rim ends in a rock wall just short of being able to get a really good picture of the water pouring into the canyon. It is still worth the visit, though.
Our next destination was the Unclaimed Baggage store in Scottsboro and then a stop at High Falls. We did hit the store but scratched High Falls off our list to visit another day. The trip home was a beautiful ride through some of the most scenic parts of the state with mountain views and the glorious waterways of Guntersville and surrounding areas. Farms and old homes dotted the landscape. Our Alabama waterfalls road trip was a relaxing change from the daily hustle of interstate rush hours on my daily commute to and from work.