Alabama has some really great waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are a bit smaller (and less visited), such as Lost Falls and Indian Falls. Others such as DeSoto Falls and Little River Falls are more impressive, but also more frequented. Noccalula Falls “falls” into the second category, and of all the falls I’ve seen in Alabama, I have to say it was the busiest of the bunch.
Noccalula Falls is on the northern edge of Gadsden, and because it’s so easy to visit, it’s unlikely you’ll be alone. I visited on a rainy day. It wasn’t particularly warm out (though by Michigan standards, it was to me), and yet there were still many others viewing the falls. At 90′ tall, it’s not difficult to understand why so many people would be attracted to it. Since the rain was consistent during my visit, it also led to a pretty high water volume.
The falls can be viewed from both sides, and I would recommend getting shots from each vantage point. Different aspects of the falls pop out depending on the angle. Next to the falls is a park that has other features of interest. That portion of the park was not open when I visited in mid-January, and that threw me off. You do not need to enter that part of the park to view the falls. (The city of Gadsden website does mention a $6 entrance fee for the park…I don’t remember this from my visit? Maybe since the other part of the park was closed, nobody was there to collect…) Even with an entrance fee, it’s absolutely worth it!
- There are a number of ways to get to these falls since they’re in a city…so here’s one way (if coming from I-59). From I-59, take exit 188.
- Head south along AL-211 (also known as the Noccalula Parkway). Drive for about 2.5 miles, and the parking area for Noccalula Falls will be on your right. (There was another parking area further down, but that seemed to be for the other portion of the park I didn’t want to visit.)
- It’s pretty hard to miss the falls from the parking area…
Noccalula Falls in January 2016
Where in the World is Noccalula Falls?
If you’re in the Columbus area, there are a surprising number of waterfalls in the vicinity. I’m not sure that all of them would be worth visiting, but the few that I’ve visited have been easy to find. Hayden Falls and Indian Run Falls are the two that I’ve visited.
My observation has been that waterfalls in this area tend to be very dependent on the season and rainfall levels. Your best bet at viewing the falls would be in the spring after the snow has melted (which might be relatively early) or after a lot of rain. I visited Hayden Falls in late August 2015, and there wasn’t a whole lot of water flowing over the falls. And yet there was still some, which I felt was pretty good for that time of year. As you can see, if you were to show up after a lot of snow melt, you might see a falls 6 to 7 times wider than it was.
- From I-270, take exit 15 and head east along Tuttle Road.
- Drive along Tuttle Road for about 2 miles, and then turn right onto Dublin Road.
- Drive about 1 mile to Hayden Run Road. Turn left onto Hayden Run Road.
- On your right (as you’re heading east), you’ll see the parking are for Hayden Falls. The parking area seemed to be further east than what’s sort of shown on Google Maps.
- At the parking area, it’s a very enjoyable hike to the falls. There are stairs that lead to the falls, which makes it relatively accessible.
Hike: 0.3 miles or so (round trip)
Hayden Falls in August 2015
Where in the World is Hayden Falls?
When I was looking for waterfalls to visit in Alabama during a trip this past weekend, I was surprised to find out that there were a number of waterfalls in the Little River Canyon National Preserve. Just over six years ago, I had visited DeSoto Falls State Park, which has a number of waterfalls (DeSoto Falls Indian Falls, Laurel Falls, Lost Falls, and the Azalea Cascades, and maybe a one or two others). I had no clue that just a few miles away was the Little River Canyon with even more waterfalls. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure that I would have driven the additional distance to see these other falls.
But when you miss waterfalls one time, it’s the perfect excuse to go back and visit! And so I did. The Little River Canyon is a fascinating place to visit. It is a surprisingly beautiful canyon. There is an enjoyable but winding drive that takes you along the canyon rim, and they have done a very good job of placing overlooks at the right places. But, comically enough, to see Little River Falls, you don’t have to drive along the Canyon Rim Drive (though you still should). Little River Falls is found right at the intersection of two roads before you start your journey (assuming you approach the falls from the same direction as I did).
Once you find the parking area for the falls (which isn’t particularly difficult), the “hike” to the falls isn’t particularly difficult either. There was a very nice ranger/volunteer handing out maps, and he referenced the stairs down as the “hard” path and the wheelchair accessible ramp as the “easy” way back. I thought this funny, as it seemed like there may have been only 20 or so stairs to the falls. (There were probably a few more, but there aren’t any heart warnings involved with going down these stairs, at least compared to other places I’ve been.) I actually found the ramp back up more tedious because it took me way out of the way to get back to my car! (There really aren’t any additional views to be had by taking the long way.) The views to be had at the designated areas, though, are definitely worth it. (And while you’re at this area, realize there’s a hike to another smaller waterfall, Martha’s Falls, that’s enjoyable.)
- If driving along I-59, you could either take exit 218 or 222 to get to the falls. I think I took exit 222 as I was heading south, and turned left onto US-11.
- Drive along US-11 to the intersection of US-11 and AL-35. Turn left onto AL-35, and then turn left after a few blocks to stay on AL-35.
- Once on this route, it’s a pretty easy drive to the falls. The parking area for the falls is found on AL-35 just after the intersection with AL-176 (which is the scenic drive). The signage for the falls makes it relatively difficult to miss.
- At the parking area, it’s a short walk to the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (there is a wheelchair-accessible ramp)
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round trip
Where in the World is Little River Falls?: map
Little River Falls in January 2016
Keefer Falls in October 2010
This one needs a disclaimer: Keefer Falls is on private property. Don’t visit it.
Alrighty? A little under 4 years ago, my dad and I visited Keefer Falls, one of the many waterfalls in the Owen Sound area. The book I was using, “Waterfalls of Ontario” by Mark Harris, had updates that a few waterfalls were now on private land, but Keefer Falls wasn’t one of them at that time. We got to the area where Keefer Falls was, and there were no private property signs that I can remember, so we found the falls, went to the base, and then wandered back to our car. Along the way, we found remnants of old homesteads and farming equipment.
It wasn’t until researching later that I found out that Keefer Falls was on private property. Whether that was a recent occurrence or not, I don’t know. Keefer Falls is a pretty 25′ waterfall, and yet you and I shouldn’t visit it. It’s just that simple. If you’re desperate for other waterfalls, check out Indian Falls, Jones Falls, Weaver’s Creek Falls, Inglis Falls, or Walters Falls, all of which are within driving distance.
Directions: It’s on private property.
Accessibility: It’s on private property. (0/10)
Length of Hike: Who Knows?
Where in the World is Keefer Falls?: It’s in Ontario.
Indian Falls in October 2010
Indian Falls was one my favorite waterfalls in Grey County, Ontario. Not only was it accessible (as are most of the waterfalls in this area), but it seemed to be the least affected by humans, at least visibly. Some of the other waterfalls in the area show what human beings have done to change their surroundings, sometimes so much so that it strongly affects the waterfall that you see. Indian Falls doesn’t have that problem.
The falls are very pretty, and also rather surprising. If you walk upstream, there is nothing indicating that a significant drop is only a short distance downstream. When we showed up later in the afternoon/ evening, the sun was in the path of the viewpoint, and so it was rather difficult to get good pictures that didn’t have a lot of glare. When zooming the camera, I did have to cut out some of the surroundings, which was disappointing because of the beautiful fall colors around the falls. Better pictures may have been achieved from the base, but there really isn’t any approved trail down to the base, and the drop-offs are much sharper than they appear. I wouldn’t suggest trying.
- From Owen Sound, head north on Grey County Road 1.
- On the left a few miles out of the city, you’ll come to the parking area for Indian Falls.
- Park there and follow the trail to the falls. It is mildly steep at a few points.
Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Indian Falls?
There are multiple waterfalls to be found in DeSoto State Park, with DeSoto Falls the largest and most widely known of the waterfalls. Indian Falls is the second largest of the falls in the area and one that should not be missed when visiting the area.
As with DeSoto Falls, Indian Falls is very easy to view. From the parking area, it’s just a short walk to the the falls. To get a better view, you will have to maneuver down the side of a hill, though it is not that bad.
1) From I-59, head toward DeSoto State Park. There are multiple ways to get there, and the way I took did not pass through Fort Payne. Other directions go through Fort Payne.
2) Follow the signs to DeSoto State Park, as they’re pretty clearly placed along major intersections.
3) You’re heading toward DeKalb County Road 89. You’ll drive for a ways on this road until you enter the state park.
4) From the direction I entered, I saw the gift shop first. I kept heading down C.R. 89, and if I had kept going, I would have gone to Fort Payne.
5) Locate the parking are for the Azalea Cascades Boardwalk and park here.
6) Instead of heading toward the boardwalk, turn 180 degrees and look for the fenced in sewage treatment plant. You’ll see a sign indicating Indian Falls.
7) Cross the road, and follow the arrows, which lead you directly to the waterfall. It’s pretty hard to miss.
8) You’ll have to cross the creek, where you’ll then have to maneuver down the hill to get the best view of the falls.
Where in the World is Indian Falls?: map