Noccalula Falls in Alabama is a beautiful waterfall I hadn’t visited since childhood. Yes, it’s been that long. So long, in fact, that I decided to take care of the issue and visited a couple of months ago. It was even prettier than I remembered! This time around I saw more of the park and even hiked one of the trails. Now, I’m sharing my day trip experience and best tips to visit Noccalula Falls!
Noccalula Falls in Alabama
Located in Gadsden, Alabama, Noccaula Falls Park is a 250-acre public park and home to the beautiful 90-foot waterfall bearing its namesake.
This park isn’t a one-feature wonder though. There are multiple attractions in addition to the waterfall such as campgrounds, petting zoo, mini-golf, hiking trails, and even a covered bridge!
Legend Has It...
There was once a beautiful princess named Noccalula. She was a member of the Cherokee Native American community. Her father was a chief who had promised her hand in marriage to a young man from a different community.
She pleaded to her father explaining she loved a man who was a member of their own Cherokee community, but he didn’t listen.
On what would have been her wedding day, the heartbroken princess jumped to her death over Black Creek Falls as it was called at the time. Mourning her loss, the princess’ father renamed the falls after his beloved daughter and they have been called Noccalula ever since.
On Our Way to the Falls
As we made our way to the trail to hike to and behind the falls, we came across this sign that really made me laugh.
Someone has a great personality with a sense of humor. Sad to think though, that there was a reason the sign had to be created to start with.
At the sign, we noticed railroad tracks and off to the right was a train. Of course we had to ride the 1863 C.P. Huntington train replica!
We decided to take our train ride around the park before we started our hike. Choosing seats many rows back from our closest neighbors, we happily rode a full loop around the park before finally beginning the trail to the falls.
Starting the Gorge Trail
Finally, we reached the entrance to the Gorge Trail and began our hike towards the falls.
But first, FYI…
Having hiked this trail, I totally agree with this warning.
Right off the bat, I must admit it looked like a piece of cake.
However, it quickly became more of a natural path.
The Noccalula Falls
Not too far into the hike, we got our first glimpse of the beautiful Noccalula Falls in Alabama!
I knew we had a little more hiking to go but I couldn’t help taking several photos in the area where we got our first peek.
Reaching the Falls
Finally, we reached the falls where we could go under and behind.
I was excited to get these photos with the water but the climb out there was a bit more than I was expecting.
Definitely be careful in this entire area. It’s so slippery and there were many times I felt like I was doing the Spiderman pose trying to get from one rock to the next.
Admittedly, this was partially due to the fact that I wasn’t wearing a brace to protect my twice surgically reconstructed ankle. Oops. In my defense, I didn’t know the level of hiking I was going to encounter.
Behind the Falls
All of the cautionary climbing was completely worth this beautiful view…
and the calming sounds it produced!
The Other Side
At this point you can either turn around to return from where you came or climb over to the other side to continue the hike and see a different view of the falls.
I highly recommend continuing on.
Once again, be cautious in this area as it gets a tiny bit harder as you can see in these photos.
This is the actual rocky path to climb. I’m just starting it while you can see my friend, Heather (yes, same name), is ahead finishing up.
If you’re thinking about making this a family trip, the hike is doable for older kids. Heather’s kids (ages 9 and 12) had no problems with it.
It’s also not a big issue for most active young to middle-aged adults. I just wanted to properly disclose for smaller children and those adults with health issues for whom it isn’t recommended.
When the falls came into view from this side, I realized very quickly it was my favorite. I mean look at that rainbow!
We continued on to finish the trail, stopping along for a few photos before finally exiting the trail at the campgrounds.
I think we missed an exit somewhere because we had quite the vertical climb to the top. Going up this way wasn’t too bad but I would NOT have wanted to go down this way to start!
Back on Top
After passing the campgrounds, we got to view Noccalula Falls from the top and look down its 90-foot drop.
How cute is the wedding chapel that sits right near the overlook?
Then we crossed the bridge so we could get the following view of the falls, the flowers, and the monument with the wedding chapel in the background.
And, with that, we finished our hike and walked to the car that was in the parking lot very close by.
Directions to Noccalula Falls in Alabama
Visiting Noccalula Falls in Alabama can be a great day trip from a lot of cities within the state as well as nearby cities from neighboring states.
Approximate Driving Times From:
Where to Eat
If you like to eat like a local as I do, you’ll love Jefferson’s. With a dynamic menu featuring Southern classics paired with an outdoor dining deck boasting ceiling fans and TVs, the small town eatery leaves nothing to be desired.
The food is delicious and kid-friendly, the service is fantastic, and it falls into a fair price range.
The table shared appetizer classics such as fried mac-n-cheese, corn nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and fried pickles. For my main meal, I had the Jefferson Club with sweet potato fries. So good!
If dining inside or just passing through to use the restroom, notice the walls of dollar bills inside. Be sure to bring one with you to the restaurant. Write your favorite team or your name or a fond memory and leave your mark at Jefferson’s for all to see!
Where to Stay
Tips for Visiting Noccalula Falls in Alabama
Noccalula Falls Park Tips
Hover on this image to get my best tips for visiting Noccalula Falls in Alabama!
Know Before You Go
- Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids (age 4-12), and free for kids <4. If you plan on visiting more than once, there are season passes that pay for themselves in two visits.
- Free parking is available in the large lots in front of the pavilion and the gardens.
- The train operates daily and includes unlimited rides in the admission ticket.
- There are 15 trails to hike, bike, run, or walk. Not all of these are suitable for small children, strollers, or older adults with health issues.
- NO pets in the park. Pets are allowed in the campground areas but must be leashed at all times.
- There are indoor rooms and outdoor pavilions available to rent for your next event.
Who’s ready to put Noccalula Falls on your Alabama bucket list? This is one place I can’t wait to visit again in the fall when the foliage is bursting with color!
If you’ve been to Noccalula Falls in Alabama, what was your favorite part? Do you have any tips to add? If so, let me know below!