With spring showers right around the corner, now is the perfect time go chasing waterfalls. And there’s no better place to chase waterfalls than in North Alabama. Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the Tennessee River, the area is filled to the brim with gorgeous natural features, from creeks and streams to rivers, mountains, and lakes. Of course, all the runoff from the Tennessee River also has created some spectacular waterfalls. So many, in fact, that The Sipsey Wilderness, the state’s largest designated wilderness, is nicknamed The Land of 1,000 Waterfalls.
Seeing all 13 waterfalls on the North Alabama Waterfall Trail should be at the top of every Alabamian’s bucket list. For those coming from further south, it’s an easy weekend trip to plan, with plenty of options for camping, cabin rentals, or even hotels near many of the waterfalls. If you’re centrally located or already live in North Alabama, the trail can easily be broken up into several day trips, leaving additional time for hikes, picnic breaks, and other outdoor adventure in the area.
Here we highlight five of our favorite waterfalls. If you’re planning to take the full trip, download a full guide or find the waterfall trail app here. Hint: The best time to see the waterfalls in North Alabama is after a few days of rain.
Grace’s High Fall (Fort Payne)
At 133 feet tall, Grace’s High Falls takes home the distinction of being the state’s highest waterfall. Located inside the Little River Canyon Preserve, Grace’s High gives major Western vibes. Flanked by steep canyon walls, its perilous drop ends in a rushing river below. Grace’s High is fairly narrow and seasonal, so it’s best seen after a spring downpour.
Little River Falls (Fort Payne)
Little River Falls is the main attraction of the 14,000-acre Little River Canyon Preserve, one of the deepest and most extensive canyon systems east of the Mississippi River. With multiple viewpoints located along Highway 35, these roaring falls are easy to spot. In warmer months, look out for bold kayakers making their run down the falls. If you’ve got some extra time, pack a swimsuit and swim in the pool below the falls.
(Jamie Martin/Alabama Tourism Department)
DeSoto Falls (Mentone)
One of the state’s most-visited waterfalls, DeSoto Falls (part of DeSoto State Park) is well deserving of its popularity. At 107 feet, with numerous smaller falls around it, the impact of falls crashing into the turquoise pool is an experience for all the senses. A railed overlook from the falls’ origin point of the A.A. Miller Dam flows into steps leading down to the main lower falls.
High Falls (Grove Oak)
Spanning 300 feet, this is the widest of the waterfalls on our list. Before taking the short walk from the parking lot to the falls, make a pitstop in the visitor’s cabin to add your name to the guest book alongside visitors from all over the country and across the globe. A walking bridge crosses over the top of the waterfall, or you can cross via a natural bridge below. If you’re looking for a thrill, tiptoe onto a narrow rock that juts out over the water, where you’ll be at eye level with crashing falls on both sides of you.
(Claire Gamble/Alabama Tourism Department)
Noccalula Falls (Gadsden)
This storied waterfall named after a Creek Indian princess is the namesake for Noccalula Falls Park, which also includes a paved trail system, authentic Huntington miniature train, petting zoo, mini golf, and a pioneer village. The falls cascade 90 feet over a Lookout Mountain Ledge into the Black Creek ravine. One of the best things about Noccalula Falls is the incredible view you can get from behind the falls. Take the Black Creek Trail system to the bottom of the falls, then carefully walk along the slippery rocks that lead directly behind the falls. There’s nothing like feeling the cold spray of the falls on your face as you take in the majestic backstage views.
Other waterfalls in North Alabama to see:
- Rainbow Falls
- Bethel Springs Falls
- Pisgah Gorge Falls
- Turkey Foot Falls
- Coldwater Falls at Spring Park
- Kinlock Falls
- Lacefield Falls