Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Noccalula Falls - Gadsden, Alabama

Adventure Journal Entry Date: July 2012 (More)
I was recently presenting to a group of Alabama teachers when I asked for suggestions for family destinations in their fine state. Numerous educators suggested Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, so I began researching and making plans immediately. The legend is that a Cherokee chieftain promised the hand of his daughter, Noccalula, to a Creek sub-chief in exchange for peace. The young princess was so distraught, she flung herself off the falls and to her death 90 feet below. We enjoy Native American history and legend, but frankly, it was the rest of the park that really got my attention.

Gadsden is a relatively short drive for us, so it worked out to be a great weekend getaway. We left mid afternoon on a Friday and arrived at the Noccalula Falls campground in plenty of time for the kids to enjoy the pool
and the walk to the park's playground and falls. The campsite I selected turned out to be perfectly level, so setup was a breeze. We got a little rain through the night, but no storms. Nothing is more relaxing than a light rain on a camper's roof.

The rain continued until mid-morning Saturday, so we had a slow lazy start for the day. When the skies cleared, we headed-out for Noccalula Falls Park. It's a quarter-mile walk, but easy and extremely scenic. From the campground, we walked along a pathway that winds through the public access area, past the wedding chapel, and over a little arched bridge which crosses the stream feeding the waterfalls. The flow of the water affects the beauty of the falls, and on this visit there was some water, but nothing spectacular. If you'd like to see it really roaring, watch this video. Past the falls we could see the scale train and some Teepees.

After paying our admission to the park (which was very reasonable), we boarded the train. It's a small scale train, and the kids loved it. Our first stop was the "petting zoo." We love animals, so this was the highlight of the park. They have a lion that seemed particularly interested in Heath. No, you can't pet the lion. The actual petting zoo area had alpaca, goats, a big ram, lambs, a variety of goats, rabbits, and many other cute fuzzies. Our favorite was a very friendly buck that loved attention and liked to lick the kids' hands.

We wandered through all the old building and tried to imagine what it was
like to live in one of these old cabins 200 years ago, especially with no air-conditioning. This part of the park features a very old covered bridge that crosses a coy pond. The fish were massive, inducing ooohs and ahhhs from all of us. Just past the impressive collection of historic buildings is the access to the base of the falls. We decided on this hot humid day, that the view from the top of the falls would be just fine. We did explore the cracks and crevices in the limestone formations. It reminded us of Rock Town near Lafayette, Georgia.
After lunch at the resident Jack's restaurant, we walked to the Noccalula Falls miniature golf course. Most people suggested we drive, but we could see it from where we were. It was a whopping 1/8 mile. We were disappointed when we discovered that the cost of miniature golf wasn't included in the park's admission. Any disappointment quickly vanished when we saw the course. Very very nice! The course was designed and constructed by a company that specializes in miniature golf courses. We played all 18 holes, and had a blast in the meantime.

We concluded our day with a swim, some Frisbee,  and a roaring campfire. I can't recall a better time we've ever had. We decided we want to come back in the fall and perhaps at Christmas when the lights are on. The campground is open year-round, but the park is not. Make sure to check their website or call for open/close dates and hours.

For dozens of pictures and more details, visit the PB&J Adventures Noccalula Falls' page.


1 comment:

  1. Hi There,

    Ran across your site while looking for pictures of Noccalula Falls. I'm with American Massage Therapy Association - Alabama Chapter and we are redesigning our website. The top pic here is great and I was wondering if we could use in on our site as part of a flash presentation. I would attribute the photo to you and point back to this article if you give me permission.