MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - In need of some weekend plans? Want to go on an adventure? Would you like to have some of the most Instagram-worthy photos you can get in Alabama?
Well Meteorologist Tyler Sebree has the perfect day trip for you: a trip up I-59 in Northeast Alabama to see some of the best waterfalls not only in the state, but in all of the South.
If you are in Central Alabama, you can take a variety of routes to get to the first of four stops (Noccalula Falls). However, the best route for most of us if you’re wanting to avoid the interstate is as follows:
1. Take U.S. 231 northward out of Montgomery to Wetumpka
2. Stay on U.S. 231 until you get to Sylacauga -- this is a nice, quiet and relaxing drive that avoids the interstate
3. That turns into AL-21 and eventually AL-275 in Talladega (no turns are necessary up until this point)
4. Make a left off of AL-275 onto AL-77; stay on this until you get to Rainbow City
5. Make a right onto U.S. 411 and then not long after take a left onto Broad Street, which turns into Forrest Avenue
6. Turn right onto N 12th Street, which turns into Woodliff Road/Noccalula Road
7. Once you see a Jack’s, turn left and park in that parking lot
Once parked, you are at stop #1 on the trip: the roaring sound of Noccalula Falls will greet you once you step out of your vehicle. Once you walk over to the falls, you will get the “above view” of the 90-foot waterfall.
That view is certainly stunning and you may want to spend some time taking it in, but the best view is from ground level. To get to the bottom of the falls, you’ll need to take the Black Creek Trail, which is a gravel pathway beside the Noccalula Falls wedding chapel. You’ll follow that for about a half mile before taking a left onto a small trail with a steep decline. Once you descend that rocky hill you will turn left and easily be able to navigate to the bottom of the falls.
If the sun is out you’ll be able to capture a rainbow at the bottom of the falls at the right angle. You can also go behind the falls into the cave and get some phenomenal photographs and videos.
Once you’re done and hike back up to your vehicle, you’ll turn left out of the parking lot onto Noccalula Road and cross a bridge before making a right onto Tabor Road. That eventually turns into AL-176, which is what you will stay on to get to the next stop on the trip: Little River Canyon National Preserve.
AL-176 is also called Little River Canyon Parkway, and it will give you plenty of options to pull off for great canyon views and picnic spots as you wind your way around many turns -- some of which are very sharp!
Along the scenic route will be a pull-off for a much less-known Alabama waterfall: Grace’s High Falls.
This waterfall is seasonal and typically and isn’t much to look at during the summertime because it needs recent rainfall to flow over the clifftop. This waterfall is a towering 133 feet tall and can be heard roaring from the viewing platform despite being on the opposite side of the canyon!
There are other smaller waterfalls and worthwhile views inside Little River Canyon National Preserve as well -- especially after a rainy period. The most famous and picturesque is Little River Falls. This roaring waterfall is the starting point of the canyon and stands at 45 feet tall.
It’s easy to access and doesn’t require any sort of hike. Once you take AL-176 to the end, turn right onto AL-35. Immediately after crossing that bridge you will turn right into a large parking lot. After you park, head down the stairs or walkway to snap some amazing photos of one of Alabama’s best waterfalls!
This is easily a place where you can spend more than a few minutes taking pictures, relaxing or just hanging out.
The last stop on this day trip is DeSoto Falls. In order to get there from Little River Falls you’ll need to turn left out of the parking lot and then drive a little over five miles to DeSoto Parkway NE. Turn right, drive until you get to the end and then make a left at the stop sign onto Wester Road.
Once at the next stop sign turn right onto DeSoto Parkway. Take this for 3.5 miles and turn right (this turn will be easy to spot because a sign for DeSoto Falls will be present). You’ll drive down that road until the very end and find a place to park. This parking lot requires a fee, so please keep that in mind.
Descend down the steps and prepare to be awed by not only the main waterfall cascading 107 feet, but two upper falls coming from the historic A. A. Miller Dam. The views you’ll get in this part of DeSoto State Park are unmatched.
Before you leave, make sure you give the stairs that will take you back up to the parking lot area a look; you’ll notice something pretty cool about them. The faces of each step comprise a part of a mosaic piece of art!
Each of the 43 steps is its own distinct mosaic of colorful stained glass pieces, but looking at the entire stairway will have you itching to take photos!
O.K. you’ve climbed the beautiful stairway to your vehicle and you’re exhausted from a long, long day of exploring. If you want a bite to eat, you can stop in either Mentone or Fort Payne before jumping on the interstate to head back home.
Each offers dining options, a nice downtown and there are even hotels available if staying the night is more up your alley! Regardless of your decision, the quickest way home since it will likely be dark is to hop on I-59 and head towards Birmingham.
Then you’ll take I-459 towards Montgomery and Tuscaloosa before getting on I-65 south to get back to central and southern Alabama!
If you decide to embark on this adventure -- or any others across Alabama -- be sure to pass along any photos, suggestions, thoughts, and more to Meteorologist Tyler Sebree. He’d love to hear about it and find other day trips to pencil in!