11 Best Things to Do at Noccalula Falls Park, Gadsden, Alabama

Noccalula Falls Park is one of the best things to do in Gadsden, Alabama. It’s a beautiful park with camping, trails, and mini-golf as well as some interesting events such as the World’s Longest Yard Sale and a petting zoo.

It is also a great place for families, where children will love exploring the Black Creek, hiking through the woods, and seeking out the cavern below the waterfall. Parents can relax knowing that they are in a safe environment filled with fun outdoor activities for their little ones.

Noccalula Falls Park is also a wonderful venue for couples looking to spend some quality time together. The park offers plenty of romantic spots where you can cuddle up under blankets while enjoying nature together with your partner.

noccalula-falls-in-gadsden-alabama

If you’re looking for something different to do with your group of friends, Noccalula Falls Park could be just what you’re looking for!

You’ll have fun exploring all its nooks and crannies while still being able to socialize comfortably without having too much space between each other.

If you’d rather spend time alone than with others, Noccalula Falls Park may be right up your alley! There’s plenty here for solo adventurers who want some time away from everyday life but still enjoy nature walks or hikes through forests.

Excited to find out more about the things you can do at Noccalula Falls Park? Read on to discover them!

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Where is Noccalula Falls Park?

Noccalula Falls Park is a public park located in the city of Gadsden in North Alabama. It is conveniently located about an hour’s drive from the most populous city Birmingham, and about 2 hours drive from the capital Montgomery.

This makes it an easy day trip when you are visiting the Yellowhammer State!

The full address of the park is: 1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden, Al 35904

About the petting zoo

On 2 May 2021, a fire ripped through the barn where the petting zoo used to stand, destroying it completely. The tragic incident left 75 animals dead, but thankfully, the other animals in enclosures were spared.

Today, the animal habitat has reopened as of September 2021, four months after the incident. You can now visit the updated space that sports a beautiful wood cabin!

11 Best Things to Do at Noccalula Falls Park

1. Check out the Animal Habitat

Great news as the Animal Habitat reopens for visitors! It is a family-friendly attraction that offers an exciting way to enjoy the outdoors.

Although the barn that got burned down is still not up and running up yet, the new space created is open and waiting for some love!

There are lots of animals on site that will welcome visitors including goats, donkeys, buck deers, chickens, raccoons, Kudamundi, sheep, and more.

2. Get up close to Noccalula Falls

statue of noccalula near the falls

The center of attraction in the park is no doubt the Noccalula Falls, a cascading 90-foot tall waterfall.

This natural beauty is named for Noccalula, a Cherokee Indian Chief’s young daughter who drowned rather than abandon her true love.

Her fate is commemorated by a statue and an inscribed story that is really touching.

Getting a good view of it is easy as there are lots of viewpoints around the park, but the best would be from the top of the gorge.

An easy walk from the entrance will lead you here, where it is fenced up and safe for the whole family.

You should also know that you can actually see the waterfall from the north side carpark without paying the park fees.

3. Visit the unique Pioneer Village

The pioneer village is located in the heart of Noccalula Falls Park and the unique structures here will transport you back in time with pioneer life displays.

It is a collection of rustic, hand-hewn log buildings that depict pioneer living conditions, including a country store, grist mill, covered bridge, pioneer residence, smokehouse, blacksmith shop, and more.

The majority of the rooms in the building are sealed off, so you can only look in rather than enter.

However, children will enjoy roaming around in this area, which also includes swings and benches for adults.

Nearby, you will also find the historic Gilliland-Reese Covered Bridge, also known simply as Gilliland’s Covered Bridge. It makes a pretty photo op!

4. Take a walk through the Botanical Gardens

azaleas in bloom in noccalula falls park

Walking on, you will find the neatly manicured Botanical Gardens of Noccalula Falls Park which displays over 25,000 azaleas.

Although it is really small, it still offers a nice area to relax and admire your surroundings.

You will also find a bridal pergola and a new sensory garden that allows children to explore the environment through their five senses.

5. Have a game of mini-golf

The Noccalula Falls Mini-Golf Course is next to the lovely Noccalula Falls Park, where it actually has its own parking area.

The course has a lovely manicured pattern that leads you past flowing waterfalls, over and around streams, and around the Noccalula Falls rock formations.

It was created to be enjoyable for people of all ages while still providing a challenge that will keep even the most seasoned golfer coming back for more.

If you are keen to spend an evening with friends and family battling it out, you will be happy to know that the course is lit for your enjoyment!

6. Ride the historic trains

Your family and you can take your turn on the replica 1863 C. P. Huntington train ride that goes around the park.

* Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you see it, this will now be replaced by new electric trains. We are unsure what they will look like, so be sure to check out the official website for details.

There are stops at the gift store, near the Gorge Trail’s entrance, and near the Kiwanis Pavilion’s playground and it circles the park on a one-mile track.

Riding the train is free with park admission, and you can ride it as many times as you want.

If there are people waiting at the gift shop stop, however, everyone must disembark and rejoin the queue if you want to go around again.

And since it is a small train, some adults may find it difficult to board, and if you have a stroller, you will need to fold it.

7. See if you can pass through Fat Man Squeeze

This is a truly unique spot in the park where you can actually have a good laugh with your companions!

It is located just nearby the botanical gardens.

Found on the park’s walkway, it’s a very narrow gap between two enormous rock formations. You could see all the way through it, but the spot in the middle is kind of dubious-looking.

As you walk through it, it narrows quickly and you would have to walk sideways to get through it. Hold your breath though as not everyone might make it past!

8. Take to the hiking trails

The park sits on 500 acres of land, so there is no shortage of hiking trails for you to explore and get a good workout in.

You will find the Black Creek trail here, which is network of 15 trails and connectors for walkers, runners, hikers, and bicyclists.

The Black Creek Trail (1.7 miles) is a gravel route that starts beside the wedding chapel at Noccalula Falls Campground and leads to a tranquil, scenic walk where you may take in the natural beauty of the area.

Other than that, you will find the Whatley Trail (1.0 mile), a somewhat challenging trail with rocks and rougher sections.

The 0.7-mile Moonshine Ridge has a mild elevation change, similar to the Cascade Trail (0.6 mile) which has only a slight elevation change.

The Family Loop (0.6 mile) was created with family in mind; the landscape is flat and there is only a slight elevation shift.

The Jeep Hill Loop (1.0 mile) is a little more challenging, with some moderate elevation changes.

For those who prefer challenging their boundaries, the Jeep Hill Connector (0.3 miles) features the biggest elevation change of all the paths.

You’ll also encounter Black Creek Bend (0.7 miles) towards the trail’s lower end, which is flat and flows beside Black Creek.

All of the trails are color-coded and you will find more information on the Noccalula Falls Park map. Here is another resource provided by the city.

9. Camp overnight

While most people are out here on a day trip, you can actually spend the night in the great outdoors under the stars!

The campground is situated on the other side of Black Creek from the main park area and has modern facilities to support your stay here. Restrooms, shower facilities, laundry, media room, pool, and even meeting rooms can be found here.

Go the primitive way with just a tent or choose to drive your RV in! Both are well supported by the staff here. If you are lucky enough, you can rent one of two log cabins here too!

Take note that you will have to call them up if you wish to make a booking for a campsite.

10. Fly fishing

enjoy fly fishing for rainbow trout at noccalula falls park

This might not be known to many by Noccalula Falls Park is actually a great place for fly fishing and the prize is the beautiful Rainbow Trout!

The Rainbow City Fly Fishing Club and the City of Gadsden Parks and Recreation Department collaborate on the fishing program to allow anglers to fish for Rainbow trout in a magnificent scenic setting in Alabama.

In order to do so, you’ll need an Alabama fishing license and a specific trout permit from the City of Gadsden.

Trout will be stocked twice a year, and fishing will be permitted between November and June (dates subject to change based on weather).

11. Attend one of the special events

Throughout the year, the park organizes special events for its visitors.

The mainstays are the World’s Longest Yard Sale which sees thousands of bargain hunters descend on the park to seek out great deals in early August.

During Christmas time, there is also Christmas at the Falls, where millions of beautiful lights are put up around the park to spark the festive joy.

For the adventure seekers, there is the Barbarian Challenge, an obstacle race that takes competitors through the terrain of the park in June. There is a fantastic festival atmosphere here with the live music and amazing food!

What should you bring along to Noccalula Falls Park?

Visiting the park is an outdoor activity where there are trails to navigate. You should come dressed in comfortable hiking shoes, or at least good walking shoes – no flip flops please – a raincoat and a waterproof bag to store your mobile phone or camera in case of rain.

We recommend that you apply sunscreen and have spares when you visit and it is preferable to bring along insect spray too.

A change of clothes would be ideal if you are intending to explore most of the park.

Take note that there are no lockers in the park, so don’t bring too many valuables along!

When is the best time to see Noccalula Falls?

As you might know, waterfalls may not flow throughout the year due to changes in Mother Nature. We cannot control how it works, but we can figure out when is the best time to go so that we can catch the falls in their majesty.

The park is open most times of the year, but the best time to visit Noccalula Falls is during the winter and spring season when there is the most water flow.

Conversely, there is much lesser water during the fall and summer, when water flow can slow to a trickle.

Although the park is closed during January and February, you can still see the falls from the north carpark at any time of the year.

How much does it cost to get into Noccalula Falls Park?

Prices have stayed consistent throughout the years and they go into maintaining the park, and of course, the rebuilding of the barn zoo. You may also check out the official site to get the latest pricing.

  • Adults
    • $ 6.00 per visit
    • $8.00 Combo Park and Mini Golf Pass
    • $ 15.00/person Season Pass (Includes 1 game of Mini Golf per visit)
  • Senior Adults / Military
    • $ 4.00 per visit
    • $6.00 Combo Park and Mini Golf Pass
    • $ 10.00/person Season Pass (Includes 1 game of Mini Golf per visit)
  • Children (ages 4-12)
    • $ 4.00 per visit
    • $6 Combo Park and Mini Golf Pass
    • $ 10.00/person Season Pass (Includes 1 game of Mini Golf per visit)
  • Children 3 and under
    • FREE

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the story of Noccalula true?

There is no actual proof that the story of Noccalula is true. It is a legend that was passed down through word of mouth over the years.

What are the operating hours of Noccalula Falls Park?

Noccalula Falls Park is open daily, from 10 AM to 5 PM CDT, during the regular season which runs from March to October. In November, it is open only on the weekends. The park is closed in January and February. Check its Facebook Page for up-to-date information.

How to contact Noccalula Falls Park?

The contact information of the park is as follows:
– Tel: (256) 549-4663
– Email: noccalulafalls@cityofgadsden.com
– Address: 1500 Noccalula Road, Gadsden, Al 35904

What facilities are there in Noccalula Falls Park?

You can find picnic areas to relax, restrooms, as well as a gift shop to pick up souvenirs or grab a drink from the vending machine.

How do you get under Noccalula Falls?

You may take the Gorge Trail which brings you to a cavern under the waterfall. There is a small yellow arrow that takes you left on an offshoot trail about half a mile in. Be aware that the trail can get quite steep, so avoid it if you have difficulty in such conditions.

Can you walk under Noccalula Falls?

Yes, you can walk under the Noccalula Falls by following the Gorge Trail and taking an offshoot trail that leads to the bottom of the waterfall.

Can you swim in Noccalula Falls Park?

Swimming near Noccalula Falls is not allowed. Even for an experienced person, it can be fairly risky. As a result, we strongly advise you to seek out an alternative swimming spot, such as one that can be found at the neighboring camping site.

How long is the Gorge Trail at Noccalula Falls Park?

The entire Gorge Trail spans 2.9 miles (4.67 km) and generally takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. It is a loop from the top of the falls across the suspension bridge and then to the bottom of the falls.

Are dogs allowed at Noccalula Falls Park?

Yes, dogs are allowed at Noccalula Falls Park and the campground, but they will need to be leashed to ensure the safety of the dog and the visitors of the park. Take note that they are not allowed on the train ride though.

Can you get married at Noccalula Falls Park?

Yes, you can get married at Noccalula Falls Park, where there is a tiny, rustic cedar-and-stone wedding chapel that can comfortably seat 65 people for small, private nuptials.

How do you pronounce Noccalula Falls Park?

The right way to pronounce Noccalula is “KNOCK’-A- LEW’-LA”. Falls is normally added to it, so you will be right when you call it Noccalula Falls.

Is there handicap access at Noccalula Falls Park?

No, there is no handicap access at the Noccalula Falls Park. There are steep stairs and small trails that are not suitable for wheelchairs and people who have difficulty navigating such terrain.

In conclusion: Best Things to Do in Noccalula Falls Park Alabama

If you’re looking for something fun to do in Gadsden, Alabama, a visit to Noccalula Falls Park is a great choice.

The falls themselves are beautiful and impressive, and there’s so much more to do than just look at them.

You can easily spend half a day or even the entire day hanging out with friends and family exploring this park, or consider staying the night at the rustic yet modern campground.

The choice is yours!

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