This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure.
Our 100-mile long Northeast Alabama waterfall road trip features 11-miles of national scenic roads, 12 waterfalls, and 24 other points of interest as you chase waterfalls on a stunningly beautiful 3-hour tour. Of course, it will take you longer as you stop to take pictures and take in the sites. This route is an easy day trip from Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, or our home in Huntsville. This route includes not only Alabama’s tallest waterfall but some of Alabama’s largest waterfalls by volume as well.

Map of Northeast Alabama Waterfalls

Below is our map of North East Alabama waterfalls. If it doesn’t load, try refreshing the browser 😉 Each waterfall listed has its height as part of the pin description.

Pro-tip: Try turning off the map’s driving route (uncheck the box on the driving layer section) to see the icons under the stop markers.

Desoto Falls

Desoto Falls offers visitors something for every season. During the summer, water lovers can rent kayaks and travel 4-miles upstream. During the falls, the turning leaves and the iconic boat house make for stunning photographs. During the winter and spring, water levels are at their highest, which is why we colloquially call this waterfall season.

Desoto Falls is in a separate portion of Desoto Falls State Park called the Desoto Falls Picnic Area, about 6-miles north of the main park. It requires a $4 day-use fee, which is conveniently payable by credit card. Also, it’s separate from the Desoto Falls trail parking, which is 1.9-mile out-and-back to the river.

Once you’re in the park, you’ll enjoy the small cascade flowing over the historic A. A. Miller Dam and the Desoto State Park Lake behind the dam. A 50-step long staircase decorated with mosaic tiles takes you to a railed overlook where you can see the 107′ Lower Desoto Falls.

Pro-tip: arrive early to take the best photographs. You’ll be shooting south and east directly into the sun for most of the day.

Desoto State Park

Desoto State Park is six miles south of the namesake falls. Here’s you’ll find camping, cabins, hiking, and mountain biking. However, if you’re on a waterfall road trip, you’re going to want to see falling water. The main park has several to choose from. Here is our list, subjectively ranked from most impressive to least:

  • Lodge Falls: A 25′ waterfall located behind Desoto Lodge.
  • Indian Falls: A 20′ tall falls located across the road from the Talmudge Butler Boardwalk Trailhead (formerly Azalea Cascade Trailhead).
  • Laurel Falls: A 6′ tall falls located .75 miles from the Desoto Country Store. (Many people combine Lost Falls and Laurel Falls into a 2.3-mile loop hike.)
  • Lost Falls: A 5′ waterfalls located 1.5 miles away from the County Store. (known to be ‘lost’ altogether during dry months) 
  • Azalea Cascade: An 8′ cascade on the Talmudge Butler Boardwalk. (known locally as the most disappointing waterfall in the park)

Pro-Tip: If you’re short on time, keep driving through the park and focus on larger falls later in the trip.

Little River Falls

Little River Falls is a 45′ waterfall right on the Little River. Since it’s on a river and not a creek, you’ll see lots of water here during waterfall season. In fact, on April 8, 2014, the falls set a record water flow of more than 11,000 cubic feet per second. We saw lots of people heading up the trail to the Little River Bridge Overlook, which we would have done with just a little more time. There’s also a smaller 5′ waterfall a little farther down canyon ubiquitously called Little Falls (formally called Martha’s Falls) that makes an excellent swimming hole during the summer but probably isn’t photogenic enough to justify the hike for the typical winter visitor.

Little River Falls is 15-minutes or so down the road from Desoto State Park. Our map and your navigator will direct you down Fischer Road, which is definitely the county straight line way to get there. It takes about the same time to continue down the Desoto Parkway to Al-35. You’ll be on the outskirts of Ft Payne and pass a 5-star ice cream parlor (Parkway Ice Cream) if you go this way. Something to consider if you’re looking for a pit-stop, since there are only pit toilets at the Little River Falls parking area.

Pro-Tip: There are flush toilets at the Little River Canyon Center

Little River Canyon Rim Parkway

The Little River Canyon Rim Parkway is 11-miles of driving bliss on a National Scenic Route. You’ll pass seven scenic overlooks, Mushroom Rock, and two named waterfalls. Your navigator will not take you this way if you plug in either High Falls Park or Nocalulla Falls, but you can’t pass this up if you call yourself a road tripper. You also can’t pass up a view of Alabama’s highest waterfall if you’re a waterfall chaser. If you made it this far in this article, you’re going down the Rim Parkway and stopping a couple of places along the way.

Your first stop is the Little River Falls Overlook for another view of the falls and your first view of the 600′ deep Little River Canyon. Next up comes Mushroom Rock. You can’t miss it as it’s literally in the middle of the road. A little further down is Greg’s Two Falls, which is much harder to find than Mushroom Rock because it’s 3-miles down a faint trail from an unmarked parking area. The pictures I saw online looked beautiful if the water’s flowing and you’re up for a challenge. I wasn’t enthralled with Grace’s High Falls, even though it’s Alabama’s tallest waterfall at 133′. It’s rather far from the overlook and didn’t have a lot of flow, even in the winter. The last viewpoint at Eberhart Point was a fitting farewell to the canyon.

Your next stop depends on where you’re going. Our map and write-up show you going to High Falls Park / Lake Guntersville before finishing at Nocalulla Falls. You might consider skipping either one of these destinations (which will cut two hours off the drive) or swapping the order to set up your return trip home.

Pro-tip: Pack a lunch and picnic at your favorite lookout

High Falls Park

High Falls Park has a beautiful waterfall with remarkably well-maintained grounds, especially considering the country roads you take to get there. In particular, the last couple of miles are, um, rustic. You do have stop options in Collinsville and the junction with I-59.

The park’s centerpiece is the impressive High Falls, which are 35 feet high and up to 300 feet across. The park rules say no guns, horses, or alcohol. They also are pretty serious about you getting out before the park closes. However, you can swim in Town Creek and walk remarkably close to the falls, which are pumping a lot of water during waterfall season.

Pro-tip: Be careful at the edge of the falls

Lake Guntersville State Park

Lake Guntersville, Alabama’s largest lake, stretches 75 miles from Guntersville Dam to Nickajack Dam. Lake Guntersville State Park sits on the eastern shore between the mouths of Town Creek and Short Creek. It features 36 miles of hiking and biking trails, water access, fantastic fishing, and one of the hottest spots to see bald eagles east of the Mississippi. 

There aren’t any waterfalls here, but it’s only a 5-minute detour for some remarkable views and chance wildlife encounters. We like to make a loop around Aubrey Carr Scenic Drive looking for deer and stop at the Park Lodge lookouts to check for eagles riding the thermals.

Pro-tip: Gadson’s Mater’s Pizza is on the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama for their Celebrity Pizza, but we love the Calzones.

Nocalulla Falls

Nocalulla Falls is the best-developed waterfall on this road trip, in part because it’s right in the town of Gadson. The falls cascade 90 feet down into the Black Creek Gorge. The surrounding park offers spectacular viewpoints and a 1.7 mile long crushed stone path that runs down to the gorge and provides access to the plunge pool behind the falls.

There is a lot of water pumping over Nocalulla Falls during waterfall season. The combination of tall drops, big water, and a well-developed park makes this the “must-see” waterfall of this road trip. If you’re ever heading through Gadson, you should make a point to pull over and see the falls.

Pro-tip: Gadson’s Mater’s Pizza is on the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama for their Celebrity Pizza, but we love the Calzones.

Wrapping Up Our North East Alabama Waterfall Roadtrip

All the roads on this route are paved and suitable for all vehicles. Looking at the map, you’ll see Cherokee County Road 275 running from Eberhart Point to the mouth of the Little River Canyon. This road is notoriously steep, narrow, and poorly maintained, which is one of the reasons we didn’t route our trip down the entire length of the canyon. Additionally, there were places, especially in Desoto State Park and Little River Canyon Rim Parkway, where cell service was sketchy. We programmed our GPS with multiple stops ahead of time while we still had good service to make sure we could follow the route.

This road trip is the eastern counterpart to our Northwest Alabama Natural Wonder Road Trip in many ways. It contains two of Alabama’s 20 Nature Wonders (Little River Canyon and Nocalulla Falls) with access to several others in the area. This route makes an excellent swimming hole tour in the summer and a fantastic fall leaf-peeping expedition. Don’t forget that Alabama’s waterfalls are most impressive during the winter and spring, when the water levels are highest.

Pro-tip: Sign up for Coleman Concierge to receive more articles like this straight to your inbox.

Like it? Pin it for later on Pinterest!

Noccalula Falls
Little River Falls
Desoto Falls

We are excited to share our journey with you!

Join the Concierge Club for behind the scenes content, our latest posts, and more…

Straight to your Inbox!

`
READ
Quebec City Getaway - Recipe for Spring Romance